Posted on: Sep. 18, 2017 in Cars

One of the best parts of buying a car is getting to test drive it. Sampling a bit of how the car will handle, how the seat feels, and how the features work can be fun and exciting. But don’t get so caught up in the process that you forget to thoroughly test the car!

New or used, there are a few things you should always do when you’re evaluating a car for purchase.


Check Out the Exterior

Look for scratches, dents, or broken pieces. If the car is used, you may have to accept some minor imperfections, but it doesn’t hurt to ask the dealer if they are willing to make any minor repairs you feel are necessary. A brand-new car should, obviously, look brand new.

Open and close all the doors and windows, as well as the trunk, the liftgate, and the hood. Check the locks, too. Everything should work properly, free of unusual sounds and misalignments.

You can check the shock absorbers by pushing down on each corner of the car, front and back. If it bounces, the shocks may be ready for replacement. You should also look through the spokes in the wheels and observe the thickness of the brake pads. Too thin and they may need replacing soon, too.

Check Out the Interior

Look carefully at the interior of the car by lifting mats, checking inside the doors, and looking around and under the dashboard. If you see caked on dirt or rust, these could be signs of water damage. Sit in every seat to be sure it operates as it should and can be adjusted. Check the back and head rests. You should feel comfortable in the driver’s seat and be able to move it and adjust the level of the seat, the back rest, the head rest, and any other positioning mechanisms.

You’ll also want to test every feature to be sure it functions properly. Press buttons, turn knobs, and flip switches. Turn on the lights and wipers, adjust the mirrors and check the audio system. Be sure everything works as it should. If not, ask for repairs or, if it’s something you can live with or fix yourself, a discount.

Check Out the Drive

If everything you’ve looked at so far is satisfactory, take the car out on the road. See how it handles on highways and back streets and at various speeds. Listen to the way the car sounds at 25 mph, 60 mph, and in between. As you accelerate and brake, the car should not sound like it’s having trouble changing speed. The car should also feel like a smooth ride. If it doesn’t feel right, ask more questions. Steering should be easy and the car shouldn’t drift or buck, and the wheel shouldn’t vibrate, as you drive at higher speeds.

Once you buy a car, you may not be able to address any mechanical or cosmetic concerns so it’s important to address everything before the sale is final. Don’t be intimidated into buying a car you’re uncomfortable with and don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as necessary to be sure you’re getting the car you deserve.

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