Know how to test drive a car like a mechanic

You can learn a lot about a car by researching, talking to other motorists who drive the same car, and checking out the car’s service and accident history. Even with all this information at your fingertips, it’s essential to take a car for a test drive before making your final decision.

You never really know if a car is the right fit for you without driving it first. This is especially important when it comes to purchasing a used car. Take someone with you who can experience the drive with you as a passenger, and who can be a good sounding board if you need it.

No matter what your budget is, you should be after a safe and comfortable car, that drives smoothly, and can easily handle braking, hills, and steering.

 Test driving is an important part of the driving process, so below are our top tips:

1. Check the car for any damages or scratches. Even if it’s new or a demo car, there might still be flaws. Check for them, as you might be able to negotiate a better price if you speak up when you spot them. Alternatively, you can insist the dealership or owner fixes anything before, or on condition of purchase.

2. Check out the comfort factor – do you feel comfortable, and could you sit on those seats for long drives? Test out the passenger seat and back seat too and assess if you’d be comfy on a drive.

3. Assess the tech situation – does the car sync with Bluetooth? Does it have a CD shuttle or USB charging points if these are what you’re after.

4. Check the mileage and ensure it matches up to what the dealer has claimed.

5. To get a full sense of the car’s driving capabilities, take it through suburbs and the highway. Check to see if there are any blind spots when you turn, and how the vehicle fares when you’re overtaking.

6. Test the car’s brakes by braking fairly hard and suddenly (just warn your passengers when you’re going to do so).

7. Drive over speed pumps and up a hill, and also stop at an incline and take off, to see the car’s handling.

8. If there’s a built-in entertainment system or navigation system, try these out to see that they’re user-friendly.

9. Check out the boot and back space, and if you have young kids, assess if the car will easily fit prams and infant or booster seats.

10. Switch off the music if it’s playing, so you can get an idea of how quiet (or noisily) the car drives.

Finally, if it is a used car, it’s a good idea to ask to take the car to your mechanic for a thorough inspection, or if your mechanic can inspect the car on the dealer’s premises. If the dealer or owner refuses to allow you to do this, see this as a red flag and perhaps consider purchasing another vehicle.

 Browse thousands of used cars with MotorHappy

Visit MotorHappy’s online market place, home to thousands of used cars that have all undergone a thorough inspection. Use our free tools to help you through the buying journey:

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