Doug's Credit Center Blog

Test driving a pre-owned vehicle


When buying a pre-owned vehicle we have no idea what the previous owner did or didn’t do to the vehicle. While going for a test drive before getting a car loan you should listen to the engine and start out driving slowly. Here’s a guide of what you should listen for:

  • Count how many times the engine shifts. Do you notice any stalling, hesitation, vibrations or skipping?
  • Let the engine warm up. If the warning indicator lights are going to come on, it is when the engine is warm.
    • Here is where I’m going to give you a heads up warning. A check engine light can be tampered with by the seller. What to look for to determine if the check engine light was tampered with. When you turn the key to the position before starting the engine, all the warning lights on the dash should light up. One light being the check engine light. If all the warning lights appear except that one, it may be been disconnected.

Test drive on the highway! This is a very important step that many people don’t do. How well will the engine perform at high speeds if you’re only going around the parking lot or through neighborhoods?

  • When accelerating look in your mirror for smoke
  • Do a shoulder check for blind spots. Can you merge into other lanes safely?
  • Do you hear excessive wind noise coming from the closed windows?
  • Is the vehicle lagging when you step on the gas?
  • Do you hear any unusual noise coming from the tires?
  • Is the engine straining at highway speeds?
  • Does the cruise control work properly?
  • Test the brakes at a high rate of speed (60MPH) do the brakes vibrate? Does the car pull to the left or right? Does the body of the car swerve?
  • When trying to pass a vehicle, does the vehicle accelerate properly?

Check all the power options, the sunroof, the keyless entry, the power windows, power seats, heated seats, heat, a/c, etc

Without taking the time to go on a proper test drive, many customers who buy a vehicle are back at the dealership complaining about something in the above mentioned. Do the right thing and take the time to properly test drive the vehicle.


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