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Tips for test driving a used car

by Approved Garages | 04 Aug 2016

When looking to buy a used car, it goes without saying that a complete and thorough test drive is mandatory. You need to make sure you enjoy driving the car, feel totally comfortable and that the car is exactly what you are looking for.

Approved Garages have detailed below, exactly what you should check when you decide to test drive a used vehicle – from the driving experience, right through to checking the correct documentation.




Exterior and Interior
  • Look for scratches, dents and chips
  • Are the panels all fitted in perfectly?
  • Check for windscreen chips
  • Check the tyre tread
  • Check the seating and seams
  • Check that all electrics are working and try the air conditioning
  • Is the boot sufficient?
  • Take any child car seats and check that they fit
Driving the vehicle:
  • Drive on several types of roads, and if possible, the motorway too
  • Use the headlights, windscreen wipers, radio and any other electrics you would do if you were driving the car as your own
  • Check the glovebox compartment
  • Park the vehicle to get a feel for the car when parking
  • Pull our engine oil dipstick, wipe clean to check oil level
  • Watch for excessive exhaust smoke and listen for any unusual noises
  • Check the engine coolant and brake fluid levels, plus the battery (the terminals should be rust-free and clear of dust and debris)
Steering and Brakes:
  • Check that you don’t feel vibrations from the steering, listen for squeals or juddering noises
  • It should be responsive
  • The brakes should stop the car in a straight line
  • Use the handbrake on a hill start – there should be no rolling forward or back
Clutch and Gears:
  • Work through each gear in turn to check there are no horrible crunching noises
  • Is the biting point too high? This could indicate that the clutch has worn out
Personal safety before test driving a used vehicle:
  • Check with your insurance provider that you are covered to test drive this other vehicle, if you are not, arrange temporary cover.
  • Arrange to view the car at the home or work address of the car seller, and check that this matches the V5C registration certificate
  • Take a partner or friend with you, and exchange the money in person
  • Make sure you check the logbook for the car’s history, who owns it, and the MOT certificate and check the car’s history on the DVLA website to check over all of the spec

Are you looking for a garage to give your car the once over before selling it? Why not contact your local approved garage for a full vehicle check by a garage you can trust? Use our garage finder to search for your nearest approved garage.


Quick steps to selecting your Approved Garage…


Firstly, pop in your postcode or town


Select a garage near your location


Speak to a trusted mechanic, send an online enquiry or book online


Then, sit back in the knowledge that your vehicle is in safe hands