Tips for Test Driving a Used Car

Tips for Test Driving a Used Car

Tips for Test Driving a Used Car

Advice from Dave Smith Nissan of Spokane, WA


One of the most important steps, when you buy a used car, is taking it out for a test drive. Whether you are considering a purchase from an independent dealer, or a new car dealer, a thorough test drive is when you can find out if a vehicle is just right for you. To maximize the value of your test drive evaluation, here are a few steps to take that will help you make a good, informed decision concerning whether to move forward with the sale.

Before You Test Drive a Used Car…

Before you consider test driving a particular car, you should make sure that it’s a vehicle that fits your car-buying budget! Our advice is to talk to the Finance Department at Dave Smith Nissan about how much you can afford to spend on a used car.

What should I look for during the test drive?

Bringing a trusted friend or family member along on the test drive isn’t a bad idea for many reasons, not the least of which is having another set of eyes and ears on board. Because they won’t be as emotionally invested in the car as you, they may see things more objectively.

First, start with a thorough inspection of the vehicle’s exterior. Look at the body panels to see if everything looks good. Look under the car for anything that’s hanging down, and look for drips of fluid under the vehicle. Also, take a look at the condition of the tires. If they don’t match or show wear, it’s not a total disqualifier, but you may want to budget for replacements.

Where should I drive the car?

If you’re considering buying a pre-owned car from a dealership, you’ll likely have to go there to take a test drive. However, some dealers are increasing their home delivery options, so you may be able to find one that’s willing to bring the car to your home. Contact Dave Smith Nissan for more information about this.

The location you choose to drive needs to have easy access to a variety of roads. While driving around a parking lot for a few minutes can tell you many things about a car, you’ll also want someplace where you can get up to highway speeds. Driving on a rough road is a great way to identify any noises and suspension issues.

Check out the interior features then hit the road

Once you’re in the car, you want to get comfortable by setting the seats, mirrors, and steering wheel into a good position. Make sure you can see what you need to see through the windshield, in the mirrors, and across the dash. You need to find a car that offers both visibility and comfort. Also, check out the heating and air conditioning system. Even if it’s cold outside, you’ll want to make sure the A/C works, and certainly the heater. Manually adjust the fan, making sure you don’t hear any noises. Use the dash controls to redirect the air to the floor, dash vents, and defroster to ensure all of the modes work.

OK, head out for the road part. Try and drive over different road surfaces and at different speeds. As you drive, pay attention to things! For example, make sure there are no warning lights appearing on the dashboard. Listen to the engine and transmission as you drive for funny noises. Apply the brakes and see if they feel normal, and judge how the steering wheel feels.

The Next Step

If your test drive goes well and it looks like you want the vehicle, you might want to get a pre-purchase inspection from an independent mechanic. A qualified mechanic will be able to identify issues you missed on the test drive, but they’ll also be able to take your checklist of problems and tell you how much each will cost to fix.

A big exception to this rule is if you are buying the car from a franchised new car dealership, such as Dave Smith Nissan.  This is a safer way to buy a used car because you will have a warranty and the reputation of the dealership to eliminate the risk of any unseen problems occurring and you being on the hook.

Dave Smith offers Certified Pre-Owned Nissan vehicles

If eliminating buying risk is an important thing for you, you should consider a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Nissan. CPO Nissan vehicles come with a stamp of approval because each goes through a 167 point inspection and each vehicle includes a comprehensive warranty package. Potential buyers are also able to view a Carfax Vehicle History Report.

Dave Smith Nissan of Spokane has a large variety of Certified Used Cars for you to choose from. You are invited to view their online inventory here.