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6 things to remember when test-driving a car

Do you know how to test-drive a car?  When you find a car that you think you’d like to buy, there are various things you’ll do before making the final decision. Sure, you can read a few reviews on it and ask the dealer or its previous owner as many questions as you like, but […]

Do you know how to test-drive a car? 

When you find a car that you think you’d like to buy, there are various things you’ll do before making the final decision. Sure, you can read a few reviews on it and ask the dealer or its previous owner as many questions as you like, but test-driving a car and experiencing driving it first-hand is the most important part of the process.

Gumtree Auto has some great tips to use when test-driving a car:

  1. Take your time

You are embarking on a potentially costly outlay. Don’t rush it or feel pressured for time by the seller or the dealer. They benefit from the sale the most, so they must accommodate your need in satisfying yourself that this car is one you really want.

  1. Inspect it first

Do a thorough visual inspection of the car, inside and out. Look at the condition of the bodywork and indications of body repair or rust, cracked or faded light lenses, signs of wear on the interior carpets and upholstery, the boot, wheels and tyres, and pop the hood to look at the engine. You need not to be a mechanical expert to interpret what goes on down there – all you really want to see us a clean engine that looks cared for and with no fluid leaks on the floor below. A dirty, greasy engine bay should tell you the car has not been lovingly cared for and/or maintained. Take out the dipstick – clean-looking oil is a good sign; a dark, sludgy mess certainly not…

  1. Drive a familiar route

The best advice is to drive on a variety of road surfaces and at varying speeds. A fool-proof system is to drive a road you know well enough in your old car, so drive to your home or office. You’re familiar with the bumps and irregularities in the road, stops and intersections, so you could directly compare the old to the new car’s feel. Can you get in and out easily? Are the seats comfortable? Can you reach all controls easily? Are they intuitive to use? Will it suit your family’s needs? In a manual, can you operate the gearshift and clutch easily? Do a parking manoeuvre. Check all-round visibility. Is the cabin noisy?

  1. Vibrations and sounds

Turn off the sound system and focus all your attention on picking up mechanical noises and vibrations emanating from the suspension, brakes and steering. At parking speeds, turn the steering wheel fully lock to lock to identify any knocking from the column or CV joints. Everything should feel ‘right’ – trust your instinct in identifying an abused car and call it quits if you are not 100% comfortable.

  1. Check all the auxiliaries

Check all the goodies and extras on the car. Make sure the sound system is in good order, the CD pops in and out as it should, the Bluetooth and USB ports are functional and the aircon does its intended job.

  1. Back at base

Once again do a walk-around inspection. You may pick up something you have missed before. If you really want the car, note any defects inside and out and if these need fixing, negotiate a discount from the seller if it is a private transaction or ask the dealer to fix it before delivery. Put in writing everything you want to be attended to and check that it has been done before taking final delivery. Dealers normally do this as a matter of course, but in a private agreement, if there is a cracked lens or screen, for instance, you will not be issued a roadworthy certificate and so cannot register the car until this is fixed. Find out what a new light or windscreen costs and negotiate to deduct this off the seller’s price, or insist they fix it.

Source: Gumtree Auto

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