a bunch of car keys

Buying a Great Used Car: Things to Look Out for in a Test Drive

A quality used car can represent great value for money compared with a brand new model. However, it’s vital to do your homework when making a purchase – not only to ensure you are paying a fair price for your new wheels but to be able to spot areas of potential future concern.

Booking a test drive is a great way to make sure that your prospective purchase matches its advertised profile. But what do you need to do to get the most out of your test drive?

Stop, Look and Listen

When you arrive at the destination of your test drive, it’s a great idea to follow the highway code!

Stop – take a moment before meeting the seller. This will allow you to take in initial impressions of the car, and to ‘gather yourself’ to avoid falling victim to distraction tactics from the seller.

Look – at both the inside and outside of the vehicle.

  • A good first impression of the vehicle’s exterior speaks volumes about how the car is cared for overall. How clean is the car? Is the bodywork in a reasonable state? Are the tyres worn? Look under the bonnet – are there any spilt liquids or dodgy modifications?
  • Inspect the interior- paying particular attention to safety features such as seatbelts and airbags.
  • An honest seller won’t have any hesitation in showing you the car’s logbook, which should contain a full-service history.

Listen – ask the seller to turn the ignition when you are still outside the vehicle. This will make it easier for you to pick up on any tell-tales problems with the running of the engine.

So, the car seems to be in a reasonable state and you’re happy that the engine ‘sounds’ normal when stationary. How should you proceed during the test drive itself?

Ask Pertinent Questions

Asking questions is a great way to assert your control over the situation. Don’t let the seller ‘wax lyrical’ about the car’s qualities – this literally puts them in the driving seat!

Why is the car being sold? Has the current owner experienced any problems? What repairs (if any) have been made? What about MOT advisories? Are there any electrical faults?

These are good questions to start with, but it’s important to tailor them to the car you see in front of you. If you suspect an issue – ask about it!

Hear the Car Drive

During the test drive, ask for the stereo to be turned off so you are able to hear how the car runs. If possible, ask to drive in different conditions – hills and faster roads will help to highlight any problems with the running of the vehicle.

To Buy?

By now any glaring issues will have been highlighted, and an honest seller will have alerted you to any faults. However, it is not always possible to pick up on underlying issues; this could lead to expensive repair bills in the future.

The good news? It is easy to buy a quality used car from a reputable source. Trusted sellers such as The AA and Autovolo ensure you drive away in a safe and reliable car. This gives you peace of mind whilst saving you lots of time and effort.

*This is a collaborative post*

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