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What Should I Look out for on a Used Car and Why Should I Take It for a Test Drive?

Used Car

Before buying a car you should always take it out for a test drive beforehand. This is even more important when you’re buying a used car as taking the car out on the road will give you an insight in to how it has been treated by its previous owners.

Here at Alan Day Volkswagen we are committed to helping our customers in every way possible when it comes to buying a car so we’ve gone through the most important things to check when test driving a used car.

Our top tips include checking the car’s exterior and interior as well as testing the engine, steering, clutch, brakes and suspension.

Checking the Exterior of a Used Car

Test Drive

Starting with the outside of the car may sound obvious but this is the area that you will need to spend the most time checking. You want to be looking out for telltale signs of a hard life such as body damage like scratches and dents. Keep an eye out for uneven gaps between the panels too, this could mean poor repairs from a previous, and potentially serious, accident.

Looking at the paintwork of the car will tell you a lot. You should be able to see an even colour spread across the car’s body, if you can see slightly different colours in the paintwork between body panels then that’s a big sign the car has undergone bodywork repair and therefore has had an accident in the past. You should also keep an eye out for bubbling in the paintwork as this can be a sign of an underlying rust problem.

The next thing you will want to do is check the lights and indicators to make sure they are all working properly. Check to see if all of the light settings are in working order (e.g. full-beam, dipped, parking lights) and make sure the indicators are flashing visibly.

Checking the tyres is one of the most important things you can do here, after all they are the only thing separating you from the road! Check to see if they have enough tread and that they aren’t feathering around the edges. In case you’re not already aware the minimum required tread is 1.6mm.

Checking the Interior of a Used Car

When looking inside the car you should always make sure the mileage matches up with the wear and tear of the car. For instance if the cars odometer is displaying low miles but the steering wheel or gear-knob has been smoothed over from excessive use then your alarm bells should start to go off. Other places you should look for signs of wear are in the fabrics scattered around the cabin. If the seats are stained or torn and the floor mats are frayed then this is a clear sign that the car has had a long life.

Sitting in the driver’s seat before buying and test driving a used car is essential for obvious reasons – the main one being that it is the place you will spend most of your time. Once you’re sat in the driver’s seat make sure the seat belts are pulling and retracting easily and that the steering wheel and seat is adjustable so you can get yourself in to your preferred driving position.

Next up check that all of the interior equipment is working as it should do, such as the central locking, interior lighting, stereo, electric windows and mirrors, and sat-nav. Also if the car has steering wheel controls don’t forget to test them out. Check the car’s ventilation too, be sure that it blows both hot and cold air and if the car has air-con make sure that is working effectively.

Finally test the back seats out and look in the boot of the car. Make sure the seat-folding mechanisms are working ok and look for a spare wheel (usually found in the boot or underneath the car) and if there is a spare wheel check it’s condition.

Once all of these checks have been made and you’re happy with the car, you are ready to take it out on the road for a test drive!

Contact Us

If you’d like to take one of our used Volkswagen cars out for the test drive then you can arrange an appointment using our online enquiry form here.

Added: 06 April 2018

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