Looking for a used car to purchase that you will walk away with completely happy and satisfied can be a complicated endeavor. These cars have been previously owned, put through their paces and been on great adventures. With more time out on the road, the more aging and degradation a car can feel before finding its way to a car lot to find a new home. As such, checking over a used car yourself and test driving it before a purchase is one of the most powerful tools in your belt to ensure it is in good form before purchase! Here are some quick tips and strategies to consider as you test drive a used car!
1) Plan And Research Ahead Of Time
Often times used cars will have crash reports, mechanic inspections, and even dealer reviews uploaded on various media platforms online. Do a quick search online to see if there is any useful information to note the condition of the car before you head over to the dealership. This could help provide useful information that gives you an idea of certain systems and things to check over when you meet the car in person. Try to form a budget, plan, and look up multiple cars and dealerships in this way before you take your first test drive; having multiple used cars to look at expands your options and helps you stay focused on finding the right one for you!
2) Practice Test Driving A Car
When we are just naturally driving a car, it is easy focusing solely on safe driving and the commute ahead. Gathering useful information while on the test drive itself can be tricky because you also have the dealer vying for your attention; at home, you can go through a practice test drive in your own car to help you prepare! Check each of the car’s systems, inside and out, and try to make sure each mechanic component is working as intended. Have a friend sit with you on the practice test drive in order to help brainstorm what parts of the driving experience are important for you!
3) Inspect The Car Yourself
Performing a general inspection is easy and takes little to no time for you to gauge the general condition of the vehicle. The goal here is to look for obvious issues that could lead to underlying expenses in the future. Check the tire treads with a penny head to make sure they are deep enough; check that each door, window, hood, and trunk open/close without a hitch! Also, check out the lights (front and rear), turn indicators, sun-visors, media system, air conditioning and/or heat, and drive modes so that you know they all function as intended. Peek under the hood yourself, to be sure belts, battery, the oil, and other fluids are in good form.
4) Bring A Friend For The Ride
When inspecting and test driving a car, it is important to look at each aspect of the vehicle to try and observe concrete, objective information on the car’s performance. Having a friend there at the dealership with you can help retain more information and even provide other helpful feedback, especially if they have experience with purchasing a used car and/or are an automotive expert.
5) Focus On The Test Drive
The more useful information you can draw from a test drive the better; if you are able, bring a friend and try to drive under normal conditions you would expect the car to perform in. Commute on an interstate each day? Ask to drive up to highway speeds and maintain it to make sure the car seems to behave alright. Watch for various elements in the car as you accelerate and decelerate; does the front/rear of the vehicle give off weird vibrations or shakes? Is the transmission working properly or is it having a hard time finding the correct gear or shifting harshly? Have your friend take notes on a pad and paper as you call out details is a great way to ensure you retain important information.
6) After The Test Drive
Have a friendly dialogue with the owner about the state of the car, recent repairs, and potential future things to watch out for with the vehicle. Lustine Chrysler Dodge Jeep (Woodbridge, VA) suggests driving multiple cars on the same dealership before choosing a car you want to go with. You may surprise yourself with a car you hadn’t strongly considered before after a test drive!
Purchasing a used car is an exciting adventure, giving another car a new home to explore with you on many adventures over the next set of years! With a bit of pre-planning and some leg work, you can help ensure that you walk away happy with a used car.