5-Point Checklist for Test Driving a Vehicle

Don’t worry, because a five point turn is not on the checklist of things to do when test-driving a vehicle. Buying a new or used vehicle can be stressful for people because everyone wants the best possible car of their choice, in the best possible condition, and all within their seemingly-unrealistic budget. This, unfortunately, narrows the list a bit, however, there are smart ways to test out a vehicle in order to ensure you are at least buying a quality asset that is safe and suits your driving needs.

Continue reading to learn five things to look for when you are test driving a car or truck, so that you may better negotiate a deal and make better purchasing decisions.

1. Exterior Appearance

The first place you want to inspect is the exterior of the car or truck. How’s the condition of the paint? Is it shipped, scraped, or faded? What about the condition of the body? Are there dents and scratches on the bumper, fender, or doors? Are there cracks in the windshield? All of these aspects can be used against a seller in the negotiations to get a fairer price.

2. Interior Appearance and Amenities

Next, open the doors and take a look inside. Are the doors squeaky or difficult to open? Do they feel heavy or loose? What about the interior fabric? Is it in good condition? Are there stains, burn holes, ripped carpet, or other similar damages? Is the roof fabric loose and droopy? Are the dashboards in good condition? Is there a spare tire and jack?

3. Under the Hood

Always look is under the hood of the vehicle. Check to see that the engine bay is clean and damage-free. Next, look at the condition of the battery, see that all the proper caps are in place, and inquire whether or not it takes premium or unleaded fuel. Overall, use your common sense to inspect everything under the hood with a glance, and decide if it looks legitimate. If you have concerns about what you see, then you might want to have the vehicle inspected by a licensed mechanic before making any negotiations with the seller.

4. Drivability

Now it’s time to actually see how the car drives. See how the steering wheel turns. Does it pull to the left or right? Take note of how the car feels in drive mode. Is it a smooth ride? Does it feel bumpy? Are the brakes squeaky? Does it take a long time to come to a complete stop? Does the car feel heavy or out of line? All of this can be identifiers of common vehicular maintenance and repair issues. Again, these faults can be used as a negotiations tactic when deciding on a final price.

5. Interior Features

Before getting out of the vehicle and ending your test drive, be sure to check all the amenities and features inside and see that they all work properly. Check the automatic windows, radio, navigation, air vents, sun roof, mirrors, lights, and more. Also take note of the number of cup holders, storage, seating, and more to match these features with the ones on your wish-list.