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Readers Respond: What Are Your Test Drive Tips?

Responses: 10


It's my advice that you should never, ever test drive a used car before completing my used car inspection. It could unearth potential safety and mechanical problems that you wouldn’t want to discover at 65 mph on the highway. Also, this inspection could simply save you from wasting your time driving an obvious clunker. What tips do you share with friends who are inspecting used cars?

oil looks, leaks& level & previous owner

I always pull the dipstick and check the oil allevel, and does it look clean or dirty. do this before starting it to get an accurate reading. also, I ask the seller "how long has the vehiclebeen parked in this spot. that way you can look at the area under the vehicle to find out what fluids have leaked out since it was parked in that spot. I always ask to see any maintenance records, receipts from repairs& ask them for the contact info of the previous owner if possible. then I call them, and get as much info from them, as possible on the history of the vehicle. previous owners I contacted were always willing to help me out with this, find out if any major repairs like engine, tranny work, new brakes, exhaust,etc I.also ask them how often they drove it , daily driver?second vehicle?or did grandma just drive it to church on S did they put highway miles on it? or city miles? one previous owner even showed me pictures of the vehicle in smashed up condition, "1 pic is worth a 1,000 words
—Guest supertrucker


How about newer cars. Check the "Check Engine Light" and the "Air Bags Light" and finally the "ABS Light". Do they come on when key is right before start position? Do they all go out afterwards?
—Guest Was here

Check other fluid levels

I agree with everything that is written here but i think its also important to check other fluid levels besides oil level. Coolant, transmission fluid (automatic transmission), brake fluid, power steering fluid and washer fluid level should be checked as well as color and smell. These tips and more can be found on www.usedcarchecklist.net/inspection.

Do a Carfax report

I recently was helping a friend buy a Honda Accord. Everything looked great, but she wanted to be for sure. So we did a Carfax report. Ya it costs around $30 but the peace it gave on the purchase of the car was totally worth it.
—Guest Jeff C.

Check for rust

Check the following places for rust: * headlight rims * bottom of doors * lock mechanism * wheel wells (front and rear, difficult corners, especially at the shock mounts) * bottom of hatch * inside of rain gutter * bottom of windshield * around gas cap * blisters in the paint (rust from the inside) * under the floor mats A very comprehensive site about test drive tips is: http://www.test-drive-tips.com
—Guest AJ

One More Thing...

My Dad taught me a lot about buying used cars and he said that one of the most important things to check for is water in the exhaust system. If you stick your finger up into the tail pipe and find moisture, it could indicate serious problems like a cracked engine block. (It is best to do this in dry weather!) Also, watch the seller's reaction when you do this...if it makes him/her nervous, beware!
—Guest Helen M.

i totally agree

yes i totally agree with what is written. i just hope that it works for lots of people out there as well. thanks!

Professional Inspection

I recently purchased a used Honda civic from an online ad. I was a little nervous as i have never bought a vehicle from anywhere but a car dealer. So i searched on Google for a used car inspection in New Jersey. I came across www.AutoSpecUS.com, they are based out of NJ. I contacted them and arranged a very affordable inspection. They sent an ASE certified inspector out to the seller's home to do the inspection. I received a compleat inspection report on the vehicle which highlighted a few issues with the vehicle that i wouldn't have know about. The vehicle had a leaking axle boot and a loose wheel bearing. The computer system also had a pending fault code for a bad O2 sensor. With that information i was able to negotiate an even better price on the vehicle. My big Question is, Why haven't i heard of more people using an inspection report when buying used cars or am just behind the ball?
—Guest Eric

Remember to check the muffler bearings!

Just kidding, but some of the suggestions leave a bit to be desired. >Give the dipstick another twirl and see if the fuel levels have dropped. HUH!?!? It's an amazing dipstick that can tell you the fuel level. Most of these tips are pretty good, but I question the one above. I also disagree you should junk a battery because it's 5 yrs old. I've had batteries last 8 years and longer. Get it load tested to see if it's on its last legs or still good.
—Guest Craig


they polute more buy sending up rockets than coal or oil.butits time to shut nasa down those guys are killing us! epa out for who every pays them off first.
—Guest funny

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