What to Look for on a Used Car Test Drive

2017 Honda Accord Hybrid with driver

After you've decided which used car models interest you the most and have done some research, taking a test drive is one of the most important steps in the process of buying a used car. A test drive is more than just a free couple of minutes in the car of your choice. It’s the perfect time to decide whether or not the car is right for you. Here’s what to look for on a used car test drive — summed up in the following five factors.

Look for: Comfort

The majority of people buying cars will end up spending a lot of time in them. Whether you’ve got a lengthy commute to and from work, or you’re chauffeuring your kids to extracurricular activities, you want a car that meets your comfort requirements. Being uncomfortable in the car isn’t just annoying, but dangerous. It can distract you from where your attention is needed most when you’re driving. Make sure you play with the mirrors and seats to ensure that you can adjust them to the correct positions.

Look for: Visibility

The more cars you test drive, the more you’ll realize that some have such terrible visibility that it could become a safety issue. Check the visibility both while the car is parked and when you’re driving, to determine how big the blind spots are and where they’re positioned, and test any blind spot-reducing features the car might have.

Listen for: Noise

Noise might not be a deciding factor in whether or not you buy a particular car, but it’s definitely one of the things you should check for on a used car test drive since it can contribute to your comfort level when you’re driving. A noisy ride can be bothersome and distracting when you should be focusing on the road and can contribute to fatigue.

Evaluate for: Vehicle size

Make sure you’re comfortable with the size of the vehicle you test drive. One way to test out your comfort level with a car’s size is to try parking it. Test out how it feels to pull into a parking spot and back out of one, and how easy it is to parallel park the car. You’ll quickly get a feel for the size of the car and where your comfort level lies.

Get a feel for Handling

Take note of how well the car handles as you drive it. How well does it negotiate turns, curves, and different road surfaces? Pay attention to how quickly the car accelerates and how the brakes work, too. The best advice for understanding how the car handles is to test drive it in conditions similar to those you typically encounter. For example, if you drive on highways daily, you should test drive cars on the highway to understand how the car accelerates. 

When it comes time for you to test drive some used cars, make sure you follow these tips. Understanding what to look for when test driving cars can help you make an informed decision when you’re ready to purchase your next vehicle.