Test Driving a Car
Full car checks before you buy
We all know that a test drive is an absolute must when you are considering purchasing a car, whether from a dealership or from an individual. But, what exactly are you looking? Here’s what you need to know about test driving a car.
Plan for 20 minutes.
For the best test drive, you’ll need to drive the car at various speeds, including slow and at the national speed limit. You’ll also want to drive and investigate the car over an uneven or bumpy road, go through a roundabout, and drive in an area with multiple traffic lights. The overall goal is to really test the car’s performance by putting it under some stress. During your vehicle check, pay attention to how smooth the car drives and how it transitions.
As a private buyer, you will be depending on your own car insurance in the event of an accident. Most comprehensive policies cover third parties driving another vehicle, but you’ll want to check with the insurance company to be certain.
If you do not have current car insurance coverage, you may still be able to take a test drive. If you are buying through a dealer, their trader’s policy may extend to you. If you are purchasing from a private car owner, you will need to contact an insurance company beforehand to learn about your comprehensive policy options.
What Are You Looking for?
There are certain things you should do when test driving a car. They include:
· Starting the engine multiple times to ensure all dashboard lights come on and switch off quickly
· Turning the radio, air conditioner, and heater off, at least for a few minutes. You’ll want to make certain the car is silent during your drive.
· Listening carefully for any strange noises when going over potholes or bumps
· Rolling the window down and listening to check the car and how it sounds on a bumpy road
· listening for any whining or grinding noises in each gear (This is a sign of issues with the gearbox, which may be a costly expense.)
· When steering, be wary of a car that pulls to the left or right, as this is a sign of tracking issues, and/or vibrations, which can indicate a bent drive shaft or wheel balancing issue)
· Brake hard to look for any steering wheel vibration or grinding noises that may mean the brake pads need to be replaced
· Rev the engine to check for acceleration. If there is minimal acceleration, the clutch may be slipping
· Try the steering on full lock, while slowly pulling away. Any crunching or clunking noise could be a sign that the CV joint has extensive wear and tear
· Leave the engine on for a few minutes when your test drive is over. Then, check the temperature gauge to ensure it’s not running hot.
What to Look for When the car is Stationary
· Push down on the clutch pedal, while listening for obvious changes in the engine’s sound, such as whining
· Turn the engine off. Stop for 10 seconds and restart the car. The engine should start up just like it did the first time.
· Give diesel engines extra attention. If they have a hard time starting when hot or cold, there could be an extensive problem hiding underneath.