Advice and Tips

What to look out for when you test-drive

Paul Green, National Remarketing Manager
Tuesday, 20 August 2019

We are faced with an ever-increasing choice in the car market and deciding on a new vehicle can be a lengthy and sometimes stressful process. It doesn’t even stop after you’ve chosen when to buy, your budget and preferred make and model. So below we are sharing our top 5 tips every car purchaser should read before they take a test-drive or buying a second-hand car:

1. Take your time

Car salespeople can be extremely pushy when it comes to selling you a vehicle, but don’t let this cloud your judgement.  Focus on whether the car ticks all your boxes; how it will fit into your lifestyle and meet your driving preferences are all things you need to seriously consider.

Don’t feel pressured to hurry – we would advise to take at least a 30 minute test-drive, if not longer, and try some of your usual routes. Remember the car must suit you and your daily life. We would suggest including a hill in your route as they can be particularly helpful at revealing if the car has any underlying mechanical issues.

2. Make mechanical checks

If you’re not a motoring enthusiast and consider cars to be just a means of getting from A to B, then the technical jargon you face during a test-drive can be overwhelming. Try not to be intimidated, but ensure that you ask these questions to make sure the car is in full working order:

  • Test the brakes – does the car stop in a straight line?
  • Is the steering responsive, without vibration?
  • Are there any unusual rattling sounds coming from the suspension?
  • Is the engine quiet and smooth?
  • Does the clutch hit the ‘bite’ point when the pedal is nearing the top? This could indicate a worn clutch.

Top tip: Drive without the radio on, this will allow you to hear fully any unusual noises or rattles that the car makes during the test drive.

3. Ensure comfort and ease of driving

This point sounds obvious, but you need to consider how the car would feel to drive every day and during those longer journeys. Check your visibility – can you comfortably see all mirrors? What’s it like to reverse and park? Is the seat easy to adjust? Although the driver’s comfort is of the utmost importance to ensure safe driving, you also need to consider the comfort of your passengers. Take a friend or family member along for the test-drive, they may have some opinions and thoughts too.

4. Check out the space

The boot can often be the last thing we think about when it comes to buying a car. However, to so many of us it’s a vital part of choosing your new car. If you need space for a dog, a pram or even your golf clubs, you need to consider the shape and size of the boot. Your test drive is the perfect time to do just that, make sure the boot suits all your needs.

5. Compare

Most importantly, a test drive is of no use if you’re only comparing it against your previous car. You’ve probably become accustomed to the quirks of your previous vehicle and anything different may seem like an upgrade! Take another test drive in a similar vehicle to accurately compare the feel of the car you are interested in. You might be surprised at what you notice.

Paul Green, National Remarketing Manager
Bringing you expert insight on things to look out for when buying or selling a vehicle.