Alberta Cash for Cars

How To Test Drive A Used Car

How To Test Drive A Used Car

So, you’ve narrowed down your search and found a couple of interesting used cars. But before you sign on the dotted line and zoom off into the sunset (or more realistically, rush hour traffic), there’s a crucial step: the test drive.

Think of a test drive as your chance to get behind the wheel and have a real conversation with the car. Does it handle well? Is it comfortable? Most importantly, does it feel safe and reliable? Alberta cash for car will equip you with the confidence to know how to test drive a used car, ensuring you find a pre-owned ride that perfectly suits your needs.

Things to Consider Beforehand

Things to Consider Beforehand

Preparation is key! Here’s what to do before you even set foot in the car:

  1. Do your research: Know the average price and common problems for the specific make and model you’re considering. Websites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds are great resources for this.
  2. Get a history report: Services like CarFax or a vehicle history report from the cash for cars Alberta Motor Vehicle Branch (AMVB) can reveal a car’s past, including accidents, repairs, and ownership changes.
  3. Bring your driver’s license and proof of insurance: This is standard procedure for any test drive.
  4. Make a checklist: Jot down the things you want to check during the test drive, from functionality of all the features to the overall comfort level.

Inspecting the Ride

First impressions matter, and that applies to cars too! Before you start the engine, give the car a good once-over. Here’s what to look for:


Look for any dents, scratches, rust spots, or uneven panel gaps. Remember, a little wear and tear is expected on a used car, but major imperfections could indicate past damage or poor care.


Check the seats, carpets, and upholstery for rips, stains, or excessive wear. Make sure all the doors open and close smoothly, and that the windows and sunroof function properly.

Under the Hood

Pop the hood (with the seller’s permission, of course) and take a quick peek. Look for any leaks, loose hoses, or excessive corrosion. While you don’t need to be a mechanic, anything out of the ordinary is a good reason to ask questions.

How to Test Drive A Used Car – Key Points

How to Test Drive A Used Car - Key Points

Now for the fun part! Once you’re settled in the driver’s seat, take a moment to adjust the mirrors, seat, and steering wheel to a comfortable position. Here are some key things to pay attention to during your test drive.

Engine performance

Start the car and listen for any unusual noises like clunking, grinding, or excessive ticking. Pay attention to how smoothly the engine idles. Once you’re on the road, see how the car accelerates. Does it feel responsive or sluggish?


Whether it’s an automatic or manual, the transmission should shift smoothly and seamlessly. There shouldn’t be any grinding or jerking when changing gears.

Steering and handling

As you drive, pay attention to how the car handles. Does the steering feel tight and responsive? Does the car pull to one side or the other? Take the car through some curves and see how it handles corners.


Test the brakes at different speeds. The pedal should feel firm and responsive, and the car should slow down smoothly without pulling to one side.

Taking it to the Next Level

If you want to become an expert on how to test drive a used car, here are some additional things you might want to consider:

  • Visibility: With winter conditions, good visibility is crucial. Make sure you have a clear view of the road from all angles, and that the headlights and taillights function properly.
  • Heated seats: Let’s face it, Alberta winters can be brutal. Test the heated seats (if the car has them) to ensure they work properly.
  • Cargo space: If you have an active lifestyle or plan on hauling a lot of gear, take note of the cargo space and how easily accessible it is.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!

The test drive is your opportunity to learn everything you can about the car. Don’t be shy about asking the seller questions. A good seller will be happy to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have.

Taking a Mechanic Along (Optional):

Taking a Mechanic Along (Optional):

While not always necessary, if you’re particularly worried about the condition of a used car, consider having a trusted mechanic accompany you on the test drive. Their trained eye can spot potential problems you might miss and give you valuable peace of mind.

Trust Your Gut

Remember, test driving a car isn’t just about the mechanics of the car. It’s also about how it feels to drive. Does it feel comfortable and safe? Does it put a smile on your face? If something feels off, don’t ignore it. There are plenty of other options in the sea of used cars!

Following Up

After test driving a car, take some time to reflect on your experience. Make notes about the car’s performance, anything you liked or disliked, and any questions you still have for the seller. This will help you compare different cars and make an informed decision.


By following these tips and approaching the question of ‘how to test drive a used car’ with confidence, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect used car for your needs and budget.

Remember, the used car market offers a vast selection of vehicles, so take your time, do your research, and don’t settle for anything less than a car that you love to drive! Whether you’re cruising down the highway to the mountains or navigating the busy streets of Calgary, your perfect used car awaits!