How and what to look for during a test drive - from personal experience about 80% don't have a clue. Do You?
Being routinely faced with same type chores day after day in any business it's safe to say we all develop a pattern of steps that become more and more fine tuned as time pass , Thinking back in time it now feels like having been on a trillion test drives for purchase or customer trade in value. If you like to follow in my footsteps, here are just a few basic pointers that became habit to look for during a test drive.
* Start the test drive slowly - feel and count the shift changes - is there any slipping - any hesitation - any vibrations
* Drive long enough to get the engine warm as most indicator lights ( indicating engine trouble ) won't glow until the engine is thoroughly warmed up
If vehicle you are test driving is considered for purchase you absolutely must include a highway test drive! if you don't, here are some things you could experience that you would not have noticed just driving the car around the local area.
* When you accelerate on the on-ramp - look in rear view mirror for smoke
* How is your shoulder check vision when merging onto the hwy
* how is your vision changing lanes
* Is there excessive wind noise from the windows
* Is there a whirring sound from the tires
* Is there a lag between stepping on the gas and accelerating
* Does the engine strain at high speeds
* At 60mph/100kmh hit the brake - does it pulsate - does it pull left or right - does the body of the car swerve
* Is the acceleration satisfactory when passing
* Is the cruise control in working order
* Have the radio turned off
* if a salesman comes along for the ride and yaps away, tell him to shut it and concentrate only on the test drive
If upon completion off test drive vehicle is still of interest, check all power options - windows - seats - heated seats - CD - keyless entry - roof - etc etc.
Many,,, and I will say way " TO MANY " consumers buy a car without having driven the vehicle on the highway or not having checked all power options, a large percentage of these buyers will return to the dealership within 48 hrs with some problems related to the above questions.
You may have heard the expression " a car feels tight " when you test drive a car that feels like being part of you having passed every test then the vehicle is tight " remember " the dealer or your friends cannot tell you that a car handles the way you like, you have to find that answer on your own.
# 1 Factor on Check List Prior to Test Drive
When I suggested to drive long enough to potentially trigger an engine warning indicator light, keep in mind that a check engine light can easily be cleared by the seller.
When you turn the key, but before you start the engine, the instrument panel will light up and you should see all available indicators. One of them should be "Check Engine", "Service Engine Soon", a picture of an engine, or some equivalent. If you see other indicators but not this one, then it either does not exist (unlikely in any car made in the last 25-30 years), or it has been disconnected. " memorize this check list or print a copy to take along for the ride "
For more details on how to safeguard against this, navigate to mechanic
The Glove Box
Some dealers don't remove anything from the glove box, in such case if you are a meticulous person you may find a wealth of information about the previous owner along with manual and car service repairs etc etc. Consider yourself not being rude dialing through this stuff, it may help seal the sale or walk away from the deal.
Some dealers policy is to have all used inventory with empty clean glove boxes and will have on file manual or service records if there were any at time of trade-in or auction purchase, positive records will be used as a closing tool, negative records if any goes directly into the garbage bin.
It's more than fair a dealer will not disclose a name or phone # with a car that has been traded-in, but if you ask to view the manual to look up some safety features or or exact gas consumption etc etc, in many cases you may find written the previous owners name address or other details should you wish to make contact to get answers why car was traded or sold.
Summary,,, Through the years with experience gained I used the Glove Box on many occasions to seal a deal, example, wow, look at this, oil change records up to date and minor repairs only, all negative info such as in for service for nasty repairs or recalls for same type problems were removed. If the vehicle was a clean unit with no problems and only the manual available with owners name inside I would say,,, I can't disclose the previous owner, but I can't stop you having found it yourself if you want to make contact, knowing only positive results could occur.
Dip Stick Idiots
Don't try to look like you're in the know by checking the oil stick at any reputable dealership looking for a black or thick oil, or a putrid rotten cheese smell. Its a priority to have done a complete inspection of any vehicle incl an oil change prior to vehicle being for sale,,, buying privately is another matter.
Checking for an oil change sticker especially if buying from a private party is a very valid point, posted stickers if there are any will be located at corner windshield or inside driver door frame. If you find one at a dealership with their logo it will give you a good idea how long vehicle has been in inventory, if you find one that is dated 3 months and salesperson when asked answers about 3 weeks you're dealing with a shifty salesman.
Summary,,, I loved dealing with dip stick sniffers that would also run their fingers around inside the tailpipe and then crawl under car to check for wetness oil leaks. These are steps that a reputable dealer will have covered,,, but I will mention again buying privately or a small buy here pay here type dealer becomes another matter.
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