The test-drive, The most important part of
trying out a vehicle.
FIRST THING IS TO SHUT THE VEHICLE OFF AS
IT HAS BEEN RUNNING SINCE WE STARTED THE LIGHT CHECK ETC. Now,
just turn the key into the ONE position, ON NOT START IT YET,
and look at all of the warning lights on the dash. All late
model vehicles have a "Check Engine" or "Engine Service Soon"
light that should come on when the key is turned on. If these
lights do not come on with the key on, STOP RIGHT NOW. Ask the
Salesperson if they can get this light repaired before you go
any further. If they don't want to repair the light and arrange
for you to retest the vehicle, you had best start looking for
If your visual inspection has shown this vehicle
worthy of a test drive, now is the time. Remember the vehicle
should already be well warmed up from the testing we have done
so far. If you have brought a friend with you, ask them to ride
in the BACK seat and check the fuel gauge to be sure there is
enough fuel in the vehicle. If the radio is turned on, TURN
IT OFF. Ask your friend to check all seat belts in the back
and then have them sit on the passenger side. (They are going
to have a very important job and that is to listen for noises
from the rear of the vehicle.) The best place to take a vehicle
for a test drive is over a route and roads that you are used
to driving. (Like your route from home to work, or the reverse,
work area to home.) In this way, you can compare the vehicle
you are testing, to the vehicle you own now.
However, a test drive should include the following:
1. Stop and go, under 60kph. (40mph.) Pay attention to how the
vehicle responds to stopping and going. Watch for such things
as a rough return to idle or a hesitation on acceleration. Also
see how the brakes and steering feel. Do the brakes vibrate
when you stop or does the car pull on way or the other? If it
has a standard transmission, does it shift smooth and does the
clutch FEEL ok?
2. Freeway driving for at least 15 kilometers. (10 miles.) Again,
really pay attention to how the vehicle drives. Do you or your
friend in the back, feel any vibrations or hear any odd noises?
Does the vehicle steer ok or does it DRIFT to one side or the
other? Try the passing kickdown if it is an automatic.
3. Up hills at freeway speed. Slow down a bit, (Without interfering
with traffic.) and then accelerate up the hill. Pay attention
to any sort of shimmy or vibration. Do you hear any odd noises?
4. Stopping from freeway speed. (Make sure you do this when
there will be no problem with other traffic.) Does the vehicle
stop smooth or do you feel a shudder or a pull to one side or
5. Turning sweeping corners like freeway exits, going both left
and right. Try to do this where you can do it at the same speed
each way and then see if the vehicle FEELS the same going in
each direction. Does it corner the same both ways or does the
vehicle tend to lean more one way or the other. Do you or your
friend hear any odd noises from the front or back of the vehicle?
6. Up hills at city speed, 50-60kph. (30-40 mph.) If possible,
try to find a place where you can actually stop at the bottom
of a fairly steep hill and then go from a start. Pay attention
to how the vehicle shifts and at what speeds. Does it accelerate
smoothly or is it jerky?
7. Stopping HARD from 60 kph. (40 mph) as if a car just stopped
in front of you. Again, does the vehicle stop straight or does
it pull to one side or the other? Can any noises be heard?
If the vehicle has passed this far, it is
time to take it for a THOROUGH PROFESSIONAL evaluation. But,
prepare a little list of things that you may have noticed to
bring to their attention. After that, you may want to deal on
"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - September 12th,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999