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Test Drivinga Used Car? An Essential Guide to Making You Don't Get Buyers Regret.

Buying a car is a big life decision. Knowing what to look for when test driving a vehicle is exceptionally tricky for anybody who does not have experience in the motor industry. Luckily, we do. That is why we have collated the best tips to help you decide whether the car you are considering is worth the price tag attached.

There are four stages to buying a used car –before you book the test drive before you test drive, the test drive, and after the test drive. Each stage plays an equally important part in the buying process, ensuring that you are the most informed you possible can be.

Before you book your test drive:

Budget – Defining your budget should always be the first step when you intend to buy yourself a new car. It is important to know whether you can trade in your cartrade in your car, or if you need finance.

What do you value? – Writing down a few things that you would enjoyin your future car can be helpful. Do you want Bluetoothorheated seats? Would you prefer a carwith excellent fuel economyand a high ANCAP Safety Rating? Creating a values list to include these filters when searching is crucial.

Research – Ensure that you have 2-3 cars that you would be more than happy to own. They could be different year models, package options, brands, oreven builds. It is important to have variety to ensureyou don't rush into a decision.It’s also important to note that buying from a trusted used car dealer can ensure that you have a car that is mechanically sound.

Try (multiple) before you buy! – Don't decide on a new car after only test driving one. Try to book a few test drives on the same day so that you can compare the different cars while they're fresh in your mind.

Do the most - See what the maximum amount of time you can test drive the car for is… and do it!

Bring a friend – Bring along a friend! (or a family member!) Bringing someone along allows you to bounce ideas and thoughts off each other. They might also notice something that you don't!

Before you test drive:

Ask questions – The car owner/salesperson should know everything about the car. To give you the most potent insight into the vehicle you might be buying, make sure to ask the following questions:

  • When does the car registration run out?
  • Why was it sold?
  • Are the cars' service records available?
  • Has the vehicle ever been involved in an accident?
  • The previous owner (their age and gender can indicate whether the car has been well looked after).
  • Is there any warranty? (only applicable if buying from a car yard)

Look around the outside of the vehicle to ensure that there is no damage that you could accidentally be held liable for before even getting in.

Check for scratches on the exterior paint and the wheels (this could help you barter if you go ahead with the purchase!)

Look for fluid leaks. Fluid leaks can indicate expensive problems with cars. Quick tip: (clear = air conditioning, black = oil, green = coolant)

Check the VIN Vehicle Identification Number on the car is the same as in the service books and registration papers. You can typically find this inside the door or on the engine (or you can ask the seller).

Test the lights and blinkers. Something so simple that is so easy to miss!

Connect your Bluetooth. Not just so you can listen to your music while driving your potential new car, but to check the entertainment system works. Do not forget to check that the air conditioning works too!

How is the interior? Take photos of any blemishes, any colourways you are unhappy with, etc. this could significantly influence your final decision.

During the Test Drive

  • Firstly, ensure that the car turns on and runs smoothly.
  • Where there’s smoke… - While the engine is running, ensure that no abnormal smoke is coming out of the exhaust. Smoke can be white, blue, or black, indicating a different mechanical problem.
  • How does the car feel – Test how the car feels in all scenarios. When you go over speed humps and small potholes, on the motorway, going around a roundabout.
  • Is the car fast enough? We're not suggesting that you try and race any P-platers on your test drive (we'd actually advise against that!), but is the car's acceleration good enough to get you out of sticky situations? Another thing – If the vehicle is in overdrive to get up to the speed of the motorway, stay clear.
  • Brake check! After driving around for 5-10 minutes (and when it's safe to do so), jump on the brakes. Hard. Does the car come to a quick stop? Brakes are the most critical part of every car, so they must be in good working order. (If they aren't, have a look to see if the brake pads are worn out. Click here to see how)
  • Turn the radio off and listen out for any abnormalities.

After The Test Drive

  • How was it? It is important to note how happy you were with the actual drive before considering things such as mechanical and cosmetic issues.
  • How does it compare? If you decide that it could be your next vehicle, you should move on to the next step.
  • REVS Check – If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, you must get a REVS Check. Costing less than $10, you will have verified access to the car's legitimacy. The check will help you to know: has the vehicle been written off, is it stolen, does it have a major recall, and verification of the colour, model and make of the car – (as well as the VIN)
  • Finally, the offer – ask the seller what the lowest possible price isthat they can do, then offer a fraction below that figure.You and the seller willattempt to get the best deal, so make sure you prepare.

If you need help deciding on a car, help with finance, or if you’re looking to sell your vehicle, all can be done through SD Motors.Prior to being sold, each SD Motors vehicle goes through a 300-point inspection by professional technicians. The dealership already has many verified reviews after only being open for less than 6 months. Get in contact or search their stock today.