Test Drive of a Used Car: What to Pay Attention to?


Mohit Kamboj

Official car dealerships offer customers an appointment for a test drive of a car as a separate service. This is a way to assess the technical condition, the level of comfort in the cabin, ease of operation, safety, etc. An analysis of the technical characteristics or expert advice will not provide as complete information as a half-hour trip.

If you decide to buy a used car, it is also necessary to test-drive a car. So, find out how to take a test drive and make a route for a full assessment of the car. In this way, you will defend your interests.

Preparing for the test drive

Before a test drive, it is crucial to determine the purpose of the purchase, to assess how often you will use the car, under what conditions, and who will drive the vehicle. This will help with the criteria to look out for when you test drive. More so, before proceeding to the practical check, make sure you have completed the theoretical part with the help of the check FaxVIN service. Can’t decide on a make, model, or class? Try several options and compare your sensations.

When preparing your trip plan, agree with the owner to test drive a car for at least 30 minutes. If a longer route is needed to get the full picture, discuss this in advance. Don’t agree with the car owner’s attempts to suggest a route for a test drive. The owner of the car knows its shortcomings. The route should run along highways, streets, unpaved or country roads, and light off-road. It is possible to assess the real technical condition of the chassis only in the complex.

Crucial aspects to pay attention to during the test drive

Here is what you definitely need to pay attention to:

  • Car acceleration: This is how you identify malfunctions in the ignition and power systems. At the time of acceleration, the car should not make a suspicious noise, knocking or crunching from the engine.
  • Evaluate shifting gears in a car with a manual transmission. A rattle indicates a problem in the clutch drive, an unfixed shift lever indicates broken bushings or a worn mechanism. For a car with automatic transmission, pay attention to the color and condition of the oil (not all boxes have a dipstick, so the advice is not universal). A burning smell and the black or brown color of the working fluid are the signs of malfunction.

A car with an automatic transmission accelerates evenly without jerks, with smooth gear changes. Minor defects are eliminated by changing the oil and oil filter. To be sure, it is better to go through the diagnosis and troubleshooting of the automatic transmission. An inspection at a car service will cost less than buying a new transmission.

During the trip, pay attention to the behavior of the car. If the car skids on a flat, dry, and smooth road, the wheel alignment is violated. The presence of knocking and clanging when braking is a sign of a malfunction of the brake system.

Also, check the operation of the anti-lock brake system. On wet pavement or dirt roads, depress the brake pedal sharply. A working and correctly tuned ABS will respond with a slight trembling of the brake pedal, and the car will maintain a straight course without skidding.