Test Drive Checklist

February, 2022

Test drives. It is an important step in the car buying process, but many people sign up for a new or used car without one. If you are purchasing a used car, a test drive will be particularly important as you will be on the lookout for wear and tear and mechanical faults, as well as how comfortable and practical the car is for your needs.

The used car experts at Carz4u in Perth have put together a handy checklist of things to look for when test driving a car.


Before jumping in the car, it is a good idea to check the exterior condition of the car.

  1. Are there any stone chips, scratches, or dents?
  2. Have the alloy wheels been scuffed? If so, you should make sure to check the steering doesn’t pull left or right when driving.
  3. Are there any inconsistencies in the paintwork? Any paint repairs could indicate the car has previously been in a minor accident and repaired.
  4. Check the tread depth on all four tyres and the spare.


Now that you have thoroughly checked the exterior, sit in the vehicle and get familiar with the interior before taking off on the test drive. If there is someone else who will be using the car regularly, make sure they try it out too.

  • Is the seat comfortable and can it be adjusted to suit your preferred driving position?
  • Adjust the mirrors and steering wheel into position. Are your knees bumping the wheel?
  • Check your seatbelt for any wear and tear as you put it on.
  • Start the vehicle and listen for any unusual noises such as squealing or knocking.
  • Play with all of the controls; windscreen wipers, indicators, headlights, hazard lights, and electric windows.
  • Test the aircon, heating, and climate control.
  • Test the media functions such as radio, satellite navigation, reverse camera, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto.
  • If the vehicle has a sunroof, make sure it opens fully and smoothly.
  • If you have children; do the car seats fit? Is there enough legroom for older kids? Does the boot have enough room for a pram or extra luggage?

Test Drive

If you are happy with the exterior and interior, it’s time to drive! Make sure the radio is off so you can hear any unusual noises on your drive. You want to try to drive the vehicle in as many real-world conditions as possible including highways at higher speeds and parking.

  • Does the car drive in a straight line or pull to the left?
  • The steering wheel should not shake at any speed. This could indicate an unbalanced tyre or more.
  • If it is automatic, the gears should engage immediately and shift gears smoothly. If manual, there should be no grinding when changing gears.
  • Does the engine have enough power? You want to be confident to be able to overtake.
  • Do you notice any smoke coming from the exhaust? Black, blue or white smoke can indicate a variety of engine issues.
  • Don’t be afraid to test the car over speedbumps, hills, windy roads, and carparks. You want to know how it handles in all conditions.
  • Do the brakes feel firm and bring you to a stop smoothly but quickly? You don’t want the brake to feel spongey.
  • Can you hear excessive road noise or any unusual sounds?
  • If you are test driving a 4WD, make sure to engage the 4WD system to make sure it works.

Independent Inspections

If you are not confident enough to test drive a vehicle yourself, you can always pay for an independent third-party mechanical inspection. They will thoroughly check over the vehicle and provide you with a report with any major or minor issues.

Choose Carz4u – Perth’s used vehicle superstore!

Carz4U has hand-selected a large range of quality used 4WD’s, 4x4’s, utilities, SUV’s, cars, and vans. We do not sell ex-mining or ex-rental vehicles, so if you are looking to purchase a quality used vehicle, look no further! View our range of used cars, SUVs, utes, 4WDs, and 4X4s today!