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How To Test Drive A Used Car

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Test Drive A Used Vehicle Like A Pro

How to Test Drive and Buy a Used Car

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Going on a test drive is an essential step before buying a used car. This is an opportunity to evaluate the vehicle to see if its a good fit. Unfortunately, far too many people jump in the vehicle and take off without giving much thought to the process. Then they end up buying cars that have issues. Avoid this problem by following these test-driving tips.

Test Drive Pro Tip # : Look For Clues

Bring your flashlight and look around, in, and under the car thoroughly with an eye for the following:

A. Bodywork and VINs: Work your way around the car looking for signs of repainting or overspray around each body panel. Overspray occurs when the body shop repaints a panel and accidentally gets paint spray on an adjacent panel or trim piece.

  • Does one panel look newer than the surrounding panels?
  • Does an area have more texture or undulations than others? Look from different angles and use your flashlight.
  • Look for VIN tags. If a car has had a panel replaced, it may not have the original tag with the VIN stamped onto it. Instead, it might say DOT, which means the panel has been replaced. If so, assume the car has been in an accident.
  • Look for different-sized gaps between the panels.
  • When the owner is not looking, whisper tell me your secrets, car.

An accident isnt necessarily a deal-breaker if it was repaired properly. But if it wasnt, you could be in for trouble.

B. Leaks: Specifically look for leaking fluids around the engine.

  • Is there oil, coolant, or other fluid dripping anywhere near the engine?
  • Is the engine relatively clean, and is any part of the engine wet with oil?
  • Look for fluid leaking from the shock absorbers.

C. Rust: If you see rust, you probably want to walk away. Like Neil Young said, rust never sleeps, and you dont want it not sleeping in your car.

  • Look up in the wheel wells with your flashlight.
  • Look at the suspension and inside the quarter panels.

Why You Should Test Drive A Used Car

When you test drive a used car youre attempting to answer two questions: can you see yourself driving it and does the vehicle have any problems? Many used car buyers think its all about the last one.

Looking for defects or faults is important, but its not as important as finding the perfect car thats right for you. A used car is a big decision and its important not to rush. You may think youve found your ideal car, but if youre unable to live with it, youll soon be out car shopping again.

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When You Get To The Dealership Or Meet With The Car Owner

  • Remember that youre the one buying the car. Dont let the salesperson or owner rush you or try to take control.
  • Ask as many questions as you want. You want to know all of the ins and outs of the car, why its being sold, etc.
  • Completely check out the car inside and out. Look at the whole interior, and check under the hood and underneath the car.
  • Drive on city streets, highways/freeways, and anywhere else youll be taking the car frequently. You want to know that the car can perform well where youll be using it the most.
  • If youre buying a used car, have it inspected by a mechanic. You dont want to get stuck with any expensive repairs.
  • If you know that the car doesnt meet your needs, then walk away. You dont want to waste your own time or anyone elses.

Under The Hood: Engine

How to Test Drive a Car

Its best to make these checks with the engine cool. First inspect the general condition of the engine bay. Dirt and dust are normal, but be wary if you see oil splattered about or on the pavement below. Also be on the lookout for a battery covered with corrosion, or wires and hoses hanging loose.

Hoses and belts: Squeeze the various rubber hoses running to the radiator, A/C, and other parts. The rubber should be firm and supple, not rock-hard, cracked, or mushy. Feel the drive belts to determine whether they are frayed.

Fluids: The owners manual will point out where to look to check all fluid levels. Engine oil should be dark brown or black but not gritty. If the oil is honey-colored, it was just changed. If the dipstick has water droplets on it or shows gray or foamy oil, it could indicate a cracked engine block or blown head gasket, two serious problems.

Check the automatic-transmission fluid with the engine warmed up and running. On some vehicles, the dipstick has two sets of marks for checking when the engine is either cold or warm.

Transmission fluid should be pinkish, not brown, and smell like oil, with no burnt odor. The dipstick shouldnt leave visible metal particles on the rag, another sign of a serious problem. Power-steering and brake fluids should be within the safe zone.

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Before You Leave The House

  • Do extensive research on all of the cars youre interested in, check their ratings and reviews, and make a list of the ones you want to test drive.
  • If youre going to check out a used car, research its price first. There are many trusted websites you can use to find out what a car is worth based off its age, mileage, and condition. If the owner or dealership is selling it for a lot more or a lot less than that amount, then walk away.
  • If you plan on trading in your current ride, find out what its worth. Then, youll know if the dealership is offering you a fair trade-in value.
  • Make an appointment. Dealerships can get busy, especially on weekends. If you have an appointment, the sales people can help you right away, and they can have the car/cars you want to test drive ready to go.

Test Drive Pro Tip # 1 Do Your Homework

Before you head out to do the test drive, do some research. Its easy to access a mound of information on pretty much any car via the trusty internet. Will you be looking at a Pontiac Aztek because you loved Breaking Bad? Chances are theres a forum that specializes in Azteks where you can find a buyers guide. Go into the test drive knowing what to look for and what to ask about, such as common maintenance items and maladies. Speaking of asking good questions

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Write Down Some Notes

When youre done with a test drive of one vehicle, write down some quick notes. Have a notepad handy or just use your phone and write down things that stuck out about the car you just drove.

What did you like? Was there anything you wanted that this car doesnt offer? This can make it easy to compare your options later. If youre looking for a used car that offers the features you need, visit our INFINITI dealership near Columbus, OH. Well help you get the most out of your test drive so that you can make the right decision about your car purchase!

Find The Best Used Car In Calgary

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

Used cars come in all shapes and sizes. You want to make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options for buying a used car in Calgary that are sensible, affordable, and a worthwhile investment. Consider these great cars that are cheap. After doing plenty of research, you should without a doubt be able to find a used car that suits all of your financial and functional needs.

Narrow your search down to 2-3 options for a car you might purchase. These are the ones you should be prepared to test drive.

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Test Drive Tip #: Start With Low Speeds First

Now is not the time to see how fast the used car youre test driving can move from zero to 60 mph. Instead, start your test drive at a nice, low speed. Get an understanding of how well the car steers, how the brakes work, etc. Once youre satisfied, try the car at highway speeds, and be on the lookout for any balance or alignment issues. Continue listening for any unexpected noises too.

Pay Special Attention To The Transmission And Brakes

If the transmission feels like its jerking or shifting late, that’s a GIANT red flag. Although some used cars can have their transmission mounts wear out, a lot of used cars, especially higher-mileage cars with continuously variable transmissions , are notorious for their short life and high replacement cost.

What else? The brakes! Give the owner a heads-up, and then firmly test them out. The feel should be linear and consistent. If the brakes vibrate or have a squealing sound, either the brakes need to be replaced or have already been replaced with cheap components.

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Bring Someone With You

If you are not the most car-savvy person, having a friend or family member who is to come along can be a big help. Even if they arent a mechanic or a car person, at the very least theyre an extra set of eyes who might notice something you dont and can tell you what its like to be a passenger in the vehicle. They can also point out potential issues you wouldnt think about yourself, especially if you are relatively inexperienced in driving or buying a car.

Steering And Front End

Test Drive Is EVERYTHING When Buying a Used Car

With the vehicle running but parked, turn the steering wheel rapidly from one side, fully to the other. Repeat this in both directions, several times.

If you hear a clunking or popping sound in the process, possibly accompanied by a tactile snapping or popping sensation through the steering wheel, youll want to have the vehicles front end checked over by a technician before you buy. An inconsistent or notchy steering feel during this exercise may be a sign of trouble, too.

Finally, in an appropriate area, place the vehicle in DRIVE, turn the wheel fully to one side, and gingerly apply the throttle. Do this several times, with the wheel pointed in both directions.

Youre not trying to spin the tires, but you are trying to get the car to leap forward with the wheels turned sharply. If you detect a loud clunk or popping sound or sensation during this test, have the vehicles motor mounts, front-end, and CV joints inspected professionally before you buy.

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How To Test Drive A Used Car

For many people, the test drive is the most intimidating aspect of buying a pre-owned car. It’s understandable if you feel nervous about passing judgment on a car. However, you don’t need to be an automotive expert to determine if a car is worth its price. Once you know why you need to test drive a used car and what to look for while you’re taking it out for a spin, you’ll feel more comfortable and confident about the process. Check out this comprehensive guide on how to test drive a used car.

Check For Other Issues

Lastly, there is an assortment of smaller things you can test out during your test drive:

  • Trunk Releases do either the front hood or trunk release properly or do they get stuck? Do they stay securely closed or does it open on its own sometimes?
  • Gas Panel & Cap do they get stuck or and do they stay securely closed?
  • Transmission for manual or automatic, are there any issues with the gears shifting up or down?

You can also check and test out any other options or features that the vehicle has, such as a sunroof, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, heated seats, etc to make sure they work properly.

Useful Tip!

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Test Drive Pro Tip #6 Fire It Up

Start the car with the hood open. Listen for funny sounds.

  • Does it idle well?
  • Does it sound like air is escaping?
  • Does smoke come off of the engine?
  • Walk around to the back does smoke come out of the exhaust? Smoke that doesnt dissipate shortly after the engine starts could mean the car is burning oil or coolant.

A lot goes into the inspection process, which is just one of the reasons we inspect every car sold on Shift for our customers. The findings from the 200-point inspection are compiled into a report that we give both buyers and sellers so that everyone is on the same page.

Protecting Your Car And Your Insurance During A Pre

How to check and test drive a used car

When youre asked about test driving your used car for a private sale, youre also lending that person your insurance. Make sure you keep these things in mind:

  • Check with your insurance broker to see what your insurance policy allows. This can help you avoid a lot of headaches. It also gives you ironclad reasons for prohibiting solo test drives if that is the case.
  • Make sure the driver has a valid drivers license. This is basic. You would never knowingly lend an unlicensed driver your car, of course, but it pays to double-check. Should the prospect refuse to provide you with their license, then dont let them in your car. Trust is a two-way street.
  • Ask if the seller has an existing policy. Although its not required to drive your vehicle, feel free to ask them if they have one. This could provide you with an additional layer of protection for the test drive.
  • Start and end your test drives around police stations. Its considered a best practice because anyone with a criminal record probably wont feel comfortable meeting you there, tipping you off if something is about to go wrong. If thats not an option, then consider moderately populated, spacious parking lots.
  • The most important piece of advice is to trust your instincts. If any aspect of the potential buyer makes you uncomfortable, dont turn over the keys. As a private seller, you are not compelled to let somebody drive your carever.

    Seriously, what else can you do in 3 minutes?

    Boil half an egg?

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    Test Drive Tip #: Do Your Research

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    Before scheduling a test drive, make sure you do your research. Have an understanding of the used car model youre looking at, and be prepared to ask plenty of questions.

    Research the price of the car too. Check to see how close it is to its blue book value. According to Autobytel, a much higher price should strike you as unrealistic, while a much lower price should make you question whether or not the car has any issues.

    Get Comfortable For Your Test Drive

    Settle in to the drivers seat. Set the seat height and distance from the steering wheel and pedals to where you feel comfortable. Adjust the mirrors and check the position of all the controls. Make sure you can find the pedals, the shifter and the turn signals.

    Turn off the radio to avoid distractions. Dont let the salesman or seller rush you through this process. If youre not comfortable youre not giving the car a chance to impress you, and you may not be safe either.

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    Learn How To Test Drive A Car Like A Mechanic In 10 Minutes Or Less

    Get complete confidence on car test drives. Heres everything to look, listen and smell for . PLUS: A free downloadable checklist to take with you

    In car buying, the test drive is the moment of truth.

    A test drive is typically the last thing that happens before a customer goes to buy a car. In fact, more than half of all shoppers buy the very first car they test drive, according to Cox Automotive.

    That isnt always a great idea.

    Dealers know that, if youve reached the point where youre ready to test drive a car, youve likely done so after hours of research. Youve checked out lots of different models and prices. You arent going into a test drive blind.

    Except, in a way, you are going into it blind.

    How To Inspect A Used Car

    Buying a new car? Use this 25

    A careful evaluation will help you steer clear of hidden problems

    Finding a trouble-free used car has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with applying good research and investigative skills. Knowing how to spot potential problems and determining how reliable a used vehicle is can save you from expensive automotive headaches down the road. The following advice can help you to avoid a lemon and find a good value.

    No matter what you are shopping for, right now its important to minimize contact with others to help prevent spread of the novel coronavirus.

    You can use services like Carvana, Tred, or Vroom to handle most aspects of the sale without meeting the seller.

    But for most people, buying a used car is an in-person experience, whether with a private party or at a dealership.

    Do your research online, and communicate with the seller by email, phone, or text. Understand that some private sellers might not want to let you test-drive the vehicle and/or have it inspected by a mechanic, so youll have to decide whether you are okay with that. If you do take it on a test drive, ask the seller to clean the car thoroughly prior to your drive.

    Finally, ask the dealer how much of the process you can do online or over the phone. The more paperwork you can handle virtually, the less time you need to spend at the dealership.

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