This article is sponsored by CARS24.
Chances are, unless you’re Elon Musk, a car will be up there among the biggest purchases of your life. So, you’re going to want to be smart about how you do it — you don’t just want to throw away your hard-earned cash on some lemon that will die the second you hand over the cash and sign your rights away.
So how exactly do you be smart about purchasing a vehicle? Sure, you can act like you know what you’re doing; you know, walk around the car and give a tyre a gentle kick, maybe crank the hood and stare with pensive intensity for a minute or two and hope that no one catches on to the fact you have zero clue what you’re looking at.
You could do all that, sure – if you want to deal with the pressure of making a call then and there. But, my friends, the used car market has changed. Gone are the days where you’d have to make a snap decision with so much weight behind it. Companies like CARS24 are offering a whole seven days to test drive your next used car. Quite a lot better than a 15-min drive around a few blocks methinks.
So, in the spirit of trying before you buy, here’s what to look out for during that sweet honeymoon period so you know you’ve found the one, and not a lemon that will leave you wanting. Think how peaceful you’ll sleep that night knowing you asked all the right questions, left no metaphorical stone unturned, and found that literal stone in the boot (what’s up with that?).
Anyway, let’s get on with it, shall we?
Aesthetics check, baby
Before jumping in, take a lap and look out for any scratches, chips, dents, and ugly bumper stickers. If they have one of those family set stickers — you know the ones — get the hell out of there. That car is filled with bad vibrations.
Check the tech
Ok, you’re in. But hold on just a second speed racer, before you take off, take a hot minute to suss the aircon, see if your phone connects to the Bluetooth, see if the windows work, blinkers, gauges — all that jazz. Think about how you’d be using the car on a daily basis, and make sure it all runs smoother than peanut butter — the smooth kind, obvs (this is the only scenario in which you should be aiming for smooth peanut butter. Crunchy is superior in every way).
How’s the view?
This is very important — can you see?? Really take some time to study the various vantage points and potential blind spots. Once you’re on the road, take the car through a parallel and reverse park or two to really get a handle on the visibility.
Take your time
I know it can feel stressful driving a car that is not yet your own. In the past, I’ve been tempted to take a few laps of the block and then return the damn thing out of sheer anxiety. But you must conquer that urge and take your time, young grasshopper. Ideally, get on a freeway or highway, find some traffic if possible — really get a feel for it in a variety of scenarios.
Check the steering
When you’re on a long stretch of straight road, and it’s safe to do so, let go of the wheel for a moment (keep your hands hovering on the wheel so you can catch it in an instant) and see how much veer it has to one side or the other.
Test the brakes
On your test drive, pay close attention to the brakes. Do they feel spongey? Are they overly sensitive? Don’t be afraid to put the car through its paces and see how the brakes perform in a myriad of scenarios. You also want to pay attention to how the steering wheel handles during the braking process.
Here’s a big red flag: the seller jumps in with you and turns on the radio. This is no bueno. Sure it could just be an innocent move, or they could be trying to hide something. When you’re test-driving a car you want silence my friend, sweet, sweet silence. That way, you can keep a solid ear out for any unusual (and concerning) rustles and rattles.
Inspect the exhaust
Have the engine running, park, chuck on the handbrake, and head over to the exhaust and suss if there’s any concerning smoke escaping.
Don’t be afraid to be annoying
I know it can feel like it’s annoying to ask too many questions, but you’re literally purchasing a bloody car. It’s a huge move, and you’re well within your rights to ask as many questions as your pretty little heart desires.
Now, before I let you go, listen to this joke I thought of while writing this. Why does Tom Cruise look so relaxed when driving?
Because his car’s always in Cruise control!
Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week. Now run off and get yourself a smart bargain you little rascal, and remember, head to CARS24 for all your used car purchasing needs. Thanks to 100% online buying platforms like CARS24, buying a car has never been easier — so you can spend less time stressing, and more time on what really matters (thinking of absolutely hilarious Tom Cruise jokes).
Oh, and here’s the best part — if you buy through CARS24, you’ll get free home delivery and, as we’ve discussed, a full seven days to test it out and see if it truly is your cup of tea. Forget test drives, that’s a full-on test own.