How to test drive a second hand Car

How to test drive a second hand Car

Second hand cars can be tempting and it is very easy to get carried away when looking for a second hand car.

With a shiny exterior, spotless interior and tempting price, it is tempting for some to just hand over cash and drive off. Problem arises when the car squeaks and creaks the moment you drive over a speed bump.

 Here are a few tips on how to test drive that potential new-to-you ride:

Plan an Inspection

Whether the seller is a used car dealer or a private individual, confirm that you will be able to take the vehicle to a mechanic of your choosing if you short-list it for consideration. A mechanic can find hidden issues, problems, or trouble signs in a used vehicle quickly.

If you want to eliminate uncertainty about the mechanical condition of a used vehicle, a mechanic is your best friend, so ask the seller if you will be able to take the ride to your mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection, or if they will be willing to meet you there.

Drive before you buy

Check the car out before it has  been started for the day. While you are  at it, take a peek under the car to see if there are any puddles of fluid that have formed on the floor. Also, This gives you a chance to see how a car performs in a cold start.

Now that you have started the car, open the hood and check for any noises coming out of the engine such as ticking sounds, knocks or rattles. After that, turn the air conditioning on to observe of any vibrations from the car.

Transmission test

Even before you set off, there is a quick and easy way to test out the transmission for both manuals and automatics. In automatic transmission cars, step on the brake and cycle through each gear. It is supposed to be smooth and free of clunking noises. The same applies for cars with CVTs (continuously variable transmission) and DCTs (Dual Clutch Transmission).

In manual transmission cars, place your foot on top of the clutch pedal. The pedal is not supposed to sink with the natural weight of your foot. If it does sink, the clutch is on its way out. Also check for excessive play from the shifter when the car is in gear.

Setting off

Accelerating from a standstill, observe if there is smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe

While driving at low speeds, find a 90 degree corner or turn the wheel as far as you can and observe if there are clicking or rubbing sounds. If there is a clicking sound present, the CV joints have to be changed or you run the risk of being stranded as the car will be unable to move. Listen for clonking noises coming from underneath the car.

Drive over speed bumps and take note of any sounds emanating from underneath. Observe if the car feels wallowy (maalon) after driving through a rough patch of road. Like the bounce test, a car is supposed to be settled after one rebound.

At both low and moderate speeds, check the brakes to see how far the pedal travels. If there is squeal or if it pulls to one side, the car may need alignment or, worst case scenario, has been in a major accident. A car is always supposed to stop straight with no steering input.

Healthy Suspension Does not Make Noises

Once you have confirmed that the climate control fan and stereo system are in proper working order, turn both off and drive in silence down a bumpy road. Healthy cars don’t make unwelcome noises from beneath on rough roads, so if you hear any, the vehicle in question is likely in need of some attention to its suspension components. Worn ball joints, tie-rod ends and bushings are common sources of suspension noise, so be on the lookout.

After the drive

As a rule of thumb, never buy the first car you find. Widen your scope of cars to check out and do a process of elimination. If the first car you checked out was the best among those you inspected, that is the only time you buy it.

Yudeshnee Pillay Bechan