Drive It

How to Test Drive A Used Car

Relax. Start the ignition. Use common sense and make careful observations.

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Before Heading Out

Consider whether you are comfortable in the car. Check whether you can you get in and out of the car easily and if you can adjust the seat and steering so you’re comfortable. Get familiar with the car’s all round vision and blind spots, and make sure you can clearly see the instrument panel and reach all controls easily.
Test the air conditioning and make sure both cold and hot air can be produced. Briefly take the temperatures to their extremes. Also, check all vents to see if they close and open smoothly. Switch on the radio and crank it all the way up to see if there is any distortion in the speakers. Turn the radio off when performing the test drive.

Eliminate Distractions

To enable you to hear any unusual noises, don’t drive with the radio on and leave the windows up. Listen carefully while driving at different speeds and try to differentiate between normal noises from those caused by wind, tires or possible car problems. If you hear an alarming noise, try to isolate it by changing speeds or driving on different road surfaces. Also, don’t bring the entire family along – they will only distract you while you need to devote all of your attention to the test drive.

Turn the Ignition

Turn the key and see if the car starts easily – modern cars should start almost instantaneously. (Check how much effort is needed to turn the key as well as how easy it is to remove the key.) Listen to the car idle inside and outside the car. See if you hear any repetitive squeaks or other noises and question the owner about it.

Engine & Suspension

The engine should be cold before you start. If warm (feel the bonnet), it might indicate the seller warmed up the car beforehand and might be trying to hide a starting problem. The engine should not smoke excessively when the car is started or when driving. The engine should be quiet and pull smoothly. Also, listen for unusual bangs or thumps from the suspension.
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