Five Things to look out for when you’re testing driving a car

During a test drive, it is essential to pay close attention to the smallest details

Test driving

It's so easy to get carried away with aesthetics when choosing a car but purchasing a vehicle just on good looks alone can leave you with ugly buyer's remorse.  The right car needs to look great and drive great, too!

Did you know that the test drive is the most critical aspect of purchasing a car? Before signing on the dotted line, a test drive is the only way to accurately judge the vehicle's driving experience, comfort, and suitability for your needs.

It's so easy to get carried away with aesthetics when choosing a car but purchasing a vehicle just on good looks alone can leave you with ugly buyer's remorse.

The right car needs to look great and drive great, too!

With so much new technology and features in today's cars, a thorough test drive is more important than ever. The best way to establish if a car is right for you, is to get behind the wheel and take it for a spin.

Follow these five all-important tips by when you're test-driving a car.


Check the terms of the test-drive agreement to ensure you agree with them. If you have any questions, ask the salesperson to clarify the terms and conditions in further detail.


Examine the outside of the vehicle for dings, chips, or scratches. Ensure they are documented; otherwise, you may be held responsible for damages that happened before the inspection. Verify that the boot can accommodate any large items, such as golf clubs, strollers, or oversized luggage, that you may need to transport. Determine the fuel economy. Ask the salesman if the car requires a specific type of fuel?

Before beginning the test drive, adjust the driver's seat, steering column reach, and rear-view and side mirror positions to your preference. Determine if the legroom and headroom are sufficient for the anticipated passengers.


The vehicle should be able to accelerate, decelerate, and maintain a consistent pace with ease. Once the engine reaches working temperature, the water-temperature gauge should maintain a constant reading (approximately halfway between the cold and hot marks), and the temperature warning light should remain off. Harsh rattling or banging sounds may indicate improper tuning, engine or suspension component wear and tear.


The car's steering should be responsive, with no vibration or "free play" at the wheel. Ensure that the vehicle stops smoothly, strongly, and in a straight line when the brake pedal is pressed firmly.

Ensure that the transmission shifts gears smoothly and consistently (when you want it to, and when you expect it to). In a manual vehicle, the shift action must be positive (the gear lever must fit snugly into its slots), and the clutch pedal must disengage and engage the clutch gradually.


Even if it's a chilly day, verify the air conditioner's operation by activating it. At a traffic signal or stop sign, observe how the car idles with the air conditioner on. If the idling is difficult or harsh, or if the engine seems as though it is about to stall, there may be an issue with the air conditioning system.

Examine all technical features, such as the compatibility of the infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth audio streaming.

If you have young children, bring along their car seats to confirm that they are compatible with the vehicle's anchor points and seat belt buckles and that all seat belts are in working condition.


A test drive helps you evaluate a car's driving experience, comfort, and practicality, before you purchase it. Pay close attention to how the steering feels in your hands, how the vehicle feels as it turns, and how the brakes behave when driving.

Remember to never settle when test driving a vehicle. During the purchasing process, take the time to test-drive numerous options; you want to guarantee you have the optimal pick.

Why not test drive a car from offer a convenient, simple, and safe car purchase experience. Consumers are spoiled for choice with a network of more than 300 trusted vehicle dealerships across South Africa, representing more than 30 car manufacturers. 

Each dealership is Motus-certified and backed by more than 70 years of automobile retail experience, so you can purchase, sell, finance, and service your next vehicle with confidence – with just one click!

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