Test drining a used car prior to buying is as important as VIN check. The first rule to remember: Never test drive used cars before inspecting them. The first reason is your safety. Test driving involves a highway test at 60-70mph. Don’t do that until you make sure the car is not a clunker. Second, used car inspection is done with cool engine, preferably when the car was sitting overnight. Potential problems are easier to reveal when you start a cold engine.
Further on, we assume that you have inspected the car and will focus on test-driving.
Don’t compromise, be persistent. You are the customer, you set the rules. Don’t be shy, do and test all that you feel necessary during the test drive. You are going to drive it at least twice a day. Remember, it is you who is making the deal. However, DON’T BE RUDE! Treat salespeople well and their attitude will be better. If the seller refuses to provide what you reasonably ask for during test-driving, walk away. Your opinion is more important. Don’t be afraid to say NO and walk away with something makes you feel not safe, uncomfortable or alerted during the test drive, or if you feel that the seller is trying to conceal something. For some people the car is a second home. Don’t compromise your and your family’s safety and comfort.
If you are planning to share the car with somebody else (e.g, your spouse), come to test-drive together. But don’t bring along your kids, friends or anyone else who can distract you while test-driving. However, brining kids’ seats to see how they fit is a wise idea
Take a recorder with you. You’ll have to put down all important things or faults you notice during test driving and ask a trusted mechanic to check them later. Don’t rely upon your memory, it’s not the same as forgetting to buy coffee in a supermarket.
Don’t put on strong perfume. You’ll need your nose to sniff other things, literally.
Define the driving route in advance, the salesperson may have to notify the manager at the dealership before you head out. Don’t follow the route offered by the seller. He knows where the car performs best and where fails. But you want to know the whole truth about the car’s behavior in different conditions and environments, and, particularly, in the environments that you typically drive at (way from home to work). If you usually drive in mountain area, test drive in similar area. Include in your route a highway with an on-ramp to check hoe the car climbs, smaller streets and a parking lot. Ask for at least half-an-hour test driving time. Your driving route should include both right and left turns.