Test driving a used car is a very different beast to testing a new car. Of course, you still need to check the car meets your needs in terms of size, space, practicality, and how it drives, but you also need to check the car is in decent condition.
As well as driving the car, you should give it a thorough going over inside and out, looking for any potential signs of trouble. That means looking over the body, as well as in the cabin, under the bonnet, and in the boot.
Checks to make on the test drive
Once you’re happy all is in order, you can hit the road, where you need to look for any signs of potential trouble.
When you start the engine, listen out for any odd noises and make sure there’s no blue smoke from the exhaust. Knocks from the engine could be a sign of problems that will be costly to fix, while blue smoke is a sign the engine is burning oil.
However, don’t worry about white smoke, as this is just vapour created when condensation inside the exhaust evaporates.
Back inside, check that no dashboard warning lights stay on, and before you pull away, check the steering works ok, with no play in it.
Once you’re on the move, make sure there are no vibrations through the steering wheel; listen out for any strange noises from the suspension; and, check the car stays in a straight line on a straight road, without pulling to one side when you brake.
Most importantly, if you have any questions or concerns, speak to the seller immediately.