Top 10 Tips For Test Driving A Used Car or Truck!

March 8th, 2010 by

When you are getting ready to purchase a used vehicle you know that a good test drive is one of the most crucial parts of the process. Maybe your buying a car for your teenager, maybe your buying a car for you. You want to make sure that you get the car or truck that is right for your family, is safe, reliable and a keeper.

A staggering majority of people don’t really know how to test drive a used car. They just jump in a drive around, check out the sound system, and see if it’s got some get up and go. They don’t listen to what’s going on with the car, roll down the window and check for smells, or pay attention to handling. All of these things are important when test driving an used car or truck.

Mac Demere, a contributor for is a professional driver. He’s test driven so many cars and trucks over the years that he knows what’s most important and what to look for in a test drive. Below are a few of the top 10 tips that Mac has come up with for test driving a used car or truck. I think these tips are very good. They should help you when you are ready to visit your local Cincinnati Cadillac dealer for a used car or truck.

1. Have an open mind. A professional test driver must be unprejudiced. The products made by the driver’s company may be better than the competition’s in some areas and worse in others. And sometimes, modifications don’t always change the car for the better.

Long ago, a friend did it the wrong way. He fell in lust with a sports car just by reading the classified ad. After the test-drive, he swooned like the father of a newborn: “Isn’t she wonderful?” Then I got behind the wheel. This was before I’d started racing, but I didn’t need a competition license to recognize toe steer: It’s when worn suspension and steering components cause the wheels to point in random directions when the suspension moves. Also, after rapidly climbing toward the red zone, the water temperature gauge’s needle dropped like a rock, which meant its probe was no longer touching coolant.

My first test-drive report said: “Buy it and your only hope is that the engine blows before the suspension kills you.” The moral of this story is that as you evaluate each used car, leave your bias (whether positive or negative) at the door, and keep your analysis as objective as possible.

4. Take notes. Make a chart that covers the major areas: ride, noise, steering feel, tires, maintenance, interior wear, seat comfort, sound system, brakes, bodywork, and anything else that’s important to you. Grade each area from A to F. Make notes for items the grades don’t explain: “New radiator hoses but heater hoses need replacement.” These notes will give you a complete sense of what the vehicle has to offer, and could also prove useful as you compare it with other choices on the market.

7. Turn the radio off. Unless you’re evaluating the sound system, switch it off. Periodically turn off the air-conditioner or heater fan, but leave the windows up. This is so you can hear unusual noises. Though it’s difficult even for professionals, attempt to separate normal noises from those caused by wind, tires and car problems. If you hear a disconcerting noise, try to isolate it by changing speeds or switching pavement.

To see the full list of tips from Mac Demere see

What do you think about these tips?

Posted in Manufacturer Blogs