Test driving a vehicle is the best way for any prospective car owner to figure out if they finally found the perfect car for them. If you are buying a second-hand car, test driving it will give you a good idea of whether the car is worth its price or not.
But what should you be looking for when test driving a vehicle? Should you just be focusing on weird sounds or unnecessary moving parts? Well, there’s those things but there should be more.
For some people who are buying new vehicles, they believe getting an expert driver is important to gauge a car. While that is true, you can also do the test driving yourself. You just need to create a mental checklist of the stuff you should look out for. To help you out, we’ve compiled the 10 things you should do or look out for during a vehicle test drive. These points will help you create a fair and rational analysis of the car and will therefore allow you to make the right decision. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start.
10 Things to Remember During a Vehicle Test Drive
1. Have an open mind
When we are car hunting, we often have this idea of looking for what we want first before setting out for the day. Oftentimes, we already have the car we want in our head so when we find one we automatically feel like that’s the car you are taking home.
When you test drive, remove any bias in your mind. Forget that this is the car of your dreams. Don’t think of it as your dream car. These thoughts will only cloud your mind and will result in you not noticing obvious problems of the car during the test drive.
2. Have a benchmark
If you have been in the cars of other people, by now you might already have a benchmark of what you are looking for. It’s the same thing when car hunting. Try as many cars as possible to create a benchmark. Does Car Z drive better than Car B but loses in steering compared to Car D?
Try to come up with a benchmark so that you can judge each car by their merits in comparison to the other cars you have tried.
3. Do a pre-test checkup
A quick checkup before a test drive should be step #1 at all times. Check under the hood for obvious concerns like dirty fluids, strong odors, or signs of poor maintenance. Look underneath the car to see if anything leaks or if there are creaks and raps underneath when you try to move the car. Check the tires for uneven wear and try to see if you can spot any cracks, discoloration, or grooves on the brake rotors.
4. Take down notes
If you feel like you are getting overwhelmed by the information you are taking in then don’t hesitate to take down notes. Get a notebook and jot down the stuff that you noticed on each car.
You can even create your own criteria (by writing down the important parts of the car you are going to check) and grading them. This will give you a way to compare each car you are going to test drive.
5. Don’t rush
A test drive check should be done on a day when you are not on a rush. Rushing things will only result in poor checks. Make sure you allot time to check and do the test drive.
Some experts claim that running a car up to 10 miles is what’s needed in order to find out what is wrong with the vehicle. If the seller thinks you are a joyrider then offer to pay for another 30 minutes of test driving.
6. Practice consistency
Make sure you create a consistent checklist in your head when test driving. Treat each separate car the same way so you can get a fair assessment. If possible, make sure you go through the same route on your test drive for all cars. Use the same speed and do the same turns. This way, you will be sure that you are judging each drive the same way.
7. Turn the radio off
Want to really evaluate the car? Turn the radio and air conditioning off but leave the windows up. This is so you can hear any noises emanating from the car. You might hear an unusual noise from time to time and this can be indicative of a problem. If you do hear an unusual sound, try to isolate it by changing speeds, gears, or stopping.
8. Be reasonable
Unless you are buying a brand new car, you must be reasonable in your criteria. Don’t expect a perfect car if your budget is not that high. Your goal is to have a car that you can safely drive that won’t give you headaches in the future. So, keep your expectations on a reasonable level but don’t forget to list down all issues as they should be addressed in case you do decide to buy the car.
9. Make small circles
After driving the car, find an empty parking lot or a large flat area. Make small circles with the car by doing tight turns. Wait for any sounds that suggest problems with the car’s CV joints. These can be expensive to fix depending on the damage. A lot of people forget this part of the test as they just focus on the “test drive” part.
10. Get an expert opinion
While it will be your decision that will matter in the end, having an expert take a look at the car can help you ensure you aren’t buying a dud. Our experts at T3 Atlanta can help you make a more informed decision by doing a quick check on the car during your test drive. We can point out issues that you might miss or any pointers for you during your car hunt. Call us today to schedule a test drive or checkup.