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9-Expert-Tips-For-Test-Driving-A-Car

9 Expert Tips For Test Driving A Car

Know what to look for on the test-drive and you'll buy a car that you will be happy with for years to come. writes Geraldine Herbert.

1. Insurance

If buying privately make sure in advance your insurance will cover you for the drive. A dealer should provide cover for test drives.

2. Inside

The cabin of the car is where you will spend a vast amount of time so touch everything and open everything; see if there is a place for all your essentials, is it easy to reach storage holders? Are the controls behind the wheels conveniently located and the dials easy to read?

3. Check all the controls

Try every gear, including reverse, and test all the controls, including wipers, headlamps, heater and air conditioning.

4. Noise

Turn the radio and air-conditioning off and open the windows to ensure there are no unusual road noise vibrations or a noisy exhaust. The engine should idle smoothly and rev evenly.

5. On the Road

You should be able to switch between gears smoothly without any grinding noises. If the clutch is too stiff or weak that could be a sign of trouble. Test the brakes, including the handbrake. Is the steering light or heavy, light steering will make it easier to park but if it’s too light it may not inspire confidence at speed.

6. Boot Space

The boot is really important in a test-drive, so bring all the stuff you regularly use with you and see if it fits in there, from prams and bicycles to golf clubs. If you use it regularly it needs to fit.

7. Child Seats

Take any child seats you use with you and check that they fit; assess how difficult they are to actually get in the back and how easy are they to install.

8. Spare Tyre

Check the spare tyre; is it a space saver, a full size replacement tyre or a repair kit – usually comprising an air-pump and a self-sealant?

9. Parking

Take the car to a car park. The whole point of this is to determine how easy you can manoeuvre the car in a tight space. Reverse park it into a space and check all round vision and blind spots. – Do you find it easy to see out and judge the size of the car?

Do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

Geraldine Herbert has been a motoring journalist for over fifteen years and is Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent, Irish Country Magazine and editor of wheelsforwomen. A jury member for the Women’s World Car of the Year Geraldine is also a contributor to Good Housekeeping magazine and a regular commentator on consumer and motoring matters on RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio.

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