Test driv­ing tips

Lesotho Times - - Property -

A thor­ough test drive is vi­tal. It’s your best chance to make sure you’re com­fort­able, that you’ll en­joy driv­ing the car and that it’s right for all your needs. Main deal­ers might even be pre­pared to let you test drive a new car for an ex­tended time or even overnight — don’t be shy to ask.

If you’re buy­ing a sec­ond–hand car, the test drive is even more im­por­tant. It’s your main op­por­tu­nity to make sure ev­ery­thing’s in good work­ing or­der — un­less you’ve ar­ranged for an en­gi­neer to look over the car for you.

try to take your time on a test drive, even if you feel the seller breath­ing down your neck. try to drive more than one ex­am­ple if you’re look­ing at an un­fa­mil­iar model. this will give you a bet­ter idea of what that car should feel like to drive and may help you to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween char­ac­ter­is­tics and pos­si­ble faults.

• Al­low at least half an hour and drive on all kinds of road — a test drive in a town is of lit­tle use if you spend most driv­ing time on a mo­tor­way.

• Can you get in and out of the car eas­ily?

• Can you ad­just the seat and steer­ing so you’re com­fort­able?

• Can you see the in­stru­ments clearly and reach the con­trols eas­ily?

• Try re­vers­ing into a park­ing space to check all round vi­sion and blind spots.

• Take your chil­dren with you — are they com­fort­able in the back?

• Take any child seats you use with you and check that they fit

• Is there space for your reg­u­lar shop­ping bags, lug­gage, golf clubs, pushchair etc? Can you fold the rear seats eas­ily?

• Is the boot sill low enough? Will you be able to un­load shop­ping and lug­gage eas­ily from the back?

• Is it easy to take out and re–fit re­mov­able seats? Ask the owner’s per­mis­sion be­fore you try.

What to look for En­gine & Sus­pen­sion

the en­gine should be cold be­fore you start — feel the bon­net. If it’s warm, the seller could be try­ing to hide a start­ing prob­lem. Check for signs of ex­ces­sive smoke when you start the car and when you’re driv­ing. the en­gine should be quiet and pull smoothly.

Lis­ten for un­usual rat­tles or clonks from the sus­pen­sion.

Steer­ing & Brakes

Steer­ing should be re­spon­sive with no vi­bra­tion or ‘free play’. Brakes should give con­fi­dence and stop the car in a straight line.

Clutch & gears

Can you en­gage all gears smoothly with­out crunch­ing?

If the clutch doesn’t start ‘bit­ing’ un­til the pedal has nearly reached the top, the clutch could be worn and may need to be changed.


If you’re buy­ing a fam­ily car then take your chil­dren with you — it’s bet­ter to hear their ob­jec­tions be­fore you buy, rather than ev­ery time you take them out.

Elec­tric cars

Elec­tric cars such as the I-MIEV, ion, C-zero and LEAF are start­ing to ap­pear in dealer show­rooms now but should you ap­proach test driv­ing a new elec­tric car any dif­fer­ently

there are two as­pects that need spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tion — range and charg­ing time.

Dis­ap­point­ing fuel con­sump­tion from a new petrol or diesel car — com­pared with of­fi­cial fig­ures — means only more fre­quent vis­its to a fill­ing sta­tion. But an elec­tric car that doesn’t live up to range ex­pec­ta­tions could leave you walk­ing the last few miles home from work ev­ery evening.

If you’re ex­pect­ing an elec­tric car to be a prac­ti­cal al­ter­na­tive to a petrol or diesel then you re­ally need to bor­row one for a day or two. You need the car long enough to be able to make sure that it suits your life­style:

• Can you get to work and back on a sin­gle charge — or can you charge it enough while you’re there to make the re­turn jour­ney?

• Once you’ve got home is there enough left in the bat­ter­ies to make your reg­u­lar evening trips — chil­dren, sports, shop­ping — with­out a recharge?

• If you only make shorter jour­neys how of­ten are you likely to have to recharge — and what would be the con­se­quence of for­get­ting to plug the car in one night?

You will also need to find out where pub­lic charg­ing points are lo­cated — par­tic­u­larly in and on the way to places you might visit fre­quently. Check with your em­ployer too rather than as­sume you’ll be able to charge the bat­ter­ies while you’re at work, if that’s in your plan.

Cold weather, use of elec­tri­cal items such as lights and heaters, and car­ry­ing loads/ pas­sen­gers will all re­duce the car’s range on a full charge as will a heavy right foot. to get a good idea of the car’s true range:

• Drive as you in­tend to drive nor­mally

• If you reg­u­larly carry pas­sen­gers take them with you on the test drive

• Switch on ev­ery­thing elec­tri­cal Even then you’ll need to al­low some safety mar­gin as max­i­mum range will drop over time as the bat­ter­ies get older. — theaa.com

Test dri­v­iv­ing a car is your best chance to make sure you’re com­fort­able.

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