How to Test Drive a Used Car

Once you have compiled a shortlist of cars that meet all your needs and wants, it’s time to go test driving. 

Whether you’re buying a new or used car, one of the most important steps in the process is, of course, the test drive. But sometimes a quick spin around the block just doesn’t cut it. With the salesperson or seller at your side and a speed limit of 50km/h, can you really make a solid decision on whether this is the car for you?

A short test drive near the dealership is a good start, but an extended test drive is better, allowing you to live with the car for a few hours or longer. At a minimum, make sure the test drive includes everything from parking and low-speed maneuvering to urban, arterial and, if possible, motorway driving.

Before you drive off, it’s important to know what you might be liable to pay in the event you’re involved in a collision during a test drive, such as an insurance excess. 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.

Before the test drive

Strangely enough, the driving part of the test drive is only a small part of the experience. So as tempting as it might be to jump right into the driver’s seat and get out on the road take your time and do these things first.

Give the car the once over
Familiarise yourself with everything about the car.

• Open the boot and check how easy it is to get at the spare wheel (or if it has one)
• Open all the doors and climb into the back
• Fold down the rear seats (if possible)
• Check all storage compartments (make sure there’s enough)
• Try out the infotainment/audio system

While you’re doing all of this, you’ll notice how well each part functions. This will give you a general idea of the build quality of the car. It will also help you find any of those little things that might annoy you once the car is yours. If it annoys you on the test drive, then you can bet it will drive you nuts after a few months.

Sit in it for a little while
Now don’t get too excited, you’re not driving yet. You’ll want to make sure that you feel comfortable in the car and the best way to do this is to just sit there without the distraction of driving. Make sure the seat adjusts to fit your height and that you have pretty good visibility.

If you have kids, it might be a good idea to bring them along and have them sit in the back and tell you if it’s comfortable enough. They’ll want to be able to open and close the doors and get their seatbelts on easily.

Consider the test drive route
Ideally, you’ll want to take the car beyond the local neighbourhood and out onto the open road. Talk to the dealer/seller about where you’d like to go or if they know of a good route locally.

You simply can’t get a good feel for a car in a quick two-minute spin so taking it for a long drive is absolutely essential. It’s also not a bad idea to ask if you can take the car out once more at night. Night driving is a completely different experience, and you may notice some things about the car that you couldn’t have during the day.

Do you have a garage? Then ask the dealer/seller if you can drop by your house to make sure the car fits.

During the drive

Once you’re behind the wheel, you’ll need to pay close attention to these things:

1. Steering – Check the steering for excessive free play, pulling to one side or vibration, which could point to suspension or alignment problems.

2. Brakes – Ensure the car stops smoothly, strongly and in a straight line when the brake pedal is pressed. The pedal should not sink to the floor or feel spongy, and the steering wheel should not wobble or vibrate.

3. Exhaust – Check for noticeable exhaust smoke with the engine running at idle and under load during acceleration. Black, blue or white smoke each indicate different engine problems.

4. Engine – 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 wear.

5. Transmission – Check gear changes are smooth and decisive. On front-wheel drive vehicles, a knocking noise when turning indicates worn constant-velocity joints (CV joints).

6. Knocks and rattles – Listen for knocks and rattles as you drive, particularly over bumps and while turning, which could point to loose suspension or body components.

After the drive

At the end of the test drive, it’s okay if you’re not sure whether you want to buy the particular vehicle or model – you’re not under any obligation to buy it.

Once you’re back and parked, the dealer/seller will do all that they can to get you sitting down and talking about finalising that deal. They understand that if you just had a pleasant test drive, then it’s going to be pretty easy to push you into a decision. Don’t do it. Take time to reflect on your experience and to talk with whoever came with you on the test drive.

Even if you’ve fallen in love, it pays to take time to consider the options and try a few cars before you decide. Keeping emotion out of the process will help you negotiate more effectively, too.

This is a massive decision that you’re about to make so don’t allow someone to push you into making your choice on the spot. Go home, think about your experience, the extras available, and most importantly, the financial aspect. If it takes you a week to decide, then at least you’ll know you didn’t rush your decision.

Get it inspected by a professional

If you’re unsure, hire a professional like German Precision to help you.

When buying something big like a new car, have it professionally inspected. A pre-purchase car inspection would cost you $250 to $350, and it’s worth every penny.

If you are looking for a professional pre-purchase car inspector in Melbourne, do not hesitate to contact German Precision or Prepurchase Check today!

sources: strattonfinance.com.au, mynrma.com.au

Should You Buy A Car During COVID-19?

There is widespread confusion about whether you’re allowed to buy a used car during COVID-19, but the motor vehicle is one of the safest forms of transport amid the pandemic.

Used car prices continue to soar as commuters shun public transport, fearing COVID-19 contagion.

According to data analytics firm Datium Insights, used motor vehicle prices rose by 4.4 per cent last week after increasing by 2.1 per cent in the previous week, and the stock remains considerably low.

In terms of category, prices of SUVs rose the most, up 5 per cent, while passenger vehicles gained 4.7 per cent.

Among the top traded vehicles, resale prices for Toyota Hiace and Volkswagen Golf were up 10.2 per cent and 8.2 per cent, respectively.

Many new-car dealerships have adjacent used-car yards, but private buyers and sellers are also allowed to trade vehicles as long as social distancing rules are applied by both parties during test drives and the transaction process.

However, customers still need to be careful when buying a used car.

There seems to be a lot of car selling frauds, which is possible through a number of activities and actions taken by the company.

One of these is when the business does not disclose certain information. Many vehicles that are previously damaged/written off/hail damaged and repaired, HAVE NOT BEEN ADVERTISED as such. This is indicating a deceptive type of seller who is trying to present a vehicle unethically.

If the vehicle was totalled/written-off either due to accident/flood/hail damage and the insurance company signed off on a salvage title being issued for the non-repairable or defective car, this must be disclosed very obviously to the customer seeking a new vehicle.

This means that the person is notified either inconspicuous writing or told by the employees selling the car. Any attempt to hide this information may lead to legal action. This also means that the dealership is not permitted to say they don’t know about the salvage title.

The history of vehicles and the titles granted are easily accessible to auto dealerships, and this means they are held accountable for detailing that a salvage title was issued for a car. There is a duty of care held to the company for disclosing the salvage title to the customer. Many businesses that sell vehicles may attempt to hide these matters through various means. However, if the car works and there are no issues, they may get away with these practices. It is when the driver is harmed due to defects or previously damaged cars that litigation could occur. Also, the fact that if you paid normal retail for the car, in reality, it is worth considerably less. How much? No one really knows how to put a value on a ‘written off’ car. You also need to consider that some car insurance companies will not offer comprehensive cover on a previous write-off, along with the fact that at time of future sale, you will need to disclose this fact, and a trade-in may be impossible.

Common Problems With A Private Seller

The most common problems with buying vehicles privately include:

• ‘buying a lemon’, ie a faulty car
• being misled about a vehicle’s make, price, quality or performance
• the seller still owing money to a finance company, in which case your vehicle may be repossessed.
• buying a car that has WOVR (Written Off Vehicle Registry) entry, due to being a repairable write off (accident/flood/hail damage)

What To Do If You Have A Problem

Contact the seller and explain the problem before you do anything else. Always talk to the seller first. If they disagree or refuse to deal with the issue, get a report from a mechanic or inspection service like German Precision.

You should contact the seller yourself – or have someone else do it for you – if you have bought a vehicle and:

• were misled into doing so, either by false advertising or something the seller has said
• the vehicle is faulty or unsafe
• you find out there is money owing on the vehicle.

Often by contacting the private seller, you can work out an arrangement between the two of you. This might include:

• some kind of refund
• the seller paying for mechanical work
• an alternative arrangement.

It’s important that you don’t give up without trying. Note however there is no guarantee or obligation from a private seller to do anything. Once you have paid and the car has changed hands, it is all up to you and the seller bears no further liability.

Then How Do You Avoid These Situations?

Do Your Research

It’s important to get as much information as you can about the condition of the car before you buy it. Ask the seller to show pictures of the car from different angles. You can also video call them so you can actually see the real condition before paying anything.

Get It Inspected By A Professional

If you’re unsure, hire a professional like German Precision to help you.

When buying something big like a new car, have it professionally inspected. A pre-purchase car inspection would cost you $250 to $350, and it’s worth every penny.

If you are looking for a professional pre-purchase car inspector in Melbourne, do not hesitate to contact German Precision or Prepurchase Check today!

sources: theaustralian.com.au, caradvice.com.au, hg.org, consumerprotection.govt.nz