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Test Driving a Car: A Checklist of What To Look For with C&G Auto

Buying a car is a significant investment, and when it comes to used cars, the stakes feel even higher. You want the best value for your money without inheriting someone else's problems. That's why the test drive is a crucial step in the car-buying process – it's your chance to see how the vehicle performs and if it meets your needs.


To help you make an informed decision, we've compiled a comprehensive checklist for test driving a car. Whether you're considering a "buy here pay here" option or exploring used car low payment deals, this guide will assist you in conducting a thorough car inspection.

The C&G Auto Test drive advantage

Research the models you're interested in and understand their common issues and what a fair price looks like. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and what to look out for during the test drive.

Exterior Inspection

When you arrive for your test drive, take a moment to walk around the vehicle. Check for any signs of damage, such as dents, rust, or mismatched paint that could indicate past accidents. Ensure the tires are in good condition and have even wear.

Interior Inspection

Comfort and Ergonomics

Once inside the car, adjust the seat, mirrors, and steering wheel to your preference. Make sure you have a clear line of sight and that you can reach all the controls comfortably.

Features and Functionality

Test all the interior features, including the air conditioning, heater, radio, and navigation system. Don't forget to check the lights, turn signals, wipers, and windows to ensure everything is functioning correctly

Under the Hood

Engine Inspection

Pop the hood and take a look at the engine. Check for any leaks, corrosion, or damaged parts. Even if you're not a mechanic, spotting something out of the ordinary can be a red flag and warrants a professional inspection.


Ensure the vehicle's fluids – oil, coolant, brake fluid, and transmission fluid – are at the proper levels and check for any signs of leaks.



Take note of how the car starts. It should turn on smoothly without any strange noises or hesitations.


Test the brakes at various speeds to ensure they are responsive and don't cause the car to pull to one side. Listen for any grinding or squealing sounds.

Steering and Handling

The car should steer easily without excessive play in the wheel. Take note of how it handles curves and whether it maintains a straight line without drifting.


Pay attention to how the car handles bumps and uneven roads. The ride should be comfortable without any unusual noises coming from the suspension.


Whether it's an automatic or manual transmission, shifting should be smooth. Watch out for any hesitations, jerks, or slipping between gears.

Noise and Vibration

Be mindful of any unusual noises or vibrations during the drive. They could indicate issues with the exhaust system, bearings, or other mechanical problems.


Check the Electronics Again

After the test drive, recheck all the electronics and features you tested before to ensure they're still functioning properly.

Professional Inspection

If you're seriously considering the vehicle, it's wise to get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. They can provide a detailed report on the car's condition and identify any potential issues.

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