How to Make the Most of Your Test Drive

  • Posted 20 Jan

How to Make the Most of Your Test Drive

If you’re buying a used car, it’s important that you do a number of checks to make sure that you’re not buying a lemon.

One of the most important aspects of these checks is to ensure that you take a thorough test drive.

Aim to schedule the test drive when you’re not rushed.

Make sure you have a notebook or paper to make notes on so that you don’t forget anything that happens during the test drive.

To make the most of your test drive, follow our tips below.


#1: Review fluids


Before you take the car out on the road, you’ll want to check under the hood and look at five different areas:

  1. Oil dipstick
  2. Coolant
  3. Power steering fluid
  4. Radiator cap
  5. Brake fluid

Check levels to make sure they are ok and that the oil is NOT a tar colour or tar-like consistency — this signifies that something is not right.


#2: Check tyres and car body


With the tyres, you’re looking for any uneven wear, such as marks on the side of the tyres or deep grooves through the middle of the tyre.  You’re also looking for bald patches or anything that doesn’t look normal.

If there is uneven wear, there could be suspension issues, which indicates something to get checked further with a qualified mechanic.

As you check the car body, check panels for scratches, changes in paint colour and gaps that shouldn’t be there.

Open doors several times to make sure they open easily and don’t stick or creak. Do the same with the hood and boot.


#3: Check interior and lights


As you’re getting in the car, check the seats for normal wear and tear. Worn seats are easily repaired; so don’t worry too much about those.

As you’re driving, try out each of the following, noting any unusual noises along the way:

  1. Windows – do they wind down easily? Any scratches and weird noises present?
  2. Buttons – test them all, including the radio stations. Do interior lights work or do bulbs need replacing?
  3. Check indicator lights, headlights and brake lights as well. Is everything working?
  4. Don’t forget to check the windshield wipers, particularly if it’s not raining!
  5. Turn the air-conditioning on and make sure it blows cold and hot when set to those temperatures. If it’s not super cold, it could be out of gas.
  6. Check the power steering, turning the steering wheel all the way right and left before driving away. Note any noises or stiffness you feel.


#4: While driving


Take note of how easily (or not) the car shifts gears. If a manual, note how easy it is to move into first. If it’s hard or makes a clunking noise, it could be close to braking.

If it’s an auto and you notice that the gears are late to shift, it could be even worse. Definitely a sign to walk away.

If the brakes are slow to engage, you’ve got issues. If they make a noise, they could be near replacing or may have just been replaced, so make sure to ask the owner.

Take note of how the engine sounds — is there a lot of noise or is it fairly silent? Any ‘clacking’ or other weird noises could indicate that some engine components need replacing.

Aim to drive the car for at least 30 minutes so that you can properly run it through its paces.

Don’t forget to have your own mechanic check things out too.


If you need help finding the right car or assistance with car finance, the team at Australian Credit and Finance are here to help. Call our helpful team today!

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