Buying a Used Car: Part 2

Buying a Used Car: Part 2


By: Tim Edgecomb

Once you’ve made a starting list of must-haves, it’s time to start test driving.

Test Drive

Test-driving a used car is an important step when deciding what to purchase. Give the car a quick walk around inspection making sure any dents or scratches are pointed out to the sales person so they can be noted. Once you get into the car make sure you’re familiar with where all of the buttons are and what functions they engage. With the increase of new functions and the variation between manufacturers and even submodels, it’s important to know where everything is before you begin to drive. For example, the inside of our 2017 Hyundai Elantra is going to feel very different from the inside of the 2016 Nissan Sentra even though they are both sedans.

Before driving make sure you look at the sound and climate control systems. These two systems tend to be very different even between sub models. They can help determine a number of potential must-haves. Does the sound system have a cd player or not? Is the sound system Bluetooth ready, and if so, how difficult is it to sync your phone to that system? Does the car have a duel or single climate control system? Is the A/C working? Are the controls intuitive to you? Once you’ve become familiar with the car, it’s time to get it on the road.Always plan on going for an extended test drive. Knowing how the car drives on normal city roads is important but there are other conditions which should be taken into account. When I test drive used cars just in from the auction, I start with normal stop and go traffic on city streets (0 mph-45 mph). It’s important to make plenty of turns and drive on streets of varying condition.

After city streets, I then head to the highway. Accelerating to merge is an excellent time to make a judgement on whether the car has enough power to meet your needs. Once you’re on the highway (55mph-80 mph) and up to speed it’s time to listen for noises and feel any vibrations there might be. It’s also an excellent time to test the cruise control. I typically drive at least 10 miles at highway speeds to get a comfortable feel for a car. I recently took the 2015 Honda Pilot and the 2010 Honda CR-V on the same 10 mile highway test drive and you can really feel the difference between a full sized SUV and a smaller crossover SUV when doing so.

Lastly, I take the car to a parking lot. Driving around a parking lot and parking the car under various conditions gives you an idea of turning radius, size, and how difficult it could be to park the car. If you are someone who parallel parks often, seeing how the car maneuvers is incredibly important. This is a step that I don’t see done very often and I can’t recommend this step enough!

Pre-Purchase Inspection

Never buy a used car without having a trusted technician inspecting it, or buy from a trusted used car dealership you have experience with. Finding any hidden problems before investing in a used car is worth the small fee typically charged to review a car. Not every problem found needs to be a deal breaker however, used car dealerships are usually more than happy to take care of any issues found, I know Edgecomb’s is. I’ve had to break bad news to customers in service after checking over a car that they’ve already bought and it’s not a good experience.
Keep an eye out for our next post on buying a used car!

Take the car to a parking lot to get an idea of turning radius, size, etc. I can’t recommend this step enough!