When you’re considering the purchase of a new or used car, you’ll want to take it for a test drive. It’s only when you’re behind the wheel that you’ll get the feel for how the driving experience is. Any obvious defects are sure to leap out at you, and sometimes a car you’re uncertain of can take you by surprise.
Before you head out for the drive, however, there are a few things you might bear in mind. By taking these simple steps, you’ll ensure that you get the maximum possible benefit from the short time you have with your prospective new purchase.
Buy From a Reputable Name
If you’re heading into uncharted territory, then you run the risk that you’ll encounter pitfalls. For this reason, it’s worth going to a reputable dealership that’s got something to lose. If you’re in the market for a Corsa, for example, then it’s worth going to an approved used Vauxhall dealership, rather than a private seller.
Check under the Hood
If you don’t check under the hood, then you’re leaving yourself exposed to nasty surprises further down the road. If you’ve decided on a particular model, then you should make yourself aware of what you’re looking for.
Watch for Smoke
If the car is belching out an excessive amount of smoke from the rear during your test drive, then this might indicate a problem with the engine. The bonnet should be cold before the car starts – that way you can be sure there isn’t a problem with the starter motor.
Listen for Rattles
If you’re hearing a lot of alarming grinding and rattling noises as you drive along, then it might be that the suspension is starting to suffer from wear and tear.
Check the Steering
Ideally, your steering shouldn’t have any ‘free play’ – or zones where it can turn without any resistance. The steering wheel shouldn’t vibrate while you’re driving, either, as this will have all kinds of knock-on effects with the wheels.
Check the Brakes
A car that can’t come to a complete stop when you want it to isn’t going to be safe to drive. Perform an emergency stop in a safe back-street, and watch to see if the car deviates from a straight line.
Check the gears
A test drive through a suburban area will give you plenty of scope to move through the lower gears – but make sure that you go right up to fifth. If you notice any crunching, or the clutch doesn’t bite until it’s near the top of the range of motion, then it’s probably a sign that it needs replacing.
If you notice any defects during your test-drive, then they needn’t necessarily be deal-breakers – but you might use them to leverage a better deal for yourself.