From reduced insurance premiums to a smaller sticker price, buying a used car is often times a much better proposition than purchasing a brand new vehicle. When properly maintained, used cars can offer excellent performances at great rates for long periods of time, thus making then excellent deals for the discerning driver. That being said, a used car has a much higher chance of having pre-existing issues that may very well exacerbate in time, which is why a thorough examination of all its chief aspects is mandatory before any deal is agreed upon. In this regard, test-driving your chosen vehicle can offer you valuable clues about its functionality and potential durability. Here are some of the most essential things to take into consideration during your test-drive:
- Do an in-depth pre-test inspection
Before you even think about getting behind the wheel, ensure that the vehicle is in good shape by examining its interior and exterior thoroughly. Take a look at oil, coolant and transmission fluid levels, check tire pressure and verify if all the controls on the car’s dashboard function properly. Then proceed to start the car and look for signs of excessive smoke coming out of its tailpipe in the rearview mirror. If you suspect the car may have been involved in an accident, touch a rubberized magnet along the sides of the car. If the magnet doesn’t stick, it’s a sign that there may be a lot of body filler underneath the paint.
- Set appropriate benchmarks
Too many drivers simply motor around a bit without having any specific guidelines, but this only offers a perfunctory view of the car’s capabilities, not to mention its potential issues. A better idea would be to set certain guidelines and then stick to them. For instance, if it’s essential that your car has excellent steering feel, don’t settle for one that feels herky-jerky even if it boasts many other significant features. The same rule applies with things like storage room, gas consumption or environmental-friendliness. Don’t hesitate to take your time finding the perfect car, even if that means having to try out several vehicles before you come across one that fits your ideals.
- Involve the car in all regular driving procedures
If your pre-test inspection went well and your expectations are all jotted down, it’s time to climb into the vehicle and begin your test-drive. Test-driving should be done with a clear focus on recreating actual driving conditions. This means involving your car in normal speeds, typical acceleration and deceleration patterns, and seeing how responsive it is to your commands. Steering wheel sensitivity is an especially important aspect that pertains to your safety and overall comfort levels while driving the car. Make sure you take plenty of turns during your test-drive and go out of your way to hit the occasional bump and see how your car’s suspension reacts.
- Test all the car’s bells and whistles
Evaluating your car doesn’t stop at essentials like the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph. Indeed, your overall level of satisfaction is tied to other aspects of the driving experience as well. So make sure you properly evaluate the car’s air conditioning and heating capabilities, and play some music on the radio to see if the vehicle’s sound system is to your liking. Finally, remember to drive for a period of time with the radio turned off and the windows open, so you can pick up on any strange noises your car might be making.
- Get a second opinion
No matter how experienced or thorough you may be, it’s important to remember that cars are spectacularly complex objects that can go wrong in a myriad ways. Always bring along another knowledgeable person on your test-drive, who may be able to notice things you didn’t have the time or inclination to pay attention to. Professional test drivers exist, and their services may not always be cheap, but they can save you from a lot of hassle by double-checking your own observations and measurements.
That concludes our quick overview on the five tips anyone should be aware of while test-driving a used vehicle. Reputable providers such as Zooper Cars put a primer on client satisfaction, and are generally comfortable in letting their customers take as much time as needed before coming to a decision. Buying a used car isn’t rocket science, but it is the kind of thing that is best done with a clear and calm mindset in order to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
It is a simpler task with new vehicles as you do have a warranty and it is much easier but a lot more expensive option. Just for a comparison, the base version of the new 2018 Mazda 6 will be priced at under $23,000, but you can find used one that is about two years old at an incredible price from $12,000 to $16,000. As you can see it does pay off to get a used vehicle especially one that is as good as Mazda 6.