Sunday, February 14, 2010

How to Test Drive a Used Car

Used car dealers don’t lie, they just don’t tell you all of the truth. Which is why it’s important for you to find it out for your-self, with a proper test drive. Here are a few things you should remember to do if you’re thinking about buying a used car:
1: Ask for a vehicle history report, do this in the beginning, this will tell you what to look out for while testing the car. For example, if the report says there was a front end collision, you want to concentrate a bit more attention to the front, right? Just to make sure that it was repaired properly and there are no issues.
2: Open the doors/hood/trunk and check for overspray on the corners, which is basically just a drop of paint that doesn’t belong. This will show if a car was repainted/repaired.
3: Check for any small scratches which may have been left over from when the car was being sanded in a repair shop. This will also show you if the car had any bodywork done to it. These scratches are extremely small, but it’s easier to notice them on a very bright day, with the suns’ rays focused on the bodywork.
4: Look under the hood to find any dents/imperfections which may have been caused by an accident. The metal under the hood is sometimes inaccessible so body-shops just don’t bother to completely repair it, which is why it’s sometimes a good indicator.
5: Check the interior for rips/cracks/pet hair/cigarette burns. This will not only help you imagine previous history of the car, but will also allow you to negotiate the price lower.
6: Start the car, listen for any unusual sounds. Also look out for strong vibration, which is usually a sign of engine misfire, and sometimes it might mean there was damage in the front.
7: Time for a drive, first of all make sure the transmission shifts smoothly. If you’re test driving a newer GM vehicle like a Saturn Aura for example, hard transmission shifts are sometimes caused by electronics because the computer needs to be reset after an accident. Some people don’t know that and just leave it like it is, thinking it’s normal.
8: Accelerate hard, make sure the clutch isn’t slipping and it pulls well, this is also a good test of the transmission.
9: Test the brakes by stopping quickly, if the car has Anti-Lock brakes, make sure they kick in to test them. If they don’t work it could mean a broken ABS wire which might have been damaged during an accident.
10: Drive straight to make sure the wheel isn’t pulling to one side, this could mean bad alignment which leads to worse fuel economy.
Obviously you might want to do something else depending on the circumstances, but those 10 steps are a must. If all of them check out, you have one good vehicle on your hands.

by Ilia Lou


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