Used cars are a great option for college students looking to get their first vehicle and experience some agency. However, the major downside of making the more affordable choice and going secondhand is that used cars often feature some issues that are the result of age, damage, or bad repairs.
Test driving a car makes these issues apparent, but what are you supposed to look for? Here are some warning sounds to listen for when test driving a used car that can tell you more about its condition.
Squeaking is one of the most common sounds a car makes when something isn’t quite right. If you hear squealing or squeaking when the car is idle, the vehicle might have a transmission issue that you’ll have to address later. Squeaking at low speeds is one of several signs there’s an issue with your car’s driveshaft, a crucial part of the car. Make sure to note when you hear the issue and what the car was doing at the time, as this may help identify the source of the noise.
Older used cars that haven’t gotten the necessary TLC often rattle on the road. For the most part, this rattling is the result of a loose part somewhere in the vehicle. Sometimes, the rattling comes from something as minor as a loose window. Rattling in the engine compartment or from the car’s chassis, however, suggest that something important is loose.
Growling, Grinding Brakes
You must pay attention to the vehicle’s brakes. Sound is a powerful indicator of brake problems. Grinding or growling sounds when operating the vehicle’s brakes tell you to steer clear of a used car, as the brakes likely need serious repair or complete replacement.
There are many warning sounds to listen for when test driving a used car, but these three are among the most common. While not every used car has these problems, catching them during a test drive can save you plenty of money by either lowering up-front costs now or avoiding extensive repair costs later. Ultimately, if you hear something that doesn’t seem right, mention it to your dealer before making a purchase.