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Get the most out of your test drive

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.

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. Below is a checklist you can use when you go to take a car for a test drive.

Try to take your time on a test drive

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?

The engine should be cold before you start - feel the bonnet.

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 should be responsive with no vibration or 'free play'.

Brakes should give confidence and stop the car in a straight line.

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

Drive as you intend to drive normally

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

Switch on everything electrical