Are You Doing a Test Drive? Here’s What to Look Out For

When people buy a car, there’s always one rule to follow: do a test drive. It is true whether you’re buying a new vehicle or a used one, but it is even more crucial when you’re on the market for a used car. It’s not just about driving it and seeing how comfortable you are with it – it’s about other things you may not even have thought about before. As any car owner would tell you, it’s all about the small stuff – but these small things may make all the difference in the world. So are you doing a test drive? Here’s what to look for – the top items.

  • Do a careful inspection of the amenities

You must check the amenities of the vehicle – these include what you would expect, such as the seats, steering and windows (check the functionality of the power feature). Are they working, and are they working well? Again, are they what you expected?

  • Check out the heating and the air conditioning

Once inside the vehicle, it’s also crucial to check the heating and air conditioning – and it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of June or the middle of December. You want to be sure that it’s working correctly, and you will have no unpleasant surprises later on.

  • Test the sound system

Another thing you must check is the car’s sound system – especially if the sound system matters to you more than most. But it’s other things, too – you have to check the satellite navigation of the car (if it already has that) and Bluetooth connection, if any. Finally, you have to decide if the sound system is good enough – or you may want to spend on a better sound system, so you have to determine if it’s worth it.

  • Is there any warning or flashing lights?

It is also essential to check if the vehicle has any warning lights – especially anything that is repeatedly flashing. Warning lights are an indication of something wrong – so don’t assume it doesn’t mean anything. The best thing to do is to follow up with the dealership or owner about any maintenance issues with the warning or flashing lights.

  • Is the car handling well?

While test-driving the car, you will be sure to figure out if it’s handling well – but test it in various situations. Car dealerships like also recommend getting the vehicle to a speed of about 50 to 55 miles per hour – because some issues like bent rims are not noticeable at lower speeds. When you are at 60 miles an hour or thereabouts, that’s the only time you’ll notice something is wrong.

To better determine how the vehicle handles in various situations, try stopping and going, and try to accelerate rapidly – and at the same time, decelerate rapidly as well. You can also try taking a hard turn and then suddenly braking or stopping, and make sure to test drive the car at high speed as well as at a low and leisurely speed. Assess the car once you do these things, and you can get a feel for how the car handles it all.

  • Listen to the hum of the engine

When it comes to the engine, it’s also important to listen to its hum – a smooth and even hum is often a good sign, but beware of knocking or sputtering sounds as it can indicate something seriously wrong with the car. And if you don’t know much about car engines, it would be best to have it inspected by an independent mechanic – this way; they can make sense of the engine and figure out the problem with it. A pre-sale inspection would be worth it, and it helps you negotiate a lower price for the vehicle!

  • Watch the brakes and the shifts

You also have to see how the car breaks and shifts – if there are any grinding or squeaking sounds, and if the car shifts with hesitation, this is not a good sign. The sound of metal screeching against metal is especially telling, and there’s a good chance that there is a problem with the transmission, and you have to have it checked out.

  • Check the exhaust

Finally, it’s time to check the vehicle’s exhaust – as smoke can indicate an issue. It is especially true of white or blue smoke – it can signify a much bigger issue at hand. The simplest addition you can make to your car to increase performance, aesthetic appeal, and sound is an aftermarket exhaust system. Like MBRP vs Magnaflow, there are tons of performance exhaust systems available, and tons of manufacturers claiming to have the greatest exhaust system available.

As mentioned, it would be best if you could get the vehicle checked by an independent mechanic – look for one in your local area who has done inspections before, particularly if you are eyeing a used car. They can tell you if there is something wrong with the vehicle no matter how minute. Of course, it only costs about $100 or a little more, but you’ll get peace of mind knowing that the car has no significant problems.

Lastly, if you want to be entirely sure about your purchase, try to get the car’s history – of repairs, maintenance checks, and the like. You can get this report through Carfax if you have the vehicle identification number and license plate. For example, when a car shows a lot of repairs, but the schedule is well-spaced, it could mean that the owner was mindful and responsible about taking it for maintenance and repairs on a set schedule. On the other hand, if the vehicle was repaired too frequently (especially if it was for the same issue!) – it could be a sign that there is something wrong with it, so you have to be extra careful.

A vehicle is, in many ways, a necessity – but you have to be careful and aware of what to look out for and what to consider to make a reasonable – if not good – purchase. And if, by chance, the vehicle is not what you expected or is too expensive, don’t be afraid to walk away – there will always be something out there that fits you.