Just like you wouldn’t buy a formal shirt or a pair of jeans or shoes without trying them on, you shouldn’t buy a vehicle without test driving it. Test driving a new or preowned car reveals so much about the vehicle that you can’t identify by just looking at it. Just the way it drives or sounds while in motion can tell you if it is the right ride for you. Let’s take a look at the various factors you should keep an eye out for.
1) Bring An Experienced Driver Or Car Mechanic Along
If you are an inexperienced driver or first-time car buyer, it will be of great help if you have someone with you who can point out all the flaws of the vehicle. Ideally, get a professional mechanic or a friend or relative who can give you a second opinion on the performance of the vehicle. If you get a mechanic, he can also give the car a thorough check to see if there are any problems under the hood.
2) Drive A Similar Vehicle Beforehand
Ask a friend for their car or rent a car that is in the category of the car you intend to purchase to get a feel for that type of vehicle. It is a good idea to see how it performs so you can use that experience to compare it to the vehicle you are buying. It will also give you an idea if that is the sort of vehicle you want to purchase so that you don’t waste time figuring it out later.
3) Pre-test Inspection
Before you take the car out for a test drive, take pictures of the exterior of the car to ensure the seller can’t complain afterwards that you damaged the car during the test drive. Whether you are buying a car from a private seller or a dealer, the pre-test inspection is a must as you don’t want any hassles later. Check the coolant and transmission fluid levels, tire pressure, engine condition, and oil levels. Check the body for any dents or improper paintwork as this may indicate that the car has been in an accident. Check the vehicle history report and insurance documents for any information on major repairs. Also, check the paintwork for any discolouration as it is a sign that the part has been replaced.
4) Check Underneath The Vehicle
It is a good idea to lie down and take a look under the vehicle for any signs of damage, rust or leaks. You may be able to spot leaks on the ground underneath the car which means you may have to fix that part once you take ownership of the vehicle. Rust is a sign that the vehicle has not been maintained properly and if not addressed it can spread and weaken the body.
5) Starting The Vehicle
It is important that you start the vehicle and let it idle for a few minutes so that you can listen for any irregular engine noises or outside noises penetrating the cabin. If the cabin is not properly insulated outside noises will seep in. If there are any rattling sounds, it could mean that the engine or casing is not mounted correctly or that something is loose somewhere. Also, look behind the car to see the colour of the smoke and how much smoke is coming out of the exhaust pipe as any discolouration means there is a problem.
6) Driving The Vehicle
Listen for any irregular sounds such as a whining noise while in motion. This noise may be an indication of a problem with the tires, transmission, driveshaft or differential. Take your hands off the steering wheel and your foot off the accelerator to see if the vehicle travels in a straight line as it comes to a stop. Also, drive the car in reverse to see if the rear cameras work as intended. Drive at varying speeds and shift the gears to all the options available to see if they work fine. And finally, apply the brakes to test if they work properly. Listen for any grinding noises when you apply the brakes. Drive the car if possible on various surfaces to check if the suspension system works well. Drive over a few road bumps and take different turns to see if the car handles well without making any weird noises.
7) Check The Tech
Check to see if the navigation system, music system, air conditioner, heater, Bluetooth connectivity, display screens, sunroof, door locking system and power windows work. Check all the seat belts and adjust the seats to ensure they all function normally. Don’t forget to turn on the headlights and emergency flashers and check if they work properly.
8) Check The Tires
Tires older than 3 years are not allowed on vehicles in the UAE. Make sure to check if the tires are damaged and when they were last replaced. Don’t forget to check the condition of the spare tire as well. The tires should not have any flat spots which are a sure sign that vehicle has been idle for an extended period of time. Also, check the wheel alignment to see if they are uneven. This is something that will need to be rectified before you buy the car.
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9) Post Drive Inspection
Once you have driven the car a considerable distance, stop the car in a quiet area and get out to listen for any weird noises. Stand in front of the vehicle and listen to the radiator cooling fan. If the fan runs for a long time after you stop it could mean that the engine is overheating. Get this checked by a mechanic before you decide to purchase the vehicle. Check under the car once again after your test drive to see if you can spot any leaks.
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When shopping for pre-owned cars, save valuable time and effort by shopping for them on the hassle-free and easy-to-use CARS24 website. Cars sold by CARS24 undergo a stringent 150-point quality check and a thorough refurbishment process before being listed on the site. We also provide a 7-days return policy and 2 years of warranty for every vehicle purchased on the site thereby ensuring complete peace of mind for all our customers.