How to Test Drive a Vehicle Before Buying
How To Test Drive A Vehicle For Lyft Or Uber
You should test drive any vehicle you’re interested in buying. This is especially true if you’re going to be driving Lyft or Uber.
Only by using the car, albeit briefly, can you accurately judge whether it is appropriate for your needs and offers good value for money.
If you know how to make the most of the test drive, you can gather a lot of useful information regarding the quality and suitability of the vehicle. These five tips will enable you to make an informed and reasoned decision to get the best deal possible.
1. Starting The Engine
Before entering the vehicle, ensure the engine is cold. Some sellers will warm the engine up by running it for a while before you arrive to mask any ignition issues it may have, so you need to test it from cold. You can normally do this simply by resting your hand on the hood.
If it’s warm, arrange to come back at a different time and request that the seller doesn’t warm the engine up first. A reasonable and trustworthy seller will have no issue with the request if you explain your reasoning clearly.
Once you’re satisfied it’s starting from cold, turn the key and listen to the sound the engine makes. Any coughing, sputtering or other obviously unusual noises emanating from the engine should be investigated more closely.
2. Changing gears
Pay close attention to the biting point as you move off. If it is unusually high or low, there may be a current or impending issue with the clutch. As you move through the gears, feel for how the car reacts. The action should be smooth and easy. If the gear stick or clutch feels clunky or stiff, there may be cause for concern.
When planning your route, include roads that will provide plenty of opportunities to stop and start, as well as to move up through the range of gears. Search out traffic jams to give the clutch a thorough test and then find a long straight road to build up some speed.
While you’re testing out the higher gears, you can also check the tracking. When the road is clear and straight and you judge it safe to do so, briefly let go of the steering wheel to ensure the car doesn’t drift to either side.
On a winding stretch of road, assess the responsiveness of the steering. Power-assisted steering wheels are designed to react to the lightest of touches so you shouldn’t feel much, if any, resistance as you corner. You should also be aware of any significant vibrations or feedback in the steering wheel as it could be symptomatic of a larger issue.
Insist on having the radio off during the test drive. If the seller is keen to have it on, it’s possible they’re trying to mask strange sounds emanating from the vehicle they’re trying to sell. Eliminate any unnecessary sounds so that you can listen purely to the noise of the car. The sound of an unhealthy engine is often quite noticeable to experienced drivers, so trust your instincts.
As you stop at traffic lights, open your window so you can better gauge the sound of the engine when idle and as you pull away. Periods of transition, such as when you’re accelerating, slowing down, or changing gears is often when engine sounds are the most revealing. The negotiation of speed bumps and rough surfaces can also be a great time to pay particular attention to the noise the vehicle makes.
The performance of a vehicle’s brakes is integral to the safety of all road users. Every time you slow down or stop, judge the efficacy and responsiveness of the brakes. At an appropriate and safe juncture, inform the seller that you’re going to perform an emergency stop. The vehicle must come to a complete halt not only quickly but safely. Make sure it doesn’t swerve to either side under hard braking and that you have full control of the vehicle at all times. If you can find a steep hill, test the strength of the handbrake. It should be able to hold the weight of the vehicle at any gradient public roads have to offer.
To find your perfect vehicle and get the best deal, you need to make efficient use of your test drive. Research the local area, plan your route and create a checklist of things you want to assess. By preparing your test drive in advance, you can arm yourself with a wealth of information from which to make an informed and intelligent decision regarding the vehicle you’re interested in buying.
Some Red Flags to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Car
One of the main benefits of purchasing a brand new car is that you know exactly what you are going to get. However, when it comes to purchasing a pre-owned or used vehicle you do not get to
enjoy this same luxury. As such, it is a good idea to remain vigilant and inquisitive when hunting for a used car. Though it can be tough to know every little detail about a car that you would like to buy, there are some potential red flags that you should watch out for, such as:
1. No (or Very Few) Pictures
Nowadays, most used car searches will begin on the internet. Prospective sellers will generally upload pictures, pricing, and a thorough description of the vehicle. If you find a listing that doesn’t have any pictures or has very few pictures, it may give you cause for concern. It is very easy to take pictures on a cellphone, so there is potentially some hidden reason why the seller has opted not to include images with their listing. Though a lack of pictures shouldn’t be a deal breaker, it is certainly to take into consideration moving forward.
2. Strange Pricing
The value of just about every vehicle on the road is pretty readily available to be looked up online nowadays. As such, if you come across a vehicle online that is priced either way too high or too low without any explanation you should consider it to be a red flag. If the pricing is too high, the seller may be trying to sell to an unwitting buyer – so you should tread carefully.
If the pricing is too low, you will need to ask the seller for more details on the vehicle to ascertain why the pricing is so low. If the reasoning is innocuous then don’t worry about it too much, but if there doesn’t seem to be a reason they may be trying to cover something up.
3. Lack of Records or Hidden Issues
Though it may be reasonable to expect a vehicle that has been on the road for a couple of decades to not come with its maintenance records, a car that is just a few years old should have all of the info you need. If the seller is unwilling to provide this information to you or is trying to hide potential issues, you should not be afraid to simply walk away from the deal.
As a driver, the last thing that you want to deal with is a faulty vehicle – especially one that you just paid thousands of dollars for. By taking your time with the search and watching out for these red flags, you will find yourself in a great pre-owned vehicle before long.