A test drive is a routine part of the process of buying a used car, yet many buyers don't really know what they're looking for when they take a test drive. Buyers often end up with a pretty good idea of how the sound system and AC work, but they may not know much else about the car by the time the test drive is finished. Take a look at some of the things that you can do to get more out of your test drive and come away with more knowledge about the car that you're considering.
Set Aside Plenty of Time For Test Driving
Buying any car is a big purchase and therefore a big decision. If you were buying shoes or sunglasses, you'd probably try on several pairs to see which one suited you best, so why wouldn't you do the same with a big purchase like a vehicle? But many people don't—in fact, 55% of buyers end up only test driving one car, that being the one that they eventually buy.
Don't make this mistake. Set aside plenty of time for test driving so that you can check out more than one car. You may even want to schedule a whole day just for test driving. Not only should you take the time to test drive more than one car, but you should also make sure that each test drive lasts long enough for you to really gauge the performance of the car. Don't feel pressured to keep the drives short—if you're a serious buyer, the dealership should be happy to accommodate you.
Keep the Sound to a Minimum
You can test out the car's speakers while the car is sitting still—you don't need to be moving to hear how your music sounds in the car's sound system. During the test drive, keep the music or talk radio turned off. Instead, keep your ears tuned for sounds that let you know how well the car is running. Do you hear strange transmission noises when you brake or accelerate? Are there any thumping or squealing sounds coming from the engine?
It's also a good idea to keep the windows rolled up, and make sure that you have the AC or heat turned off for at least part of the drive. This will allow you to listen for the sound of wind whistling, which could be a sign of a leak in either the windows or the sunroof.
Use All Your Senses, Not Just Your Ears
Strange sounds aren't the only signs of a problem that a car can show during a test drive. You also have to look, feel, and smell for potential problems.
Look for warning lights on the instrument panel, and keep an eye out for gauges that don't seem to be working correctly. Pay attention to how the car feels while it's moving. Look for vibrations in your seat, which can indicate a problem in the rear of the car, or in the steering wheel, which can be linked to problems with the front suspension, engine, or steering. It's also important to notice how the brake and gas pedals feel under your feet. Does the acceleration pedal vibrate? Does the brake pedal go all the way to the floor?
Finally, be aware of any unusual smells coming from the car while you drive. A sweet, maple syrup–like scent can indicate a radiator leak or a problem with the heater core. A catalytic converter that isn't properly processing hydrogen sulfide gives off a smell like sulfur or rotten eggs. If you smell burnt paper when you change gears, it could be that the clutch facing is burning off as the clutch slips.
Test drives shouldn't be perfunctory formalities in the car-buying process. If you take the time to take multiple test drives and really pay close attention to the clues each car gives off while you're driving, test driving can be a useful tool that helps you make the best decision about your next vehicle. For more information on purchasing a car, contact a dealership that offers used Kias for sale.