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How To Test Drive a Car In The Summer

By raccars Published

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The summer is a great time for buying a used car. Long hours of daylight, relatively warm weather… sometimes even the famous British weather holds off and lets the sunshine break through.

But just because it is pleasant out there doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Indeed, summer weather presents its own particular challenges for assessing a used car – along with its own opportunities for weighing up its health.

Here, RAC Cars brings you five tips from the trade on how to test drive a used car in the summer.

See how the air con copes

Many modern car come with air condition these days. Most car buyers consider it an absolute must-have – particularly in the height of summer.

When assessing a used car, it’s advised you turn it on full, to check the expensive compressor still operates properly. Easier than said than done in the depths of winter, where even the non-conditioned air is freezing cold! Luckily, it’s far easier to do in the summer – and the bigger the temperature differential between outside and in, the better you know the system is working.

Remember to take off your sunglasses when checking the paintwork

It’s always worth casting a careful, keen eye down the lines of the car to check out the bodywork. This can tell you plenty – whether there’s been any paint damage, any panel repairs, even if there are any little car park dents that you can’t spot from a distance.

Don’t forget to take your sunglasses off, though! Shades will do just that – shade any potential damage and trouble spots from you. Forget looking cool and remember that buying a damaged car is anything but cool.

Try not to drive with the windows down

A big part of any test drive is using your ears – listening out for any tell-tale clonks, whirrs, rattles or bangs that could indicate expensive problems deep below the surface.

It’s tempting when it’s 28 degrees outside to drive round with the windows open, thinking you’ll still hear these noises. You won’t: wind noise will soon drown them out. Keep the windows up and the cabin as quiet as possible to potentially save yourself thousands by hearing the first whines of a worn differential or tired engine…

Watch the water temperature gauge carefully

A car’s cooling system has to work a lot harder in the summer. Most modern cars are fine but poorly maintained models may struggle to keep temperatures under control.

Watch the temperature gauge carefully, then. Today’s cars are designed to keep a fairly constant engine temperature, so the gauge should barely move. If it fluctuates – or, even worse, continues to rise on up when you’re travelling slowly – be worried. Any contemporary car simply shouldn’t do that, so there’s something wrong.

Try and give it a once-over in a shaded area

The intense glare of the sun on a car can sometimes make spotting the nuances outside and in rather tricky. It’s hard to tell just how even a paint match is across many panels, or in what sort of condition the interior fittings are in, when the sun is at its most fierce.

It’s well worth pulling over during the test drive in a shaded area to look at the car in, literally, a new light. You may well find a few minutes walking round the car here will throw up things you simply couldn't see before.

Do you have any tips for assessing a car in the British summertime? If so, let us know via Facebook, Twitter or Google+ - we promise to share the hottest!

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