What to Check for When Test Driving a Vehicle

Mercedes-Benz DRIVE

Test driving a vehicle is an important step to discovering whether it’s right for you. The test drive is often underutilized as a troubleshooting tool but it can actually tell you a lot about the overall condition of the vehicle. With these simple tips you can learn how to get the most out of your test drive.

1. Ignition

First of all, make sure the vehicle is cold before you try to start it. Check the temperature gauge or even just rest your hand on the bonnet to see whether it has been running before you arrived. Sellers will sometimes get the engine warmed up before a viewing so that it appears to be in a better condition than it actually is.

Once you’re satisfied it is truly starting from cold, make sure it starts correctly. Obviously, if it falters or struggles to start then there may be an issue with the alternator or battery. After you’ve completed the test drive, turn the engine off and then on again to make sure it does actually start satisfactorily when warm.

2. Gears

When pulling away, take greater notice of the biting point. The first sign of damage to a clutch is often manifested in the biting point being too high or too low. Throughout the drive, feel how the clutch pedal reacts to different pull-away situations and listen to your instincts about any concerns; an experienced driver will naturally know if a clutch feels off.

As you move through the gears, pay extra attention to the ease of transition between them and be wary of any that stick or are difficult to change. Make sure your test route includes opportunities to move through all the gears several times by taking roads that you know will be open as well as ones where you’re likely to encounter stop/start traffic. Just cruising around the block is of no use to you on your fact-finding mission of a test drive. If the vehicle has an automatic gearbox, cross-check the gear changes with the road speed and rev counter to ensure they’re inline and occur at appropriate times.

3. Steering and tracking

Ideally, a power assisted steering wheel should feel smooth, light and responsive. As you’re driving, pay attention to how the wheel feels in your hands as you turn corners and be aware of any movement or unwanted feedback it might give you.

On a straight and level section of road, try letting go of the steering wheel just briefly to see if it tracks in the direction you left it or whether it starts to pull to one side. If it does veer, even slightly, there may be a more serious issue with the tracking.

4. Sounds

An old car seller’s trick is to turn on the radio, even on low, to drown out any incriminating sounds coming from the engine. Make a point of turning off the radio as soon as you get in the car and insist on it being off for the entire journey. Most drivers will know the sound of a faulty engine when they hear it, so listen carefully through all the different stages of the drive, particularly during acceleration, braking, and gear changes.

Listen out also to the sounds of the suspension, frame and bodywork of the car as you turn corners or negotiate bumps in the road. Any alien sounding clunks will be more apparent when driving over uneven surfaces and can reveal any issues in the car’s chassis or suspension.

5. Suitability

Throughout the whole drive, you should be thinking about whether the vehicle is right for your intended purpose. Tailor your route to your own needs by researching the local area beforehand. If you want a car to drive through narrow city streets, find a small road and try some three-point turns to test the car’s maneuverability in tight spaces. If you want a car for cruising long distances, hit the motorway and see how she handles.

The best way to get the most out of your test drive is to make it work for you. Do your research in advance and create a rigorous and personalized plan of action that will give you a greater idea of whether you’d be willing to spend your hard earned cash on the vehicle. By knowing what to look for and putting the vehicle through its paces, you can find yourself the perfect car at the perfect price.


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With these simple tips you can learn how to get the most out of your test drive. 🏁 Learn more: http://phau.us/IjP0


Posted by Philly Auto on Thursday, January 25, 2018


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