How to Test Drive a Used Vehicle

November 9th, 2017 by

When you test drive a car, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Do you like the layout of the controls? How does it handle around corners? Does the transmission feel smooth? What about the suspension?

But when you test drive a used vehicle, there are a few more things you need to watch for so you have an idea of how well the parts are holding up and how much life the engine has left in it. The signs are there for you to find, but you first have to know what to watch out for.

Start with a Visual Inspection
The first step of test driving a used vehicle takes place before you even touch it. Take a look at the car from every angle, which not only means walking around it but also checking the undercarriage. Are there any dents or scratches, and how bad are they? Are there any aftermarket parts or accessories, and have they been installed properly? Is there anything hanging down or leaking under the body? Are the tires new or worn down?

Check the Features
Once you’re inside the car, don’t turn the engine on just yet. First, you should familiarize yourself with the interior features, both to see if you like them and to find out whether they’re working properly. Is the air conditioner or automatic climate control working? How about the wipers and the fluid? Can you understand the infotainment system, and does it respond the way you want it to? Do the dome lights and headlights work? Can you adjust the steering wheel and the seat to the positions you like?

Look, Listen, Feel
Once you start the engine and start driving around, evaluating a used car becomes a test of your senses. Turn the radio off, leave the windows up, and pay as much attention as you can to the noises the vehicle makes, what the instruments say about your driving, and how the car feels as it accelerates, brakes, and corners.

Does the engine sound too loud, or does it make unusual noises at certain times? Does the suspension feel as stiff or smooth as it should for the vehicle you’re driving? Does the vehicle keep its grip on high-speed curves, or does the body roll more than you’d like? Are there any signs that the car has an unaddressed problem, like a vibrating steering wheel, soft brakes, a heat sensor that climbs way too fast, or black or blue smoke billowing out the tailpipe?

Of course, the car could run perfectly fine and still not feel right, but that’s why new and used car dealerships alike give their customers a chance to test drive their cars. But when you look at used cars, you have to keep in mind that it’s had some wear and tear between the factory and the moment you first see it. You should make sure your used car doesn’t have any problems that will become a serious issue later on.

Posted in Car Tips