Drive It

How to Test Drive A Used Car

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

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Choose a Driving Route

A test drive is of little use if you spend most of the time driving on the highway. Don’t let the owner direct the trip. Drive a mixed route of local streets, highways, and a big empty parking area. A long highway on-ramp is a good place for testing a vehicle’s acceleration and how well the car merges onto the highway. Find a bumpy road or an area with speed bumps and notice how the car responds after hitting bumps. Also, try to find some steep grades to climb to test the car’s performance.

Vary the Speed

Make sure the car does not shake or vibrate by test driving at both slow and highway speeds. See if you are satisfied with the way the car feels going down the road at various speeds. Vibrations might indicate problems with the suspension, tyres, axels or drive train.


With automatic vehicles, engage each one of the gears including reverse, while the engine is running
A clunking noise could suggest play in the transmission. Accelerate slowly and check whether the transmission shifts is smooth or if it slips or clunks when gear are shifted.
A manual transmission should shift easily among the gears without having to force it. The clutch should also engage the transmission easily. If not, the clutch could be worn and may need to be changed.


Find an area without any traffic, get up to speed, and hit the brakes hard. Check whether the car swerve to the left or right. The brakes should provide confidence and stop the car in a straight line. The brake pedal should have a firm feel when braking and you should not hear any squealing or strange noises. The pedal should engage the brakes within 2-3 cm of the top of the pedal. (If the vehicle is equipped with ABS, the pedal will only vibrate / pulsate when braking very hard.)
Continued on page 4…
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