5 things to look out for when test driving a car
Buying a new car is an exciting time. It’s also a big investment so it’s one you want to make sure you get right. You could be paying tens of thousands of pounds for your new vehicle so you’d be wise to do your research properly before signing on the dotted line.
Whether you’re buying your dream car from a Mercedes Dealership or a second-hand vehicle through the AA – https://www.theaa.com/used-cars/, always take the car for a test drive. When you’ve set your sights on your dream car, it can be hard to look at it objectively which means you could miss some crucial warning signs.
To avoid making a choice that’s going to cause you more of a headache than anything else, below we share five things to look out for when test driving a car.
Is it suited to your driving needs?
Test drive your car where you’ll be using it the most. If it’s a commuter car for example, head to the motorway. If you’ll be driving down winding country roads, go there because it’s important to know that the car drives comfortably where you need it to.
Without a decent engine, your new car isn’t going very far. Look out for excessive exhaust smoke, strange noises, oil leaks and also make sure you start the car from cold. A warm engine can potentially mask issues.
Your and other road users’ safety is dependent on the effectiveness of your brakes. When you apply the brakes, the car should stop in a straight line and there shouldn’t be any vibrations or rubbing noises. It’s also a good idea to test the handbrake on a hill start – there shouldn’t be any slippage.
Signs it has been in an accident
A car that has been involved in a minor altercation is unlikely to cause you any long-term problems but one which has been in a serious accident could affect the safety and roadworthiness of the vehicle.
If you’re buying second-hand, you’re relying on the honesty of someone who is likely to be a complete stranger so it’s a good idea to know how to spot the signs that a car has been involved in an accident.
- The paintwork might be a slightly different shade in some areas.
- A brand new part on an old and largely worn vehicle – particularly head and taillights or airbag covers.
- Original features have been replaced.
- Door panels have inconsistent gaps or are misaligned and doors are hard to shut.
- The alignment is off. This can be common in older cars and doesn’t necessarily mean it has been in an accident but it’s worth getting it checked out because it could be a bent chassis.
- Welding marks.
- Mismatching or missed screws and fasteners.
Remember to check the outside too
Don’t forget to have a thorough inspection of the outside of the vehicle because this can give you a good idea about the health of the car.
Things to look out for include:
- Scratches – these are usually just aesthetic and the result of general wear and tear. If you’re buying from a dealer, they can normally get these out for you. It’s easier to spot any damages to the paintwork on a bright, sunny day.
- Rust – if someone has let their car get rusty, it may be a sign they haven’t been looking after it very well. Frame rust can be particularly problematic. If you’re concerned, have a read of this article: https://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2014/02/buy-car-rust.html
- Missing pieces – unless you’re a car expert you may be none-the-wiser so it’s a good idea to take a friend who’s a bit more car-savvy.
- Even if you’re buying a brand new car, it’s still a good idea to check because vehicles can get damaged during shipping and test drives.