The time you spend test driving any used car you are interested in buying is important for gathering the most information possible to make the right decision on your purchase.
There are a few things you need to remember to do during this test drive. You might not get another chance to gather information on the vehicle afterwards before having to make an offer on the vehicle in question:
Look under the car for leaks
One of the biggest signs of a severe mechanical problem is leaking fluids underneath a vehicle.
Pay attention to the area of the ground on which the vehicle was parked. If you notice any puddles, you should be wary of mechanical issues.
Check along the sides for body damage
It's not always easy to tell that a vehicle has been through a severe accident if it has received high quality body work. However, it's important to find out if there has been a severe accident in the vehicle's history.
An accident that caused extensive body damage could lead to permanent mechanical issues. It might also leave shards of glass and other debris within the vehicle that could make mechanical components more likely to experience problems.
One good way to see if there has been any body damage is to look down the vehicle's sides while standing in front of our behind the vehicle. Ripples or irregularities along the sides of the vehicle could indicate that the vehicle has received body work after a severe accident.
Try the dashboard controls
A test drive gives you a good opportunity to check and see if all the dashboard controls are working. While dashboard controls might not be as important as whether or not the vehicle runs and shifts gears properly, knowing how they function could help you evaluate the car in comparison to other options.
In particular, check the air conditioning and heating system while you test drive to see how comfortable you'll be in the vehicle throughout the year even during temperature extremes.
Check under the hood after test driving
A car with mechanical problems is likely to be excessively hot after running. This makes it a good idea to ask to check under the hood briefly after your test drive to see how the engine looks.
You should be listening for unusual noises when you look under the hood. In addition to overheating, unusual hissing and knocking sounds after the car has been running could also indicate mechanical damage.