2009 Winter Auto Guide
A close up of a black, white and red gear shift
18-tip checklist: Test-driving a used car

As you drive

As with test-driving a new car, you still need to focus on how the vehicle accelerates, brakes, rides, corners, parks and steers. But with a used car, you also must listen for persistent sounds and feel for odd vibrations that may be harbingers of costly future repairs. These should be brought to the attention of your mechanic if you decide to continue on to the second test-drive.

Add these six points to your checklist:

1. Make sure you drive the vehicle above 60 miles per hour at some point. Many front-end problems aren't detectible at lower speeds. Does the front end shake, shimmy or vibrate?

2. Does the steering wheel vibrate at any speed?

3. Are there any odd noises when you accelerate from a standstill?

4. Does the vehicle pull to one side or the other when you accelerate? Find a large, empty parking lot. At 20 miles per hour or so, let go of the steering wheel; does the vehicle pull to one side or the other?

5. Does the transmission shift smoothly?

6. Apply the brakes; does the pedal feel squishy? Does the vehicle pull to one side or the other when braking?

It's been said that buying a used car is buying someone else's problems. You can minimize the odds of that happening by spending a little extra time and taking a few extra precautions.

For more information, watch "How to test-drive a used car"

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