Driver testing a car

Insider Tips For Testing A Car Before Purchase

If you’re thinking of purchasing a new car, a test drive is a must. Whether the car is new or used, it’s an important part of thoroughly testing a car and making sure you really want to buy the car. You’re spending a lot of money on it, so you should do the most you can to ensure that you feel comfortable and enjoy driving it. It is important to always remember that a test drive is not a commitment to buy. Oftentimes, salespeople and private sellers (if you’re buying a car privately) may put pressure on you to make a purchase, but you should be honest and upfront with any concerns you have and be prepared to walk away if you are not totally happy. With this in mind, ensure you have your checklist at the ready for things to look out for in the kind of car you want instead of relying on what the salesperson is telling you. Once you’ve felt you’ve become more confident in your driving skills and are ready to take out your potentially new car for a spin, read on for some tips for your first test drive!

Inspecting The Car

Before testing a car, check all accessible fluids including engine oil and transmission fluid. If you’re looking for specific instructions on how to check fluid levels, you can find these outlined in the owner’s manual. Next, after confirming the engine hasn’t been pre-warmed, pop the hood and have a good look around with your flashlight. A qualified technician is the best person for a proper inspection, though test-drivers can look carefully for signs of trouble, like visible fluid leakage or evidence of a nesting rodent. You can then listen carefully and attentively to the seller as they walk you through the car’s properties and important things you need to know before you purchase it. While you wait for the engine to warm, you can check the service records against the maintenance schedule and checklist in the owner’s manual. A key takeaway is: buying a vehicle without full servicing records, especially if it’s still covered by a remaining factory warranty, is not advised, so make sure to use this time to look at this key information. 

Most of the time you will find that newer cars will not have as many mechanical problems that are easier to spot in a used car, but there can still be issues which arise on an individual level which you only become aware of when you start to drive it and test it out for yourself. For instance, the controls might be hard to reach, or the touchscreen might not be the easiest to operate for your liking or preferences. Any dents? Do all the lights and indicators work? There might not be quite enough space if you are very tall, or it may be too noisy when you start driving at a faster speed – all of these things contribute to making your decision about your new purchase. 

Before You Drive

Spend a few minutes and familiarize yourself with the car’s storage spaces, Bluetooth or USB compatibility so you can confirm proper operation of phone calls and media playback, and ensure everything you need while you drive is working properly. If there are any issues which arise at this time, it is important that you address them now instead of waiting until you set off on testing a car. 

Testing a Car On The Road

  • As you drive, observe the way the steering wheel moves – if the car drifts to one side, it could be a result of uneven air pressure in the tires to a problem with the car’s suspension
  • In a manual car, is the clutch easy to engage? Listen out for any unusual sounds when using the clutch pedal, and if you can change gears easily or not
  • Drive the car on different types of roads including country lanes and highways
  • Try a few different manoeuvers like reversing around a corner and parking to see if you encounter any problems
  • If you have family with you, let them sit in the back and get their feedback on how they feel about the drive
  • Do a braking system test – when applying full brakes, be sure the vehicle’s ABS brakes kick in, that the vehicle doesn’t try to steer itself to one side, and that the pedal remains firm beneath your foot. If this is not the case, have a technician check the system beforehand, so you can avoid having to contact car accident lawyers in the future

It can be an overwhelming process of buying a new car, but the important thing to remember is to take your time! Only purchase when you’re completely happy with everything, not because the salesperson said so!