How to test drive a used car before making purchase?


Posted by: Oluwaseun Adeniji

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Buying a used car is quite complicated, so be ready to give it a test drive and do follow our assessment criteria below to make sure the car is in good condition!

Buying a used car has been a wise choice for consumers, with a purpose to save money. But if you don’t know how to choose an appropriate one, price jacking is unavoidable.

A test drive before purchase is among the most important steps to get to know a car well. However, which conditions we should test the vehicle, how to check and operate the car system still remain unknown to many individuals. With that in mind, Naijauto would like to introduce some following notes so that you can easily evaluate your desired car before making a decision.

a black man driving a car

A test drive is a must to get the best deals on used cars

1. Test drive the used car under different conditions

As many experienced car experts, detecting the car quality by a test drive is extremely important because it helps us to exactly determine the right car to buy. The car assessment should be based on the following criteria:

1.1. Roads for testing vehicles

Choose the sloppy roads with bends and motor the car at different speeds to check the vehicle status when pressing the accelerator and brake pedal, as well as to confirm the stability of the steering wheel. Also, pay attention to the ways the car starts, accelerates, brakes and corners and listen to the sound the car makes. Actually, the sound and the vibration level of the engine in most used cars are clearly shown on the driving process, so testing is much simpler. As in roads with lots of rock, it is advisable to pay more attention to the actual feeling the car brings to you.

a white car taking the corner

A road with bends provides a better test drive

1.2. Weather for testing vehicles

You can choose a sunny day, or for caution, testing the car in the bad weather like heavy rain and a flooded road is quite good. This way can help you to determine the quality of the windshield, wipers and the performance of the car on smooth roads.

>>> This skill is important as well: How to determine the reasonable price for a used car

2. Check different systems when doing a test drive

Before a test drive, you should familiarize yourself with the vehicle, check the seat control system, the steering wheel, and the rearview mirrors to ensure those parts properly function and to avoid unfortunate accidents due to the unfamiliarity with the car. 

Actually, drivers can release a general assessment, both on strong and minus points of the car, by criteria in the first part. But for more details on technical aspects, you should consult our tips below:

  • As driving an automatic transmission car, you should shift down the gas pedals with different forces to sense whether the vehicle accelerates smoothly or not. Meanwhile, it is advisable for you to shift between gears if the car is equipped with a manual transmission to determine if the accelerator and the clutch are working harmoniously or not; and if it appears any strange noises, note it immediately.
  • For motors: Slightly shift down the gas pedal at the start, then gradually put more pressure on it to determine whether the car is jerky, vibrates and any strange sounds are made or not. If the engine noises sound differently when accelerating, please note.
  • For suspension and chassis:  Drive the car at different speeds, take the corner to see if the car shakes, and pulls to one side or not when it gets up to a high speed.
  • For brakes:  When braking, pay attention to any strange noises and see whether the steering wheel is well balanced and the car has no vibration or not. Try braking frequently in different situations to make sure that all hydraulics, brake pads, brake discs are working well.

Video: How to test drive a car like a pro | Top 10s

>>> Refer to this comprehensive list please: Used vehicle inspection - the ultimate checklist

A test drive helps to assess the vehicle's performance. If the car is not working properly, it should be brought to the service workshop to identify the defective parts. For those who do not have much experience buying cars, the criteria that has introduced above are among the most important factors before you reach a used car deal.

>>> More buying and selling tips and advice on our website, check them all!

Oluwaseun Adeniji

Oluwaseun Adeniji

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Oluwaseun Adeniji is a passionate writer and a poet with special interest in writing about cars. He is a master degree holder in international conflict and management. He enjoys feeding the public with the latest auto gist and well researched car reviews. He is also a strong football lover. So, if Oluwaseun is not writing, expect him to be reading about sports.

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