Ten Things to Watch Out for During a Used Car Test Drive

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Are you planning to buy a “new” used car? That’s fantastic! A well-maintained vehicle that has low mileage and is less than 10 years old can be a solid, affordable, and reliable investment. With that said, it’s important to make sure the used vehicle you are hoping to buy passes a pre-purchase inspection test.

If more potential car owners brought the used vehicle they are looking at to their auto repair team for a pre-purchase inspection, it would drastically reduce heartache and hemorrhaging wallets. Instead, pre-purchase inspections would allow prospective buyers to walk away from a lemon, or gain negotiating power if they still want to purchase a troubled vehicle.

But if you do not have the time for the auto repair team at Kniesel’s Auto Service Centers to perform a pre-purchase inspection, or you are away from our area when purchasing a used car, here are ten things to watch out for during a used car test drive:


  1. Odd noises coming from the interior or exterior of the vehicle

  2. Slow brake response when you push the brake pedal

  3. Lurching or a jerky-feeling ride

  4. Non-working headlights, taillights, brake lights, dashboard lights, etc.

  5. Unresponsive power windows, power locks, or sun roofs

  6. Odd or musty smells coming from the air conditioning vents

  7. Grinding sounds when driving a manual transmission

  8. When taking a curve or a sharp turn, the vehicle feels wobbly or top-heavy

  9. Excessive bouncing while driving over uneven roads

  10. Broken rear-view or side-view mirrors, cracks in the windshield, or noticeable damage in any of the windows

If you experience any of these ten items while test driving a used vehicle, consider it a red flag that could expose deeper issues. At Kniesel’s Auto Service Centers in Citrus Heights, Roseville, and Sacramento, we highly recommend scheduling a pre-purchase inspection with our team -- or a trust auto mechanic if you’re out of the Sacramento region -- for a complete pre-purchase inspection. A typical pre-purchase inspection includes a full, multi-point, bumper-to-bumper report that spells out what is in good shape, needs attention in the future, and what needs to be addressed immediately. When you are armed with this information, you have the ability to negotiate a better deal if the vehicle requires repair.

Our family-owned and operated business profoundly cares about you, your well-being, your vehicles, and our community. We want to do our part to service and repair your car, so you reduce the risk of a breakdown in your family or work vehicles. That is why we wholeheartedly recommend doing a test drive and getting a pre-purchase inspection before you purchase a used vehicle.

Our Citrus Heights auto repair shop is located at 7649-A Sunrise Boulevard. Our Roseville location address is 980 Riverside Avenue. You can find the Sacramento auto mechanic team at 49 Bicentennial Circle. Our business hours are Mon - Fri: 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM, and Sat: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Ready for Kniesel's Auto Service Centers to service your fleet of vehicles? Make a Service Reservation online. Kniesel's Auto Service Centers: A family business with unsurpassed service since 1965.


Kniesel's Auto Service Centers is committed to ensuring effective communication and digital accessibility to all users. We are continually improving the user experience for everyone, and apply the relevant accessibility standards to achieve these goals. We welcome your feedback. Please call Citrus Heights (916) 722-1751, Sacramento (916) 737-5888, Roseville (916) 782-1771 if you have any issues in accessing any area of our website.