You’ve spotted the car of your dreams, did the research and now all that’s left to do is to test drive it. Whether you’re buying privately or from a dealer, there specific things that you need to take note of when test driving, says Jeff Osborne, Head of Automotive for Gumtree SA.


1. Take your time

Don’t rush it or feel pressured for time by the seller or dealer. “If you’re feeling uneasy about the transaction, you are able to walk away”, says Osborne.


2. Inspect it first

Do a thorough inspection of the car, inside and out. Look at the condition of the bodywork for repair or rust, cracked or faded light lenses, signs of wear on the interior carpets and upholstery, check the boot, wheels and tyres, and pop the hood to look at the engine. If you know absolutely nothing about cars – a dirty, greasy engine bay should tell you the car has not been lovingly cared for and/or maintained.


3. Drive a familiar route

The best advice is to drive on different types of road surfaces and at varying speeds. Osborne notes that a fool-proof system is to drive a road you know well enough – you’re familiar with the bumps and irregularities in the road, stops and intersections, so you’re able to compare the old to the new.


4. Vibrations and sounds

Turn off the sound system and focus all your attention on picking up mechanical noises and vibrations emanating from the suspension, brakes and steering. At parking speeds, turn the steering wheel fully from one side to the other so that you can identify any knocking from the column or CV joints.


5. Check all the auxiliaries

Make sure the sound system is in good order, the CD pops in and out as it should, the Bluetooth and USB ports are functional and the air-con does its intended job.


6. Back at base

Post test drive, inspect the car again. Note any defects inside and out and if these need fixing, negotiate a discount. Put in writing everything you want to be attended to and check that it has been done before taking final delivery.


Osborne confirms that test driving a car is probably one of the most important factors to consider when wanting to purchase a new vehicle. “Keep in mind that there are plenty of fish in the sea, especially with more than 80 000 live automotive ads on Gumtree at any given time”, ends Osborne.

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