One fundamental task you must complete when you view a used car for sale is to test drive it. The idea is to identify any faults with the vehicle and use that knowledge to barter on the price. You will also get an idea of whether you’ll have to pay for expensive repairs too.
The trouble is while most people do test drives they don’t always know what to check! They risk ending up with a “lemon”: a car with lots of problems! In today’s guide, I’ll show you how to do a test drive the smarter way! Here is what you need to know before buying your next used car:
Don’t go for a test drive in the dark
One of the biggest mistakes you will ever make is viewing a used car and driving it in the dark. I’m afraid that I was guilty of breaking that rule myself once. I bought the car, and it was only some weeks later when I washed the car that I noticed a bad spray job on one of the panels!
Had I seen that during the day, I could have used that as an excuse to lower the price of the car more.
Stick to dealerships
A car might sound good on paper but when you see it in person, it could end up being a different story. I recommend sticking to trusted dealers. Sure, you could get a bargain buying from a private seller. But, you’ll often get a better car going to the Imperial Car Supermarket and other dealers like them.
There’s also the fact that private sellers may not have insured or taxed the car you go to see. In those cases, if something happens, you are liable – not the owner.
Feel the bonnet
It might sound odd but before you go on a test drive, put your hand on the bonnet. Does it feel warm? If so, the seller might be trying to mask a problem with cold starts!
Of course, there might be a genuine reason for it being warm. For example, a dealer may have to move the car if it’s blocked in so that you can test drive it.
Check the warning lights when you turn the ignition on
Before you start the engine, observe the warning lights on the dashboard. Many of them should go out after a few seconds. Be sure that you see the airbag and ABS warning lights. If you don’t, it could mean one of two things.
First, the bulb has blown inside the “clocks” and needs changing. Second, it may have got removed to mask an expensive fault. You need to bear one fact in mind about those two warning lights. If they don’t appear on ignition and go out when the engine’s started, it’s an automatic MOT failure.
Test drive at least two exact models
Are you test driving a particular model for the first time? Be sure to do the same at other dealerships too. That way, you’ll work out what noises or smells aren’t normal.