Cars parked in a parking lot

What Should I Watch for on a Test Drive?

Things to Look for When Test Driving a Vehicle

Shopping for a vehicle? Got some options narrowed down? Test drives are helpful for drivers to determine whether or not a certain car is right for them. After all, vehicles are big investments, so you should be confident and happy with your choice. Don’t know what you should be looking for in your next vehicle? Here are some things you should watch for on a test drive.

Examine the Vehicle’s Exterior

While pre-owned vehicles will have some wear and tear, it’s important to look for anything that could indicate excessive wear and tear. On the body, look for missing paint, rust, cracks, and dents. On the windshield and windows, look for any cracks or nicks. Before driving, test the brake lights and turn signals. Also, check the tires to see if they look worn or have uneven wear.

Listen to the Vehicle While Idle and Check Interior Features

Before driving off, it’s a good idea to let the vehicle sit idle for a few minutes so you can listen for any strange noises, like rattling, whining, or clicking. In the meantime, examine the seats and make sure they are comfortable. Check interior features, like the radio, heating, air conditioning, and power windows to make sure that everything functions properly. Additionally, check the dashboard to see that the temperature levels are normal and there are no warning lights.

Car driving with a happy passengers hand out of the window

Take the Car Out for a Drive in the City and on the Highway

If everything looks good so far, it’s time to take the car out for a drive in the city and on the highway. In the city, pay attention to how the brakes feel when you are slowing down and at a complete stop. Make sure that you can take turns easily and pay attention to abnormal resistance. Also, listen for strange noises coming from the brakes and listen carefully for grinding or squeaking when driving at low speeds. We highly recommended keeping the radio off the entire time you are on the road since some noises are subtle.

Once you take the vehicle on the highway, make sure the car accelerates well and shifts smoothly. Make sure the vehicle doesn’t pull left or right. Find the car’s blind spots and carefully change lanes to see how it handles steering at high speeds. Like in the city, keep the radio off so you can listen for any squeaking, whining, or rattling.

[ READ MORE: Tips for Choosing the Right Vehicle ]

Shopping for an affordable and reliable vehicle? Browse our current pre-owned vehicle inventory online! Interested in one of our vehicles? Schedule a test drive with U.S. Auto Sales! If you have any questions and would like to learn about benefits included with vehicles purchased from us, contact us here and we will be happy to help!