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Things to look for when buying used? (Read 925 times)
Smokestack
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Things to look for when buying used?
01/21/11 at 15:45:42
 
Greetings, all.  I've just joined up, and am looking at buying a Savage / S40 as a first motorcycle.  My grandfather had an old BSA, and I love the idea of picking up a Thumper and wrenching on it.

In looking around the forum, I haven't been able to find a list of things to watch out for when buying a used Savage, so I thought I'd ask.  It might also be helpful to other folks if we could put together a thread with lists and links and pin it.  Just a thought.

Anyway, the bike I'm looking at is a 1996 Savage with 23000 Kilometers on it (around 14500 miles).  Provided it is reasonably well maintained, what should I look for?

My apologies if there is a thread about all this that I've missed in my wanderings,  and a link would be much appreciated!   Smiley

The List:

- Beware the wiles of the seller.  Nothing is as good as it appears.  But it ain't always horrible either!

- Check for gas cap leaks by tipping the bike to the right.

- After the engine has warmed up, check for oil leaks, specifically the cylinder head.

-Check that all lights work well.

-Turn the handlebars to check for smooth operation.  Check for any slop in the pivot bearings.

-Check the tires.  Check both the tread depth / wear and sidewall condition.

-Inspect all chrome / controls for weathering and pitting which are signs of outdoor storage.  Also check for thinning exhaust pipe / muffler chrome when cool.

-Listen for Cam Chain noise on the right side of the bike, near the oil filter.  This may indicate Tensioner issues.

-Inspect the brake discs and pads, looking for overly worn discs and / or thin pads.
 
-Inspect the Drive Belt for holes / excessive wear / proper tracking.

-Check all fluid reservoirs.  New brake fluid may indicate an attempt to hide a problem.  Overly dark fluids can also mean trouble.

-Check the frame for any bends, dings, chips or corrosion.

-Compress the forks to check for seal leaks.  This may require riding over some rough ground to reveal.

-MrThud's post on page two is very thorough and descriptive.  Read the whole thread if you have the time, as many folks have posted informative and helpful suggestions!
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« Last Edit: 01/23/11 at 10:22:21 by Smokestack »  

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Boule’tard
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #1 - 01/21/11 at 15:52:43
 
Sure! This may turn into something good we can move to the tech section.

Caveat #1: Run the bike long enough to get it good and hot, then inspect the head for oil leaks.  Make sure the seller didn't just clean it up really good.

#2 Lean the bike to the right and see if the gas cap leaks.
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #2 - 01/21/11 at 15:56:01
 
Time for a look at the cam chain tensioner
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #3 - 01/21/11 at 16:28:16
 
From now on when I look at a used bike I will insist that when I get there that they do not start it or warm it up.  I want to be the first to start it that day or I will walk away.

Nothing is a new as they say it is. "It just came from the shop for service/tuneup" means nothing, and it's never handled, kept or taken care of as good as they will lead you to believe.

My $.02
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Smokestack
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #4 - 01/21/11 at 16:34:06
 
Mega wrote on 01/21/11 at 16:28:16:
From now on when I look at a used bike I will insist that when I get there that they do not start it or warm it up.  I want to be the first to start it that day or I will walk away.

Nothing is a new as they say it is. "It just came from the shop for service/tuneup" means nothing, and it's never handled, kept or taken care of as good as they will lead you to believe.

My $.02


Yeah, I specified a cold start, by me, when I get there.  If I feel heat when I put my hand on the Block, I'll let it cool down and try again.  Or walk.
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Smokestack
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #5 - 01/21/11 at 16:50:58
 
justin_o_guy2 wrote on 01/21/11 at 15:56:01:
Time for a look at the cam chain tensioner


Is there a way to check this without pulling stuff apart?  Once I get the bike home, sure, but I doubt anyone would want me to pull off covers and such in their driveway!

Edit: Stupid Spelling!  Grrr.....   Angry
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« Last Edit: 01/21/11 at 19:49:12 by Smokestack »  

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justin_o_guy2
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #6 - 01/21/11 at 17:17:40
 
Its not a deal breaker, but a bargaining tool. Its seriously Time for maintenance in the cam chain department, so, get a deal that wont make ya cry when youve gotta drop some $$$ on parts. Others know the prices, Im too forgetful. Sorry.

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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #7 - 01/21/11 at 17:31:20
 
It is a good idea to have a partner along to serve as an extra set of eyes.
Especially when checking frame and wheel alignment. Let them sit on the bike and stand back to look for any tweaking of the forks and handlebars and general "straightness" . This might provide hints of having been wrecked. Look for signs of rust on the frame or "fresh" paint on welds. Do the switch controls look weathered, signs of being stored outside. Examine the belt for cracks, missing teeth.
Front brake pads are easy to check. Is the brake fluid in the reservoir clean or black? Same with oil.
Bounce the front forks several times and look for possible leaking from fork seals. This may take a test ride over some bumps to be evident. Do the handlebars turn easily both ways. Is there slop in the steering head bearing?
Tires fresh? Old tires with good looking tread can have cracked sidewalls and may need to be chucked.
All the lights and signals work?
The above suggestions about oil leaks are high on the list.
Of course, how does it seem to run.
Don't let minor blemishes turn you away...it's 14 going on 15years old!
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #8 - 01/21/11 at 17:36:31
 
I'm going to write this for any mileage.  10 to 15k miles to me is not too much.  That's where I've picked both of mine up.  With care, they'll go to 50k I'm sure.  One is at 46k and the other 40k.  Looking to replace the cam chain on the 46k soon.  the 40k next year.  Both burn oil in the summer, but are ok in the winter.  winter for me is 70°F  summer is over 100.

A bike that needs some wrenching doesn't bother me.
A bike that needs to be refinished, has corrosion and rust all over, now that bothers me.

We know the head plug leak or head cover leak, is not a huge deal.
The head leak is a bigger deal.  Various covers or bolt leaks are minor.  Fork leak wouldn't be a huge deal.  I've done all these.

Various shaft seals would be a big deal.  but I haven't had to replace any.

Most people don't replace their brake fluid just cause, so I'd like to see slightly tinted fluid.  Clear means he just replaced it, you'd better look that over.  Dark fluid might be an issue.  Check for sticky operation.

Check the drive belt for holes.  rocks can get caught up in the pulley then they get pushed thru if the belt is too tight.

Brakes, tires and battery are normal wear items to be negotiated based on condition.  Look for cracks in the tires and the mfg date.  Look for thin pads.  check the brake arm, there's a line on the shaft and marking on the hub too indicate wear.

The muffler has some lightening holes in the chromed part because that is double walled.  check for thinning (soft) when cool.

When running, some ticking is normal.  Valves are manually adjusted.

Cam chain, if you hear knocking around by the oil filter cover (right side) It's time to replace.  other than that, the average time to repair is 20k miles.  I'd recommend looking at right away when you get it even if it doesn't knock.  Good indication of the engine's wear status.

Petcock is vacuum operated.  If you run it for 5 minutes and quits, there's a good chance you'll have to replace it.  Pull the vac line off and check for gas after you shut it down.  shouldn't be any.

These are all good negotiating points.  A good guy will tell you all about the maintenance history and maybe all the receipts.  Someone who doesn't know, either doesn't or won't tell you.
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #9 - 01/21/11 at 18:47:34
 
The seller was quite happy to ride the bike 45 freeway miles to me:

And I drove him back to his house.  Both willing to know each other's home -- can't be too bad.
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #10 - 01/21/11 at 19:46:07
 
Paladin. wrote on 01/21/11 at 18:47:34:
The seller was quite happy to ride the bike 45 freeway miles to me:
http://www.dslretorts.com/Paladin/images/PassingPaper.jpg
And I drove him back to his house.  Both willing to know each other's home -- can't be too bad.


That's a great pic!  I hope my buying experience will be as good!

I do hereby amend the list to include the fact that not all sellers are out to fleece ya, but the original point still stands as well.
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #11 - 01/22/11 at 08:01:11
 
I certainly hope you find a savage, within 5 posts of starting here you have a very informative thread going.
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #12 - 01/22/11 at 08:34:37
 
So, I went out to look at the '96 Savage today.  All looks good; stored inside,fresh brakes and pads, nary a speck of rust to be seen.  A few scratches on the tank, but nothing throught the primer.  No fork seal leaks, and the front end was smooth with no slop.  The only area of concern is a small amount of oil tucked in where the head meets the exhaust on the deep side (the right hand side if sitting on the bike, left side if looking from the front).  The owner said the head hadn't been cleaned up prior, and  that the oil had never dribbled any further than what I saw.  There was a little accumulated dirt around it, so I tend to believe that he didn't clean it up before I got there.

Is this particular leak a problem, or is it one of the easily corrected ones?  Thanks for all the help, everyone!
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #13 - 01/22/11 at 08:48:12
 
About a day of relaxed labor.
A tube of RTV, maybe the sealing washers and a few bolts you'll end up replacing.

here's a walk thru...
http://suzukisavage.com/cgi-bin/YaBB.pl?board=tech;action=display;num=1177184297
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Smokestack
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Re: Things to look for when buying used?
Reply #14 - 01/22/11 at 09:12:50
 
verslagen1 wrote on 01/22/11 at 08:48:12:
About a day of relaxed labor.
A tube of RTV, maybe the sealing washers and a few bolts you'll end up replacing.

here's a walk thru...
http://suzukisavage.com/cgi-bin/YaBB.pl?board=tech;action=display;num=1177184297


Excellent!  I'd thought it wasn't a big deal, good to know I was right.  And thanks for the link!
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