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Published on January 10th, 2019 | by Jones

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Going for a test drive? How to do it properly

Buying your first car is exciting and nerve-wracking. You are likely looking forward to your new-found freedom and independence, but are not too sure where to start in the buying process. One of the most important steps, after you have done research for used cars for sale in KZN or elsewhere in South Africa is to book a test drive for the car or cars that you like. But, how do you perform a test drive properly to maximise the experience?

You will find that all car dealerships in KZN offer test drives of their vehicles.  Which means that if you are looking for cars for sale in KwaZulu-Natal, you will be able to test them out to find one that best suits your needs and driving abilities. So, if you are ready to go out and find the best used cars in KZN, read on below for some helpful hints on how to properly test drive a car.

Start with an inspection

Before you even get inside the car to start it up, you should perform an inspection of the vehicle. This inspection should be of the interior and the exterior and should include the following:

  • Check that the joining of the body is regular and even
  • Ensure that the paint is still new and smooth
  • Be sure to unlock all doors and open the windows to see how well they operate
  • Ensure that there is a spare tyre and all accessories for changing it
  • Try out the seats and see if they are comfortable
  • Check the features such as electric windows and power steering for problems

Once you have performed an inspection, you can move on to actually driving the car, following the tips outlined below.

Think about how the ride feels

When you are in the vehicle and have adjusted the seats and mirrors to your liking, think about how the car feels when it is stopped and while it is in motion. Take note of how easy it is to steer the car, whether it is easy or too difficult.

You should also look at how smoothly the car takes off when you start it and how it handles in heavy traffic and on the highway. If your car has cruise control, test it out on a highway. Take the car out onto bumpy roads to test the suspension and find hills that require some stop-start action. This will show you how the car will feel when you drive it in different situations. Ask the salesperson if you can take it on a few different routes to get a true feel for it.

Be sure to test the brakes

While on your test drive, one of the most important features you will need to check is the brakes. You can test these out by going along a route which has a lot of stop and start traffic, or by taking a route which has numerous corners.

If you notice the brakes are not smooth, ask the salesperson why this is. Brakes that make a smooth stop difficult to manage will be problematic in traffic, but similarly, if they have a long braking difference this will make sudden situations dangerous. If you are not comfortable with the vehicle’s stopping ability, it might be time to look at another model.

Keep the drive quiet

One of the most important aspects of a test drive is to keep it as quiet as possible. This means that you should not listen to any music while driving, and there should be very little talking from you and the car dealers who might join you.

While it might seem as though you are being rude, it is important to have quiet in the car to listen for any strange noises and hear how the engine runs in different situations. If you hear that it is labouring while you are idling at a traffic light, alert the salesperson to this issue. If you notice that changing gears gives off a grinding sound, this means there is an issue with the gear box. Make a note of each sound you hear and discuss them with the dealer.

Test out the electronics

Many modern cars now have electronic systems in them. These can include Bluetooth sound systems, central locking, a GPS system, and a rear-view camera for reversing. When you are testing out the car, be sure to test these out as well. For the sound system, try it in the parking lot of the dealership so it will not distract you while driving.

You should include a parking lot in your test drive to see if the rearview camera works and allows you to easily reverse out of a parking space. Take note of how well the electronics perform and if there are any issues with certain items. Ask the dealer why there are issues and if they are willing to replace the electronics that do not function properly. It will be difficult to manage with malfunctioning equipment, especially as a new driver.

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