woman test driving car

Things to Look Out for When Inspecting and Test Driving a Used Car

Buying a used car is an excellent way to save money on your daily ride or opt for higher-end features that would otherwise be incredibly pricey on newer models. When a used car is well taken care of, the next buyer can enjoy plenty of benefits.

All too often, however, drivers find themselves in lemon riddled with problems and high repair costs. While you can always rely on a California lemon law attorney if you’ve been sold a clunker, there are ways to avoid the scenario altogether. Check out these top things to look out for when inspecting and test driving a used car.

Sunlight Helps

When scheduling your appointment, make sure it’s during the daytime and try to pick a day with ample sunlight. The better you can see the car, the easier it is to identify any issues on the surface such as scratches or dents. Any cosmetic damages can help you reduce the final price.

Take Your Time

While inspecting the exterior and interior, take your time. The longer you spend looking at each section, the more you’ll notice the small details. It’s easy to miss tiny defects and damage when you’re in a rush. This will also help you learn how well the car was taken care of based on any damages present.

Key Questions

There are also a series of questions you should come prepared with to help you identify any critical issues and avoid buying a lemon in the first place. These five will help you better understand the vehicle’s condition and the seller:

  • Ask the seller questions mentioned in the ad to ensure they are honest about the car’s condition.
  • Ask questions about each and every small defect, such as scratches or tears, that you notice. What’s the story behind them?
  • For private sellers, ask why they are selling the car in the first place and where they bought it from.
  • Ask where the car has been serviced. If it’s the dealer, ask for the records. If not, you can always call the shop it was taken to and get those records.
  • Ask the seller to describe the car’s condition. This can help you identify if they are being honest.

The Inspection

While asking your questions, move on from looking for cosmetic defects and start looking at other critical details. Check the condition of the paint, if there are any current fluids leaking, make sure the lights work, and test out the car’s audio system while you’re at it. At this point, you want to look underneath the car for rust or other red flags as well.

The Test Drive

Provided everything has gone smoothly so far, it’s time for the test drive. While this phase of the buying process is by far the most fun, it’s important to remember that you’re still inspecting the vehicle for issues.

Does the key turn properly, and does the engine start up without any issues? Keep an ear open for unwanted noises like clunking or rattling, and make sure none of the dashboard lights come on during your trip.

Most importantly, pay attention to how the car feels while you’re driving. It should be smooth and pleasant. Consider what you plan on using the car for and if the ride is a decent fit for your purposes. If everything is great condition, then you’ve just found your new used car.