As much as everyone would like it to be, buying a used car isn’t a particularly simple or straightforward process. Haggling on prices aside, you as the buyer have to make sure that the car you want to buy is the right car for you and won’t spring up any unwanted, nasty surprises at you when you least expected – such as major engine problems!
Apart from checking that the car’s history and paperwork are in order and everything is above board, you must take the car you are interested in buying out for a test drive. The reasons for doing so are to make sure that the car feels good to drive and that you will be 100% comfortable driving it.
So on that note, here is a handy checklist that you should print out and take with you (courtesy of Sandles car supermarket) so that you can be sure that the next used car you buy will be the perfect one for you!
1. Do a Visual Inspection
Before you get into the car and take it out for a test drive, the first thing you must do is give it the once-over, so that you can be sure that the car you are about to get behind the wheel of is safe:
- Check that the tyres are of the correct and same size on each axle (although you should bear in mind that some high-performance cars might have wider tyres at the back), and that they have a tread greater than the legal minimum of 1.6mm;
- Ensure that the car’s tyres are inflated properly and do not have any bulges or tears on the sidewalls;
- All of the front, side and rear lights should be fully operational and not be broken in any way;
- If the car has alloy wheels and you can see through the spokes, make sure that the discs and pads have plenty of life left in them. Don’t worry too much about orange-coloredsurface corrosion, as this can be caused if the car’s been sitting for a while or even if it was raining heavily on the previous day and the car was kept outdoors.
2. Buying a Family Car? Bring the Kids with you!
If you have one or more children, and you are buying a car that you will be transporting them all in, you should bring the family with you when you go out for a test drive so that you can check that the car will be comfortable for them to sit in.
3. Things to Check Whilst you’re Out on the Road
When you are test driving the car, you should not have any warning lamps illuminated during driving. If you do, then this could potentially result in a costly repair bill. And don’t let the salesperson fob you off with an excuse.
I once took a car out for a test drive, and the engine management light stayed on the entire time. The salesman said to me it was “because it needs a service” – this would be correct if it was the service indicator light, but it wasn’t, and he was blatantly lying to me!
Acceleration should be smooth as should gear changes, brakes should stop you when you want them to, and there should be no smoke coming out of the exhaust (except maybe for steam if you are driving the car on a very cold day).
There should be strange noises coming from the suspension or the engine bay, especially when you go over bumps in the road.