What Does a Road Test Tell You About a Used Car?

Used Car Road Test

A pre-purchase inspection is a comprehensive vehicle review done by a technician to check a used car’s condition and look for any obvious indications of problems. A standard inspection does not typically take into account how the vehicle operates on the road. At SureSale, we go one step further to also include a road test.

Having a technician perform a thorough road test is the best way to not only check the car’s performance, but to also assess its operational functions and search for any underlying issues that may have been missed in the initial inspection. Taking your car for a simple test drive around the block can help you decide how you feel about your car but it does not compare to a road test performed by a trained technician. 

A road test is a necessary step in assessing the overall condition of any used car. It can tell you which used car is safest, if any repairs or replacements are needed, and how the car functions overall. Now, let’s get into what is covered in a road test:

What is Included in a Road Test? 

A trained technician will follow a detailed checklist to accurately assess the car’s safety, brakes and pedals, steering and alignment, transmission and drivetrain, air controls, and look for any indication of a need for repair or replacement. The length of a road test will vary depending on the make and model of each vehicle. 

Here are some of the points that technicians cover when performing a road test: 

Test Drive 

The technician will drive your car on a route that includes hills, highways, and potholes. This will determine how the car performs in different conditions and whether or not there are problems with the car’s suspension or engine. Driving a car for only a few miles will not give the technician enough time to assess each necessary function. 

Safety Check 

The safety check covers the car’s windshield wipers, airbags, and seat belts to ensure that they are working properly. Without this, you’ll risk putting yourself in danger by trusting a car with safety features that are not guaranteed to work. 

Brakes, Pads & Pedals 

Have you ever noticed that bringing your car to a stop takes more time than usual? This is an indication that your brake pads should be replaced. In addition to checking how the brakes feel when coming to a stop, the technician will also check for abnormal vibrations and noises, as well as the function of the parking brake. 

Steering & Alignment  

A steering assessment determines if the steering wheel is properly aligned, there is excessive wind or road noise, there is shaking, and if there is abnormal tire vibration while driving. 

Engine Condition 

The engine condition is determined by assessing the function of warning lights, acceleration, whether or not the engine starts properly, and by making sure there are no abnormal noises or vibrations from the engine under acceleration or when idle. 

Transmission and Drivetrain 

During the drive, feeling for vibrations, shaking, and slow or inconsistent acceleration are important components in checking transmission and drivetrain. In certain cases, this part of the road test will also check that the car switches to and from 2WD to 4WD smoothly. 

Air & Climate Controls 

The air controls portion of the road test covers how the air conditioning and heat ventilate throughout the car. To avoid unforeseen repairs, the technician will check to make sure air conditioning and heat come out of all vents. 

Can I Perform My Own Road Test? 

A trained technician should perform a road test on the used car to provide you with thorough, unbiased information that goes far beyond the traditional inspection. 

That being said, you should still always test drive your car before buying to see if you’re comfortable with your choice. On your personal test drive, look out for things like how the air conditioning and heat work, how the gear shift feels, whether or not there are any unusual noises or shaking on your drive, and other obvious signs of problems. This will give you confidence to move forward and have a trained technician begin a more thorough inspection. 

Get a Road Test With SureSale 

With a road test, multi-point inspection, and vehicle history, a SureSale vehicle quality report gives you all the information you need to be confident in your used car. Take your test drive to the next level and have a trained technician perform a road test on your used car with the help of the SureSale Inspection App.