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Test driving the Figaro

The test drive of a Figaro is crucial in helping you decide whether to buy the car. And, as an expected part of the buying process, it needn’t be nerve-wracking. Find out how to take the perfect Figaro test drive.

Golden rules

1 – Make sure you’re insured – and check you’re sufficiently covered as you may only get third party cover to drive other vehicles

2 – Temporary car insurance can protect you for the day of the test drive if your insurer is unwilling or unable to offer you good, cheap cover

3 – Take proof of insurance with you to show the seller, or the police if you are stopped or involved in an accident

4 – Only meet a private seller at their home address or a trader at their premises, as it’s your guarantee they are the documented owner of the car

5- Print out the Figaro Buyers Guide as a useful document to check the car.

6 – Insist on starting the car when the engine is cold as this is when starting problems, excessive exhaust smoke and unusual noises are most apparent – you may need to arrange this with the owner before you visit

7 – If the car struggles to start it may need maintenance or replacement parts

8 – Ask the seller to start the car when warm. It must be smoke free at the exhaust. Blue, excessive white or black smoke can indicate internal oil leaks, head gasket failure or a poorly-tuned engine or worse a problem with the turbo – work will be required in these circumstances!

9- Listen for excessive exhaust noise, which could indicate a hole in the exhaust and that it will need replacing. Rattles may be caused by a worn bracket and are usually cheap and easy to replace

10 – It’s normal for the engine speed to rise to just over 1,000rpm for a few minutes, and then settle to less than 1,000rpm when starting from cold. If the engine speed refuses to stay consistent, it will need attention. Air conditioning systems affect some cars’ engine speed when stationary, so turn it off for an accurate test

11 – Turn the steering wheel from one side to the other; cars with power steering often produce a slight whining sound, but it shouldn’t be excessive. There should be no bumps, screeching or knocking and it should require consistent effort to turn the wheel

12- Test the handbrake by gently releasing the clutch in a manual car to feel the handbrake resisting forward movement. If the car moves easily, the handbrake is ineffective and will need adjustment

The test drive

  • Drive the car on a variety of roads and road surfaces, at slow, moderate and motorway speeds
    Spend between 15 and 30 minutes behind the wheel – any less makes it hard to get an idea of the car, while a longer drive could inconvenience the seller.
  • Make sure you use every gear in a auto gearbox and ensure each one engages smoothly.
    When you release the clutch does the gear engage at the top or bottom of the clutch pedal’s travel? If it release near the top – and feels heavy in the process – the car may need a new clutch soon
  • The gearbox should offer smooth gear selection, and shouldn’t be noisy. Check it ‘kicks down’ by accelerating hard when cruising – this should force the gearbox to change gear and produce a burst of acceleration.
  • If you can take the car on at least one stretch of dual carriageway or motorway.
  • If you can turn the steering wheel a few degrees without anything happening, it could point to worn suspension and steering parts.
  • Check the steering feels the same in left and right-hand corners; if not, the suspension could need attention, or the car could have crash damage.
  • Ensure the suspension soaks up bumps quietly and effectively, without juddering or shaking the cabin – noisy, bouncy or shaky suspension probably needs replacing.
  • Accelerate briefly while keeping an eye on the rear-view mirror to check for excessive smoke from the exhaust.
  • Brake sharply to see if the car pulls to the left or right. Vibrations or noises from the brakes and suspension could indicate worn or damaged parts which need fixing.