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Buying a 2nd Hand Car? Check Your Dash Lights First

If your buying a 2nd hand car, there are many guides on the internet which will give you help and advice about what to look for and what to steer clear of. Well i can guarantee you that they will not touch on this subject.

Because we deal with diagnostics of cars, and we very often need to buy cars that we can test equipment on, and map the whole diagnostic system of the vehicle, which allows us to help our customers better. Within the past 3 months we have bought in 5 cars, and you will be shocked to find out that 3 of these cars had been tampered with to hide serious faults in the vehicle, and when we say serious, we mean potentially deadly.

We found that 3 of the cars, a Vauxhall Astra, a Citroen Xsara Picasso & a VW Golf M4 - the previous owners had actually removed the instrument clusters which show the speed, warning lights, fuel level etc, and actually removed bulbs which were illuminated on the dashboard because of vehicle faults.

In the Citroen & the vauxhall, the airbag warning bulbs had been removed, this was persumably so that the vehicle would pass it's MOT. An airbag warning light on the dashboard is there for a reason, and and tampering with can seriously put the lives of the driver and passengers in jeopardy. If the airbag light is illuminated, PLEASE do not ignore it.

In the VW Golf that we worked on, the previous owner had removed the cluster to remove the LED bulb which lights up the ABS warning section. Once we had done our checks, we found that the reason the ABS light was originally on was because of a faulty ABS sensor, which costs around £20. We have to ask if it was really worth removing the whole cluster and taking an LED bulb out just to save £20? especially when the safety of the vehicle's passengers is at stake. We all know the answer to that.

So, to cut a long story short if you are buying a used car there are a few checks that you can do your yourself to make sure the dash has not been previously tampered with.

When you turn on the ignition, make sure all of the warning lights actually light up, you will see a faded outline of the warning light before turning the ignition on, so make sure the light does turn on, if either the engine warning light, the ABS warning light, or the airbag warning light does not illuminate before you actually turn on the engine, then it means that either a bulb has blown (highly unlikely) or it has been purposely removed because the car has a fault in this module or system. which could end up costing you £££ or $$$$.
abs light bulb led removed by previous owner diagnostic world
We were able to remove the dashboard in all of these cars within 5 minutes, so it shows you how easy it is to do, take a look at the images below of us taking apart the instrument clusters.
00290 vw abs fault warning code abs light rear left abs sensor diagnostic world
vw gold remove dashboard clocks dash dials diagnostic world
vw golf clocks dashboard removed
vw golf clocks vdu vdo dashboard remove diagnostic world
vw golf dash dial clocks led warning lights removed
bulbs removed from Citroen Xsara Picasso Dashboard
citroen xsara picasso dash instrument cluster being removed
Airbag Light Covered Vauxhall Astra G
Vauxhall Astra Steering Wheel & Airbag Removed
Vauxhall Astra G Clocks
Opel Astra G Clocks
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