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Tips On Test Driving A Used Car

By Expert Author: Keith K Spillman

The most important and crucial process of buying a used car is the test drive. This process determines whether you should buy the used car or not. Therefore, you need to prepare a checklist to make sure everything is in a good working order. In this article, we offer tips on how to test drive a used car.


The engine should run smoothly while crushing, accelerating and decelerating. Check whether the water temperature gauge is in a safe range. Knocking or rattling sounds means excessive wear or incorrect tuning.

Check the engine is warmed up before you start it. The seller may warm up the engine to hide the starting troubles of the engine.

Ask the seller when was the belt changed.

When you are starting or running the engine, if you get an unusual smell, blue smoke or smell from the exhaust, it is a serious matter. Better not to purchase such cars.


While changing the gear it should be smooth either in manual transmission or automatic transmission. It shouldn't have any knocking noises or rattles. If these noises are from the front wheel vehicles of the car, it is an indication of worn constant velocity joints.

Body work and suspension:

While you drive over the bumps, listen for any rattles. Check the shock absorbers for any oil leakage.


If you find any blue smoke coming out of the exhaust, it indicates that the oil is burning.


Wandering on straight roads or excessive free travel is an indication of misaligned steering or worn suspension.


While test driving, check for the following:

The car should stop smoothly.

The steering wheel should not vibrate.

The pedal should not feel spongy or sink to the floor.

Turn off the radio and other obstacles to listen any unusual sounds from car engine.

Check and note down the mileage shown by the odometer. Some odometers show the mileage in kilometers and some in miles. After test driving the car check again for odometer reading.

Check and estimate the wear and tear of the car (like pedal rubbers, carpet, etc.) with mileage. It helps to avoid odometer frauds.

While test driving a used car, take the car over a reasonable distance, on different road conditions and on different road surfaces. Buy the car only if you are completely satisfied with it and make sure you get the car checked by your mechanic.

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