The test drive is not only an opportunity to find out how the new car handles itself on the road or how it responds when you are behind the driving wheel. It is also a chance to check out the actual physical condition of the vehicle from the outside. This would be useful to you especially when you are buying a used car and the owner has not been very forthright with his disclosure about any work he has been carrying out on the vehicle.
Very often this facet of checking out the car exteriors is overlooked by buyers in their enthusiasm and zeal to just sit into the vehicle and experience the pleasure of test driving the vehicle. This article focuses on some of the vehicle exterior aspects you will do well to examine before signing on the dotted line.
We start with the body panel alignment. Check it at the hood as well as at the front door and see if the gap is even on both sides of the vehicle. You can do this by placing your finger between the two parts and if there is some difference, you will know that the body has been dented in some mishap.
If the hood on one of the sides is lower than on the other side then it is possible that the hood support adjustment has to be done properly which can be managed. Similarly, check out for any colour differences on the panels and doors. Red as well as black colours anyway do fade with exposure to sunlight but even accounting for that if you notice a sharp difference, you should assume that fresh paint work has been done on the vehicle.
Whether the entire car has gone for a repaint can be identified by looking at the engine compartment. If the body parts look better and gleam more than the areas under the hood or the boot, you can understand that it has received a fresh coat of paint.
Other irregularities at the front and at the rear of the vehicle are usually in the form of dents. While you cannot and should not mind dents smaller than a coin, you should notice the ones that have been restored using a panel beater or those that have just been sealed or filled with fiberglass paste.
Damage to the locks or whether they have been replaced can also be found out when you look for any repainting signs on them. Also look for corrosion and rust signs under the carpet, under the car, the door bottoms, around the gas cap, at the wheel wells and so on.
Checking all this out before you actually take the test drive will enable you to take the decision of whether you should be going ahead with the test drive or not.