Top 10 Tips on How to Test Drive Used Cars

August 9th, 2022 by

About 40 million people around the world are buying a used car every year and for good reason – used cars are a great investment! You save money when you purchase a used car, and when you find the right one it’s well worth the search.

Test driving cars is an essential part of the process. Do you know the difference between test driving used cars versus new vehicles?

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to look for when test driving a used car! At Red McCombs, we are passionate about providing superior customer service and giving our customers the best vehicle options.

Read on to learn our best tips to test drive a car.

1. Size It Up

It might sound basic, but the first thing you should consider when test driving a used car is how big the vehicle is.

If you park in a garage or have a parking space, you should know how big that space is and make sure the car can fit in that area. If you want your car to transport large or heavy items, make sure it’s big enough for your needs. Don’t be afraid to use measuring tape!

2. Check Out the Exterior

Make sure to look over every part of the car’s exterior before you step inside to start your test drive.

Walk around the vehicle and look for any scratches, dents, peeling paint, or any other signs of wear and tear.

Run your fingers along the gaps between the body panels to make sure the gaps are even, especially around the bumper and hood. Uneven gaps could imply previous damage from an accident.

Make sure to look at the tires and take note if the tires are from different brands or don’t pass the penny-tread test. Simply place a penny, with Lincoln’s head facing down, into the tire tread. If you can still see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tires need to be replaced.

Move each mirror and make sure those work correctly. Press down on each corner of the car to make sure it doesn’t bounce.

3. Feel Out the Interior

Part of the importance of test driving a car is making sure you’re comfortable. The vehicle needs to be in good condition, but taking into account that you will be sitting in your car very often, it needs to be comfortable!

Make sure to sit in every seat, not just the driver’s seat. Check the front, back seat, and trunk for odd smells.

Lower each window and open the sunroof to make sure the windows work properly. Lift any carpets and check for rust or smells underneath layers of carpet. Check for tears or stains inside as well.

4. Notice the View

Once you’re settled into the driver’s seat, take notice of what your view of the road looks like.

Are there blind spots? If so, can you adjust your seat or yourself enough to work around them?

Make sure you like the view from your seat and that you’re comfortable with the placement of each window and mirror.

5. Drive Various Speeds in Different Places

Used car test driving comes down to finding out how the car performs on the road. This is the real test of whether or not you will want to buy the car.

Once you hit the pavement, make sure to drive the car at different speeds and take it on the freeway. If you get the opportunity, drive it over train tracks and gravel paths or other surfaces that will test the quality of the car.

6. Get Very Comfortable

Once you figure out how to test drive a car to check for quality, make sure you test out how useable and comfortable it is as well.

Adjust your seat, turn on the radio, test the speakers, and press all the radio buttons. Try to pair your smartphone with the car to make sure it’s possible. Test out any USB port and auxiliary inputs.

Use every warning light and turn on every light in the car. Press the horn and also try out the windshield wipers.

7. Look Under the Hood

If you’re not sure what to look for under the hood, make sure to take someone with you who does know about cars.

Generally, you want to check and make sure the various belts and hoses aren’t cracked or have holes. Check the color of the antifreeze to make sure it isn’t milky or rusty.

If possible, check the fluids as well. Check the oil, transmission fluid, and brake and power stealing fluids.

8. Listen and Feel

Make sure to listen when you test drive used cars. Listen to the sounds it makes while you drive and if it makes any sounds when you’re at a stop.

Listen for any sound the car makes when you’re in the process of braking and when you turn on the air conditioner.

Also, make sure to feel how the car drives as you steer it over different surfaces. If something feels off, it’s worth checking out or asking about.

9. Ask About Paperwork

Don’t be shy to ask about the vehicle’s history. That may mean asking to see reconditioning paperwork or the vehicle history report.

Reconditioning paperwork will show you what the dealership has done to the car since they purchased it. This will give you a better idea of what to look for when testing it out.

vehicle history report will tell you if the car has been in any major or minor accidents.

10. Ask to Have the Vehicle Inspected

You can also ask to have the vehicle inspected by your mechanic. It’s great to test out a used car, but it’s even better to have a professional give it a once-over before you make a purchase.

This way you will have an outside opinion to consider and feel better about your used car purchase.

Use These Tips to Test Drive a Car Today

Now you know all the best tips for test driving cars so you know what to look for and can make the most informed decision when buying a used car. When it comes to used cars, Red McCombs has all the best options, no matter what you’re looking for.

Check out all our available used vehicles before coming down to test drive one for yourself today.

Posted in Use Car Tips