What To Check When Test Driving A Car - Tips And Advises To Test Drive A Car UK

Planning on buying a new or used car for yourself? Have several options in mind, but unsure which to go ahead with? In this kind of situation opting to test drive a car is the best option, as it provides the exact details and feel about the car before purchasing it.

Right from the start the way the steering and seats feel to how the interiors work for you, test driving a car gives a lot of insight into how a particular car is, overall.

Rules For Test Driving A Car

While there are no rules set in concrete for test driving new or used cars, if there is one thing that you should follow at any cost, it’s that you need to have a car insurance if you plan on testing driving a car.


Insurance Tips For Test Drives

Do I need insurance to test drive a car UK?

Yes, insurance is an important element to consider for a test drive. Ultimately “Safety is a Priority”. so here we go with few tips for insurance, for a car test drive:

1. As mentioned earlier, do not test drive a car until you are sure you have an insurance to do so.

2. While larger dealerships cover your test drive of their demonstrative cars, you would have to get your own insurance cover at smaller dealers. Make sure you always check with them first.

3. Insurances usually provide only third party covers most of the time, which is why it is important to understand the terms of an insurance cover before driving.

4. Make sure to take your driving license along with you when you go for a test drive.

Other Rules For Test Driving A Car:

1. Most of the dealerships provide a maximum of 15 to 30 minutes time to test drive a car, but you can always negotiate the perfect time for you. You can extend it up to 48 hours if that is what you need.

2. Research and understand the workings of the car before you get into test driving it, so that your way around the car feels comfortable.

Before Test Driving A Car

There are a lot of things that we need to understand before we decide to go ahead with test a car. Test driving a car usually means that we’ve either made up our minds or are close to making a decision on which car we are buying. As such, it is important to keep the following points in mind:

1. Always take your partner with you, or another family member, and check if they are okay with the car you have chosen.

2. In case you have kids, be certain that there’s good space in the back for a child seat, and that you and your partner would still be able to sit comfortably in the front seat.

3. Check whether the seats are comfortable enough for you, which includes leg space. Leg space especially plays a key role for tall people.

4. Check if the steering wheel is comfortable enough for you, and if your driving position is good enough.

How To Test Drive A Car

While anyone might think that all car test drives consist of is driving a car and figuring out if it suits the person driving the car and necessities, there are a lot of other things that need to be kept in mind while test driving a car.

1. Do not let the salesperson sitting next to you influence your decision about buying the car, take your time to understand and get comfortable with the car before you finalise.

2. It is always a great idea to bring a family member with you for the test drive. They would get a better idea about the car and whether it serves your purposes. Also, it would help you remember and channel all the important questions you may want to ask.

What To Look for When Test Driving Cars

A lot of things need to be considered when test driving a car. Here are a few pointers to help you out and channel your thoughts when test driving:

1. Engine And Suspension

Any engine should start without any noise, which is a pointer of its good health. If there are any noises when starting the engine, it could mean that there is starting problem. Also, do not forget to check if the engine is cool before you start the car. A warm engine could once again hint at starting problems for the car.

2. Steering and Brakes

The car steering should be responsive without any vibration or free play, and the brakes should give you confidence that you can stop the car in a straight line, and that you can stop the car with precision, as and when required.

3. Clutch And Gears

Confirm whether or not you can engage all the gears smoothly without any crunching. The clutch could be worn and may need to be changed if it does not start biting until the pedal has nearly reached the top.

4. Family

As mentioned earlier, it is always a good idea to bring a family member with you, as it would help you get a better understanding and perspective about the car.

5. Electric Cars

The two most crucial factors that you need to keep in mind when buying an electric car are range and charging time. These two things make or break an electric car, and make sure that they both are good enough.

How Long Is A Test Drive?

As discussed earlier, most drive dealerships offer 15 to 30 minutes of time to test drive a car. However, you could always negotiate your way into wanting more time. From an hour to 48 hours, the time you want to test drive a car can always be negotiated.

There have been instances when a car was taken out for test drive for as many as seven days, so any amount of time should not be a problem, if it helps give you a better idea of whether it would suit you.

Test Driving A New Car

Test driving a new car should be a straightforward thing to do, as it means that there would not be any beforehand problems that you need to worry about. However, there are some things that you need to bear in mind, and the most important thing is that you need to understand that you would not be able to make up your mind for sure within that short span, and it is always okay to deliberate for a little longer. Here are a few tips you can keep in mind when test driving a new car:

1. Steering

Verify whether the steering is light enough for you to be able to control it well. Are the movements accurate, and are you satisfied with them? These are the most important questions.

2. Clutch

Ensure the clutch is smooth enough, and that it does not give you a tough time. Also make sure that the gearbox and clutch functioning is smooth enough as well.

3. Suspension

The car’s suspension is also crucial. Is the ride as you would expect it, on the kind of roads you are driving along, and how well does it cope with potholes, large undulations, and sharp changes in direction? If the ride is not as comfortable as you would like, remember that opting for smaller wheels or a model with different suspension settings can make a dramatic difference.

4. Engine

Check whether the engine is strong enough for you and remember that the performance will always be affected if you regularly carry four people and lots of luggage. All this would make the car engine work harder.

Test Driving An Old Car

Test driving an old car is a little trickier when compared to test driving a new car, as it would not have gone through the pre-check process that new cars do, at their dealerships.

The pre-checks that need to be done for an old car are quite extensive when compared to a new car as there could be some underlying problems that the owner is not aware of, or some problems that the owner would not want to let you know.

1. You should always look for any damaged bodywork or wheels outside and scuffed trim or bad smells inside. This can help you negotiate the price of the car.

2. Always check if the mileage showing on the odometer and the condition of the car tallies with the displayed mileage.

3. The one thing you need to check twice is whether or not the engine is not warm before you drive it, and check whether the car is warm before you drive it, as dealers often warm up those cars that have trouble in the cold starting. If their answer is not convincing enough, then there could be a problem.

4. Do not forget to go through all the buttons and switches in the car and make sure that they all function as they should.

5. Pay attention to how the clutch and brakes work on the road. They should function appropriately, and if there is anything amiss, make sure you ask about it and find out the reason behind it.

6. There should not be any problem with the engine, which should accelerate smoothly with no unexpected or undue noise and not too much exhaust output.

After The Test Drive

If you have various options in mind of which car to buy you should go through all of them, before deciding on which car you want to buy.

After test driving a car, make notes of what you did and didn’t like about it. This helps you remember which car is the best option for you, once you are done test driving the cars that you have on your list, making it easier to compare them all.

If you find the perfect car for you, then that is great. Of course, you can always make a new list and go about the process once again, if you are not satisfied with any of the cars you have already tried out.


Test driving a car is a great way to understand and get the feel of a car before buying it. It is always important to get exactly what you want in a car, as it’s not a matter of compromise. Make up your mind only when you are sure. Once you have made up your mind, and have decided which car to buy, make sure you get a warranty for your car as well, as a warranty would protect your car from any mechanical or electrical issues. Warranty Direct provides one of the most comprehensive warranty plans in the UK.

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