Test driving a used car is an art. Here is everything you need to know about how to handle a car that isn’t yours yet. Then most importantly what to look at once you have safely brought the car to halt.
The 7 Things You Must Do On A Test Drive
- Check the tax/MOT/insurance. If it’s illegal, so are you. Check here for free
- Turn off the radio/sound system. Listen to the car.
- Switch on ignition and study all the warning lights, which must come on and go out.
- Start the car from stone cold.
- Release your grip on the steering wheel to see if the car lurches to one side. You're looking to see if the tracking is off.
- Aim for pot holes, or at least uneven surfaces.
- Drive for a long time, in as many road conditions as possible.
7 Sensations/Noises You Don’t Want To Experience In A Used Car
- Vibrating steering wheel - could be iffy wheel balancing or bent chassis leg.
- High pitched squealing - means a slipping belt, worn alternator/water pump bearings. which will cost down the line.
- Whistling when accelerating - turbo blown.
- White smoke - turbo blown.
- Blue Smoke - severely worn petrol engine.
- Ticking from the steering when turning - worn steering joints
- Noise at the front/crashing at rear - worn shocks/suspension
The 6 Important Post Drive Checks To Make
- Leaks - Look under the hot bonnet and under the car itself.
- Contact selling or servicing dealer to find out if they have any records - You can get these details from the seller on their V5C (logbook) and in their servicing documents.
- Data Check - Pay good money to find out if the car has ever been written off, is stolen, is still on finance, has been clocked or cloned - HPI comes highly recommended
- Get a professional inspection check - If you are buying something very complicated get it ramped and prodded by someone who knows what they are looking for. Book a vehicle health check at one of our approved garage here
- MOT - At the other end of the scale especially with a cheap car, offer to pay for a MOT to ensure it is roadworthy. If it fails, seller pays.
- Diagnostics - Complex modern cars really ought to be plugged into a computer to check fault codes. Make sure it is the right system though. Book a vehicle health check at an approved garage here.
Once you're satisfied with the used car you've tested, it should make your decision-making process a bit easier and mean you can buy with confidence. If you're worried, an extended warranty provides excellent protection against unexpected or surprise repair costs.
Before you go all the way to a test drive, make sure you do these checks
Give yourself peace of mind the day you buy your used car