What To Consider When Test Driving A Used Car?

Car purchases can be one of the biggest investments in your life. Generally, cars don’t come in easy and forgiving prices that you can easily afford unless you have much to spend. For some, buying a used car is the best option as this can mean huge savings. Because secondhand cars are pre-used, buyers look closely into the performance and conditions of the car before they decide to buy.

Finding the best among the used cars available for sale can be a complex endeavor. To make it easier for you, click here and explore car dealerships around your area or check carzaty and book an appointment to see a car you might like. If you need to reset your appointment, no worries. This is all about your comfort and convenience.

Once your negotiation with car dealers and sellers start, make sure to give the car a test drive. A test drive before buying a car only makes sense because it can save you a lot of trouble. A test drive can give you an overall ‘feel’ of driving the car. At the same time, you will be able to identify conditions and issues that the dealer might have forgotten to tell you. Here are some ideas to help you when test-driving a used car.

1. Set Your Own Benchmarks

As a used-car buyer, you should put your expectations on the same level as the realities. With this in mind, set your own standards for choosing the perfect used car to buy. These standards can include a variety of factors that generally depend on your needs, wants, and target price range.

For instance, when setting benchmarks for car features as a used car buyer, be clear about the features that you highly prioritize (e.g., looks, low maintenance, gas mileage, horsepower, seating capacity, parking space, etc.) and look for these before you try one on a test drive.

While you’re test-driving a used car, note the features that you want most to see if the car meets your benchmarks. Obviously, these will not be as perfect as you might expect since the car has been used. However, it goes without saying, never buy a car you don’t like, even if it’s only a hunch. Yes, you can refuse to buy a car for no real reason at all.

2. Complete a thorough inspection

Since you’re making a huge purchase, don’t be afraid to take your time choosing, inspecting, and negotiating. Before actually riding the car and taking it to a test drive, perform a thorough inspection of the car - its hood, interior, exterior, and undercarriage.

Look for the tiniest imperfections as much as possible, particularly those that the dealer didn’t tell you. Use your five senses very well. Examine the car very closely.

The most noticeable parts of the car that you can possibly find faults with can be the smallest. Take a car door, for example. Opening and closing the door many times can help you identify if it has ripped moldings, faulty locking mechanism, frame damage, or loose hinges.

If you want to be more certain about your planned purchase, you can return with a mechanic for a more thorough inspection. In this way, you can get a better grasp of the car’s quality, particularly if it was already involved in a mishap before.

3. Prepare a checklist

Things to consider when test driving used car

If you want to go the extra mile during your test drive, prepare a checklist and take it with you during your inspection and test drive. Fill out a printed or handwritten one or even on your phone. This is better than just writing notes in your mind.

For every feature and performance indicator that you notice during the test drive, write your personal diagnosis and a few notes. After the test drive, you can add your thoughts and ratings about the car and, hopefully, weigh out the advantages and disadvantages of owning it.

Once you’ve tried test driving different cars, use your checklists and compare one with another. This can be very helpful for you to come to an informed decision. One great example is a car maintenance checklist to check the conditions of your vehicle from time to time.

4. Test-drive in all possible conditions

A great consideration when test driving a good-looking pre-owned car is to drive it not only on any road but in all possible conditions. This way, you’ll know how the car performs on rough and bumpy roads, on slippery roads (yes, try driving through a wet, slippery road where possible), during rush hours, during heavy traffic, in very slow traffic, through the narrowest streets and alleys, over potholes and bumps, around sharp curves and corners, up steep inclines, and virtually every condition that you can find or think of. At the same time, be careful when driving the car.

You can also play with different buttons and features to see how they work. Test the horn, wipers, all locks, lights, and mirrors. Adjust all seats. Look beneath any floor covers in the car and in the trunk. Try out the AC and the heater, the radio, and the CD player if there’s one.

Have someone check the brake warning lights and the turn indicator lights. Be very particular when examining the seatbelts, the brake, and the emergency brake — this can mean your life or death one day. Test these out several times. Point out dings and dents, crevices and nests, clear out dirt and trash as they might be hiding some things you don’t want. Lastly, drive the car with all windows up, and then down to see if there are engine issues and other problems that you can’t hear while the car windows are closed.


When shopping and test driving a used car, you have to be extra-meticulous and observant about everything. The car has been through another driver, and you simply can’t know how the previous owner used the car. You’ll have to see for yourself by trying the suggestions in this article.

Last but not least, take your time. Test-drive slowly and feel the experience. Turn on the music, the heater, the AC. Smell what can be smelled: dust, fuel, smoke, anything. Speed up, slow down, coast, park. Load it up with something heavy and see how the suspension works. Recline the seat or take a nap in the rear. Stretch, curl up. How you feel when you do these is a huge determining factor for buying the car.

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John Miller

John Miller is a cars enthusiast who loves writing anything related to automobiles. He is a passionate blogger writing for innovatecar.com and other auto blogs