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Successful used car purchase: the most important tips for a test drive

Werner Popp
Successful used car purchase
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Control lights in view

N Even before the car is allowed on the road, you should start the engine and pay attention to the indicator lights in the dashboard. If one of the lights stays on, you can assume that something is broken. A little windshield washer fluid is the smallest problem. However, if the engine control lamp or the ABS lamp shines, there is probably a more serious problem.

Open your ears for background noise

When standing, watch out for unwanted noises. Very loud clicking or clacking of the motor is usually not a good sign. This also applies to a very restless running of the engine. Do not drive off immediately, because the noise of the tires can mask a lot. Another tip: The engine must not be warm before the journey - unusual noises are particularly evident when it is cold.

Shift through gears

Then it's off to the street. Julian advises to accelerate the car fully once and to shift through all gears. You can tell whether the engine revs up without any problems and whether all gears can be shifted well or noises occur somewhere.

Defects with straight-ahead driving check

You should take enough time for a test drive and try out various driving maneuvers. You can check whether the chassis has defects by driving straight ahead, for example. The best thing to do is to find a street with little traffic. Even slight deviations from the lane can result in expensive damage to the chassis or the steering.

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Don't forget to brake hard

The brake check is particularly important. Stay on the little-used roadand make sure that nobody drives behind you and that no cyclist can get in the way. Then step into the iron once and make sure that the brakes are really grabbing. Repeat the process and this time pay attention to whether the car pulls to one side - which would not be good.

Comfort test on a bumpy road

Next, find a bad route, cobblestones are ideal here. You should pay particular attention to comfort in the car. That means: Do you notice any of the bumps? If blows from the road are passed on into the car, something is definitely wrong with the dampers. Strong rumbling noises can signal damage to the wheel suspension and axles.

Concentrate on the noise level

Drive the bad route directly once again. But this time don't pay attention to the comfort, but to abnormal or annoying background noises - i.e. creaking noises and the like that come from the interior. Even more: You can also detect wobbly parts. Turn the ventilation on and off, watch out for any wobbling buttons and whether the interior panels are tight.

Fully folded in both directions

It is best to find a parking space. Park the car and bring the steering wheel straight ahead. Then turn completely to the left. This will check that the steering is working properly. Creaking noises are not a good sign. Now turn the steering wheel completely to the right. Both times it should turn the same way.

Start with the handbrake

You can do the next test wonderful when driving off from the parking lot. If you have not already done so, apply the handbrake fully and engage first gear. Step on the gas and make sure that the car bends evenly. The tail should sink slightly on both the right and left sides. If this is not the case, the handbrake only engages on one side.

Let the clutch come on

You can do the last test You stay in the parking lot again. This time, put it in second gear and accelerate. The engine should come to around 2,500 revolutions. Now let the clutch come. The engine should go out.


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