Things To Look For While Test Driving A Used Car

Shopping for a used car can either be exciting or stressful. A lot depends on choosing the right used car dealer, but also on taking a thorough test drive of the vehicle. It's hard to diagnose any issues on a short test drive around the block, so today we've put together a list of things to look for while test driving a used car.

1. Fluids & Moisture

Properly maintaining fluid levels in your vehicle is a vital part of car ownership, yet many people neglect this crucial bit of maintenance. Regularly filling and changing oil, flushing brake and transmission fluid, and making sure coolant is in good shape will all affect both the performance and lifespan of your vehicle. But how can you tell if fluids have been maintained when test driving a vehicle?

We recommend popping the hood both before and after your test drive. A poorly maintained engine will sometimes leak oil or other fluids, giving the engine a "humid" look or even leaving burned-up stains on the engine itself. It's good to check before and after driving, because the previous owner could have cleaned the engine. You'll also want to check the oil. Is it low? Is it pitch black and thickened? Oil that has begun to burn could be a sign of future problems in the engine. Not changing oil is the source of many preventable engine problems.

2. Ride Quality

Ride quality is one of the most important aspects of a used car that you should consider, yet it often doesn't get properly tested. If you think about test drives you've taken in the past, did you try it in various driving conditions? Go over any speed bumps? Sometimes with heavier vehicles you'll notice that they seem to "bottom out" when going over speed bumps. Suspension feel is an important thing to consider in the used vehicle you test drive, as it's likely to play a big role in your overall enjoyment owning the car.

You'll also want to listen for any noise and pay attention to resistance when making turns, braking, or changing gears. These could be signs of a repair being needed in the near future, and you should be sure to ask the dealer or owner about those noises or rough feelings when turning. While certain noises might be easily correctable or not of real concern, others can mean significant expense.

3. Condition of Interior

Look: You spend a lot of time in your car. While performance and reliability are major factors in a good ownership experience, interior comfort and quality really matter in the long run. Certain leather interiors have a tendency to crack or tear over time, so you'll want to make sure the leather is in good condition. And remember that with regard to overall interior condition, the used vehicle you're test driving should be in the best shape it will ever be. Purchasing a used vehicle with an interior in poor condition is likely to lead to future problems. You will want to test all knobs and buttons, adjust the air vents, check AC and heat, and make sure everything operates as intended. Not doing so would be sort of like renting an apartment without testing the hot water. Everything might look good, but be inconvenient in everyday use.

4. Test Drive the Dealer

This is another crucial consideration that is often left out by folks buying a used vehicle. While you should absolutely be focused on examining the quality and value of your potential purchase, don't forget to test drive the dealer as well. Could you see yourself having a continuing relationship with them? Are they answering your questions or just trying to complete the sale? Do they offer any special perks to buying a used vehicle from them? These are all important considerations to take into account, and finding the right used car dealer in your area will have a very positive effect on your used car buying experience.

At Deery of Iowa City, we have a wide selection of used vehicles, and you can contact us any time with questions that come up as you search for a used car. Below you'll find our inventory, as well as financing and trade-in information. We look forward to hearing from you, and to assisting you to the best of our ability.


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