What to Look Out for On a Test Drive

Filed under: Classic News |

If you already know what type of car you want to buy, you might have already started searching for sellers. Before you can make a purchase, you’ll need to head to the BMW Dealer in AZ or your local car showroom to take a good look at the vehicle.

When you take a look at the vehicle, you’ll need to search for any marks, dents, or scratches that are present in and around the car. The seller may have previously specified any minor imperfections in the car’s paintwork or interior but it’s a good idea to check that there aren’t any additional problems with the vehicle’s appearance.

Viewing a vehicle in person is not only helpful to check for scratches and scuff marks but it also gives you the opportunity to take the car on a test drive. During a test drive, you can check that the vehicle drives smoothly and ensure that everything is in working order before you sign the dotted line.

Without taking the vehicle for a test drive, you might not spot internal issues in the car’s mechanics. Underlying issues can cause a safety hazard and may cost you a lot of money to fix further down the line.

Your test drive doesn’t need to be long, whether you’re driving a classic car or a modern car. A quick 10-minute drive around the block will give you a good idea about how the car drives and whether or not there are any serious issues that need to be addressed.

Ideally, you should take the vehicle on a drive where you can reach a decent speed and different terrains. You should also aim to drive around an area where you can accelerate, apply the brakes, and turn the wheel several times.

To prevent you from buying a potentially damaged or dangerous vehicle, here are some key things that you should look out for when you are out on a test drive.

Cold Start and Lights

Ideally, you should test the car when its engine is cold. If the engine has been warmed up (if it’s been driven just before you arrive for the test drive), it can hide deeper problems with the car’s mechanics.

You can check the temperature of the engine by either looking under the hood and feeling the heat radiating from the engine or you can look at the temperature gauge on your dashboard.

Before you set off driving, check that all of the car lights are working. This includes the front headlights, the brake lights, and the turn signal lights.


Testing the brakes is one of the most important things to do when you’re taking a vehicle out on a test drive. Drive somewhere in the local area that will allow you to safely test the brakes, such as somewhere with traffic lights or a quiet road where you can stop and start without disrupting other drivers.

Make sure to try the brakes without holding the steering wheel too firmly. The car should brake in a straight line but if there is something wrong with the brakes, the tires, or the suspension, the vehicle may veer to the left.

Don’t be alarmed if the brakes feel a bit stiff or spongy at first. The car may not have been driven for a few weeks and it’s natural for the brakes to be ‘out of practice’ if this is the case. The stiffness and sponginess should disappear after a few minutes of driving the car.

Steering Wheel

During your test drive, keep an eye on how the steering wheel feels to turn. It should glide smoothly in both directions and should twist fully to both sides. You should also check that the car drives in a straight line when the steering wheel is also straight.

If the wheel is wobbling as you accelerate or brake, it may indicate that there are problems with the tires, suspension, or steering mechanisms in the car.


If you hear any bangs, knocks, rattles, or creaks as you drive along the road (especially if it’s a bumpy road), it might be a problem with the car's suspension. You should also keep an ear out for any of these noises if you’re performing any maneuvers or you’re driving at a very slow speed.

Problems with the suspension can be easily fixed but if the seller has not disclosed these problems, they should be sorted before your make the final payment. Alternatively, the seller should lower their asking price to compensate for the potential costs of fixing the suspension problems.