Car tips -How to test drive a car before buying it

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Looking to test drive a car before buying it? Most people think that taking a car for a test drive is a piece of cake – it’s just a case of checking your mirrors, adjusting your seat and finding the bite point on the clutch (should you be going manual), right? Well, not really – given it’s a big purchase, you want to make sure that your money’s being spent properly.

With this in mind, we’ve put together this list of often-unconsidered tips for you to think about when you’re looking to get your next – or even your first –new or used car.

Tip #1: Always ask questions…Remember: Don’t ask? Don’t get

Many people can feel over-cautious when speaking to salespeople, but whatever you do, don’t avoid questions you want to ask because you feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.


If you’re serious about a car, remember to ask if you could use this car for an entire day – or at least a few hours. Sure, you might get turned down, but you also may get your wish. If you test a car over hours and not minutes, you’ll be able to test much more than the clutch and gearbox.


Tip #2: Drive the car as you would usually

As soon as you’re in the driver’s seat, don’t err on the side of caution. Obviously, the car’s not yours yet, but if you drive in a different way to how you would normally, you’ll get a false impression of the vehicle. So long as you’re not breaking the law with power slides and travelling at twice the speed limit, you’re all good.


One thing to specifically consider is the acceleration prowess of your vehicle. Head onto an A-road at the national speed limit and put your foot down. Is the car jittery, underpowered, or too powerful for you? How does the car handle?


Tip #3: Go off the beaten track

While you may spend a lot of your time in town centres and negotiating traffic lights and other motorists, it’ll also take you along back roads. Head to the countryside and try out a B-road – this is the best opportunity you’ll get to try the accelerator, brakes, clutch and gearbox. What’s more, you’ll understand the car’s size, handling and suspension.


Tip #4: Park up and pull away

Finally, it’s worth visiting the one place you may not actually want to: a retail park or supermarket. Here, you’ll be able to measure up manoeuvrability, visibility, and that all-important reserve gear. Check your blind spots, tight turns and other often-avoided situations. If you’re in a car park after hours, or an industrial estate, have a crack at an emergency stop, too!