Remember these tips when test driving a vehicle

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Remember these tips when test driving a vehicle with (Image: Supplied)
Remember these tips when test driving a vehicle with (Image: Supplied)

By Sheryl Thiel

Insider tips for that all-important test drive - 8-point test drive checklist

When buying a car, a thorough test drive is vital. If you're buying a used car, the test drive is even more imperative. It is the perfect opportunity to make sure there are no mechanical problems, and everything is in good working order.

Once you have compiled a shortlist of cars that meet all your needs and wants, it is time to go test driving. Take a friend or family member with you who might pick up on things you might miss.

A short test drive near the dealership is a good start, but a lengthier test drive is better, allowing you to “live” with the car for a bit longer. Request if you may take the vehicle out for at least a 45-minute drive to make sure the test drive includes everything from parking and low speed manoeuvring to highway driving.

Before you drive off, it is important to know what you might be liable to pay in the event you are involved in an accident during a test drive, such as insurance excesses. 

TIP: Before you sign a test drive agreement, make sure you read it to ensure you’re comfortable with all the conditions.

In a new car, the test drive will help you determine whether you like the driving feel and comfort of the car, and whether it’s a practical fit for your needs. 

A used car test drive is a bit different in that you’re also looking for mechanical faults or other issues that may have arisen as a result of wear and tear or poor maintenance from previous use. 

The 8-point test drive checklist from, supported by Motus Nissan (previously Imperial Nissan), to comprehensively consider every aspect of a prospective car purchase:

Test drive checklist:

Before you drive off, check if there is any exterior damage such as dents, chips or scratches on the body work. Make sure they are noted by the salesperson, or you could find yourself liable for damage you did not do.

1. Engine and suspension

The car should run smoothly during accelerating, decelerating and when driving steadily. The water temperature gauge should remain in the safe range (or the temperature light should stay off). Rattling or knocking sounds might suggest incorrect tuning or engine or suspension wear.

2. Steering and brakes

Steering should be responsive with no vibration or 'free play'. Ensure the car stops smoothly, strongly and in a straight line when the brake pedal is pressed.

3. Clutch and gears

Check that gear changes are smooth and decisive.

4. Comfort

Adjust the driver’s seat, steering wheel, and mirrors before you start. Ensure you are completely comfortable, with clear vision to the front and rear. Sit in all the seating positions. Check if there is enough room for the intended occupants.

5. Switches

Locate and test the main switches, such as the wipers/washers, head lights and hazard lights.  

6. Air Con and Technology

Turn on the air-conditioning to ensure it works effectively. Try out all the technology or features, like the satellite navigation, Bluetooth, and radio.

7. Safety

Check that all seat belts are in working order and if you have young children, take along car seats to test if they fit in the car with easily accessible anchor points and seat belt buckles.

8. Space

Check the boot size to ensure it will accommodate any large items you will need to carry, such as golf clubs, prams, or luggage.

Buying a used car from a name you can trust is advisable. With you can even book a test drive online. Simply click on the car you fancy, fill in the enquiry form and remember to tick the “book a test drive” box. Remember to take your valid driver’s licence along with you!

Visit for more info, or join the conversation on Facebook, YouTube and  Twitter.

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