In the market for a pre-owned vehicle? Taking a test drive is crucial to the car buying process. However, a test drive is not just about driving. A test drive allows you to learn about the car you plan to buy, assess its condition, and get a feel for its performance. It is also your opportunity to inspect the vehicle for any problems, and following a test drive checklist can help you with that. Remember that whether you are buying from a dealership or private seller, they can sell you anything.

Create a test drive checklist 

It is tempting to get carried away and distracted on a test drive, particularly when you like the look and feel of the vehicle you are driving. Sticking to a checklist can help ensure you do not miss any glaring issues and cover all bases. Here are some things to check and be aware of while the test drive is being carried out.

Before you move 

  • Ensure that you are able to reach all the controls and view what you need to see from the driver’s seat.
  • Start the engine and try out every system. Does the car start quickly, or did it crank for a long time?
  • Try out the AC system and check every fan speed. The same goes for the heater.
  • Switch on the car’s interior lights. If they are pulsing, it may indicate an issue with the vehicle’s electrical system.
  • Check each door lock and window, listening for any odd noises as they rise and lower.
  • Turn on the car’s radio and move the fader and balance so you can hear each speaker, making sure none of them crackle. 

During the drive

  • Turn off the radio so you can hear any strange sounds coming from the engine, transmission, or suspension.
  • Listen for wind noises around the doors and windows that may indicate leaks. 
  • Drive the car on types of roads that are more typical of your commute. Is the driving experience as you expect it to be, without strange jolts or noises? 
  • Pull into a parking lot to assess the vehicle’s manoeuvrability and how easy it is to see outside or use the car’s cameras when in tight spaces.
  • Test the brakes, making sure they do not pulse or grab. Does the vehicle accelerate smoothly, or does the transmission slip, causing the car to lurch?
  • Does the vehicle drift to the left or right when holding the steering wheel straight? A very slight drift to the left is acceptable, but it should never pull to the right into oncoming traffic.
  • Pay attention to the instrument panel. Are warning lights coming on? Or are the lights not coming on when they should?

After the test drive 

If the test drive goes well, request a vehicle history report and have it inspected by a mechanic. The surest way to pinpoint any mechanical issues is by getting a professional pre-purchase vehicle inspection after you have taken it out for a spin. While you should note every fault during the test drive, not all should eliminate the vehicle from consideration. Some issues can be appropriated as bargaining chips when negotiating a price.

Earn-a-Car can provide all the know-how you will need to make an informed decision on buying your next pre-owned vehicle. For more information, contact us today.