There are no shortcuts to finding a great used car. You should do everything right, starting with doing extensive research to test driving the car more than once. Yeah, it may sound a little more time consuming, but in the long run you will get a great used car. Test driving a car, in particular, will not only give you an opportunity to evaluate the used car’s ride and drive quality but also give you a chance to evaluate its mechanical wellness.

Basically, there are two approaches to car test driving. The first test drive is done by you, and it involves evaluating a car’s drive and ride quality and checking the Vehicle Identification Number. The second test drive is done by a trusted mechanic whom you may hire to give you a second opinion.

How to get started

Before you sit behind the wheel to conduct the first evaluation, below are some of the main things to look for:

1. Examine the tires individually to check for wear or puncture. Are the tires matched in brand and size? Are the tires is a good condition? If there is wear, is it even?
2. If the vehicle’s wheels have spokes, go to the front wheels and look through the opening to examine the disc brake rotors. Check to see if they are scored.
3. Check the car for any fluid leak. Check the fluid leak when the engine is running and again when it is off.
4. Go to the front corners and check along the sides for ripples. If there are ripples, then know the car might have undergone some repairs.
5. Check every single door on the vehicle to make sure they are operating smoothly. You can do this by closing and opening each door at the same time.
6. Check the door locks from inside and outside to make sure they are operating smoothly.
7. Ask the owner to turn on the headlights, brake lights or side signals to verify that they are working.
8. While the vehicle’s engine is left running, open the hood and listed for ticks, knocks or hisses.
9. Check door hinges and edges for rust.
10. Lift up the carpet in the trunk to check for rust.
11. Sit behind the steering wheel and check everything from the controls to systems to make sure they are operating properly. Check the air conditioner, the radio system, and other key places.