The ultimate checklist for buying a car: What to look for and how to test drive it the right way


Jade Poole from I Write Words


Buying a second-hand car comes with a lot of things you have to keep in mind, from the price, the seller and the car itself. This is how to test drive a car before you buy it to help you decide whether or not this will be a good purchase for you…

If you are in the market for a second-hand car or even a used one, you will need to test drive it before you buy it - which is common knowledge.

Test driving a car can give you the chance to evaluate the comfort and driveability of it, but it can also help you decide whether or not you should buy it.

Here’s how to make sure you test drive a car the right way…

1. Prepare for the test drive

Before you arrange the test drive, you need to do the following:


Find out as much as you can about the cars you are interested in test driving.

This will give you an idea of what you can expect when you drive the car.

Make a list of the cars you want to drive.

Make notes

Make a list of all the different things you would like your next car to have and take this with you when you test drive a car.

For example, do you want to car to have power steering, an aircon, an AUX cable or BAS brakes?

Test drive a lot of different cars

The trick is to try and test drive as many cars as you can on the same day.

This will allow you to notice any differences between models.

Aim to test drive a car for at least 30 minutes and take it on various roads such as highways and backroads.

2. Inspect the car before you drive it

Before you even get into the car to start driving it, you will need to inspect the car.

Here is what you need to look out for:

  1. Look at the car you want and decide if you like the style of it
  2. Walk around the car and check that the seams between the doors and body panels are even
  3. Check that the paint is vibrant and smooth
  4. Open all the doors and check the handles and windows work properly
  5. Open the boot and inspect the space for luggage
  6. Check that the spare wheel, car jack, wheel spanner are there
  7. Sit in the driver’s seat and check its comfort, where the pedals are, adjust the seat and make sure you are happy with the basic controls such as lights and the indicators and that they work
  8. Check if the steering wheel can be adjusted
  9. Check your visibility from this seat, you should have a clear view of your surroundings
  10. Sit in the backseat and make sure there is enough space and legroom
  11. Open the bonnet and check the oil dipstick, battery and fluid filler caps are easy to access

3. The test drive

The time has come - the final test drive.

You have done the checks and everything is in order.

Now to get behind the wheel and try this car out!

Make sure you pay attention to every detail in the car as you are driving. Here are a few things to keep in mind and look out for:

  1. When you start the car, make sure there are no strange sounds and it starts easily
  2. Make sure you listen to the engine and it is running smoothly
  3. Check the gear transmission and ensure that the gears change smoothly and it is easy to change gears
  4. Check is the car is powerful enough for you on a highway
  5. Check that the car brakes properly and there is no noise when braking
  6. Check that the steering wheel is responsive and there are no noises when turning the wheel
  7. Check the car’s handling, does it perform well around corners?
  8. Check how quiet the car is on the road

Make sure your car is insured

If you decide that this is the car you are looking for, the first thing you need to make sure of is that you are covered for accidents and damage.

Make sure you get comprehensive car insurance that is simple, easy and affordable with Oneplan (that’s us).

Bonus tip: bring a friend or family member with you when you go to check out a car you are wanting to buy. They might be able to pick up something you may have missed or hear something from the back of the car when you are driving.

It always helps to have a second opinion when test driving a car you want to buy.

Happy car-hunting!

Yours in uncomplicated car insurance,


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