Many families are forced to live on tight budgets. While this isn’t always the easiest experience, it can be made exponentially more difficult if someone’s car breaks down and needs to be replaced; with new cars averaging around $33,350, most people are forced to turn to the more practical — yet riskier — used car option.
Last year, there were around 40 million sales of used vehicles in the U.S., so you’re certainly not alone! The key to getting your money’s worth comes from due diligence during the test driving process. Let’s take a look at some test driving tips that can ensure your used ride isn’t a lemon.
Look And Listen
Before you even get behind the wheel, you should give the vehicle a thorough walk-around. Turn the car on, switch on the headlights and emergency flashers, and take your time making sure that these vital components are actually working. Glance under the car: do you see anything hanging down, or any fluids dripping? Check the tires for signs of wear.
Listen for any odd noises and note any exceptionally strong exhaust smells. More than 200 billion fasteners are used each year in the U.S., around 3,500 of which are in each car; if any have come loose or have fallen into the engine bay or its cylinders, you’ll hear it. Since such an accident can lead to catastrophic problems down the road, it’s absolutely worth the attention. Before driving off the lot, give the interior features the same consideration: do the heating and air conditioning systems work, are you noticing any moldy or mildewy smells, does the radio work, etc.
After you’ve given the car’s features a thorough examination, the test drive is fairly straightforward; if you like the way it drives and the way you feel behind the wheel, you should move onto the complete inspection. No matter how detail-oriented you are, there are a lot of things going on under that hood that you may not be aware of. By submitting the vehicle for an independent pre-purchase inspection, you can ensure that the fuel filter (designed to keep water, scale, rust, and dirt out of your fuel) is working, that there are no major computer issues, and that the overall health of the engine is up to snuff. If your seller will not submit to an independent pre-purchase inspection, you should walk away from the deal — regardless of how much you love the vehicle.
Whether you opt for one of the 50 different models of diesel engines or prefer standard gasoline models, the same steps need to be taken before you commit to the purchase of a used vehicle. By taking your time, truly examining the vehicle, and (most importantly) not rushing into a purchase, you can rest assured that your new used car is worth its price tag.