The importance of test driving a used car

Why you should test drive a vehicle before you buy it

If you’re thinking about buying a used vehicle, it’s important to go for a car test drive to ensure you’re getting your hands on a quality ride and not one that will break down on the starting line. There’s plenty to think about when putting a car through its paces, so here are some useful tips.

Before you get the behind the wheel

Knowing how to test drive a used car from dealer or a private seller is a must. Before you even get behind the wheel, be sure to:

  • Inspect the body panels and paintwork for scratches, scrapes and dents
  • Look at each of the tyres individually making sure they all have at least 1.6mm of tread
  • Check under the car for oil or fuel leaks. If there are big puddles underneath, ask questions
  • Open and close all doors to ensure they operate smoothly
  • Test the suspension by pushing the corners of the vehicle down – it should rebound only once and not bounce around for a long time. If it does, the suspension may need work
  • Lock all of the doors from the inside and out – both manually and automatically if applicable
  • Check all the lights and signals. Ask a friend to ensure the headlights and brake lights are working effectively

As you drive the new vehicle

There’s no point in taking a vehicle for a spin unless you know how to test drive a used car. There are many things to look out for, so here are some things to consider.

  • Does the steering wheel shake? Are there any strange vibrations as you drive?
  • Does the vehicle accelerate well and are the breaks in good working order?
  • Does the vehicle pull to one side when you let go of the wheel?
  • Does the front end of the vehicle shake at a high speed?
  • Are the gears easy to operate? Can you change between gears smoothly without making a horrible grinding sound?
  • Is the clutch heavy or stiff? Do you feel comfortable using it?
  • How are the seats? Do they recline? Is the driving position to your preference?
  • Does the radio work? Is the sound quality good? Can you hear it above the engine?

Ask a mechanic for a second opinion

Once you have made all the inspections yourself, you should also take the car to a mechanic for a second opinion. A professional should not only look over the car physically but also take it for a spin to see if there are any obvious problems you’ve missed. While there might be quite an extensive used car test drive checklist, it’s worth being thorough to ensure you buy a car that’s up to scratch.

If you are looking for a quality used car from a reputable dealership, Carwise offers a host of vehicles from a wide range of marques. Located at Harlow, Maidstone and Dunstable, you can expect a friendly service and cars to suit your needs.