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2015-01-29 12:37

TEST-DRIVE PITFALLS: Don’t be suckered into a quick test drive around a showroom. Test all facets of a potential ride and if possible try and take the car for a spin on your own.Image: Shutterstock

You’ve done your research and have short-list of cars you’re interesting in buying. All that’s left is the test-drive, which is where many people become unstuck.

Do you know what to look out for when behind the wheel of what could be your new - perhaps very expensive - car? Knowing what to look for during a test drive could mean the difference between a good car and a lemon.


According to Martin Janse van Rensburg, for Budget Insurance, there's a number of things you should watch for during that vital test-drive. He explained: "We can be so impressed with how a car looks and in the gung-ho excitement that we can be side-tracked and not look for the necessary things on the test drive.  

“You definitely don’t want to suffer buyer’s remorse so it’s essential to test-drive the car properly before buying. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because a car is brand-new, that it’s the right car for you.”

Here’s 21 things to check before you buy your next car:
1 - Make sure to drive the particular model you intend to buy.
2 - Once behind the wheel, review how well the primary controls are laid out. Ergonomics can make or break a good car.
3 - Observe how certain features might become an irritation over time, for example inadequate storage or a boot that’s difficult to operate.
4 - The driver's and front passenger doors may be large and easy to open but don't forget to check the size of the rear doors. Examine access for rear occupants - and if you intend to install a child seat.
5 - Make sure the rear seats are adjustable, comfortable and large enough. Can they be folded to enlarge the boot space?.
6 - Review safety features, such as air bags, active-safety electronics and adjustable seat belts.
7 - Make sure the primary controls are easy to use and that the clutch isn’t too hard or steering too heavy. Look for adjustable controls – adjustable steering wheel and pedals can be a great benefit.
8 - Ensure that the seats are comfortable and supportive.
9 - Make sure there are sufficient gauges and display screens.
10 - Bring your iPod/Smartphone along to check the audio system, ease of use, connectivity.
11 - Does the car have Bluetooth connectivity and voice activation; how well does it function with your mobile device.


12 - If you opt for satnav, make sure it is intuitive and accurate.
13 - If possible, take the test drive alone. Experience the car on multiple road surfaces and at varying speeds. Don’t be pressured into a quick jaunt around the block.
14 - Make sure that the vehicle has enough power for its intended use.
15 - Ensure that its brakes have a solid and reassuring feel.
16 - Take several corners to evaluate the vehicle’s composure when changing direction over a rough surface as well as how smoothly the transmission operates when driving.
17 - Check its manoeuvrability during parking. Take note of the vehicle’s ground clearance.
18 - Visibility is important. Observe how well you can see in all directions, particularly through the rear window and blind spots.
19 - Listen out for noise levels inside the vehicle – how much outside noise and wind enters the cabin and whether the tyres drone.
20 - If you’re buying a second-hand vehicle, the first test-drive is not only for your evaluation but also offers a chance to jot down the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), so you view a report of the vehicle’s history.
21 - The second test-run for a used car will be to take the car to a trusted mechanic for a second opinion.

Janse van Rensburg concludes: "Make sure you drive your potential car candidates back-to-back on the same day for a proper comparison. Take time to reflect on each vehicle and which one suits better. This preparation will make you more confident in your final decision for this major purchase."

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