Table of contents
Steps for buying a new car/used carPreparations to make before test drive/viewing vehiclesThings to pay attention to during and when car viewing/test-drivingAfter the test drive/viewing the car

What to look out for when test-driving a new/used vehicle

With so many vehicle models on the market to choose from, needless to say, one should do proper research and test-drive different models before deciding on what car to buy. After all, decisions should not be made solely based on first impressions, and the look of cars can often be deceiving. It is particularly important to keep a cool head at auto shows, where car salespeople keep talking up the features and functions of their products. We've previously discussed what you need to consider when buying a new car.

In today's article, our Kwiksure experts will share the things to look out for when test-driving a vehicle.

Steps for buying a new car/used car


New car

Used car

Step 1. Choose your car

  • Choose your car at the showroom
  • Arrange a car inspection through a friend, on an online platform or via a used car dealer
  • Note the year of production, the number of previous owners, the mileage, the expiration date of the current vehicle license, etc.
  • Usually the newer the car, the higher its value

Step 2. Test drive

  • During the test drive, your major concerns are whether you like the car and its performance
  • Look out for unacceptable blemishes
  • Test the basic operations, such as the brake system, power window switches, turn signal lights, and see whether the steering wheel is working normally
  • During the test drive, pay attention to whether there is unreasonable noise

What to look for when taking a test drive

Step 3. Car inspection

  • No vehicle inspection is necessary
  • After negotiating a price with the seller, you can contact a car inspector to come to the used car dealer to inspect the car
  • You can also ask the seller to go to the garage to inspect the car with you to ensure that the car has never been involved in a serious collision
  • Do not make any major payments before the car inspection, but you can pay a small amount of money as earnest money (e.g. HKD $1,000)
  • Provided the vehicle is in good condition, the inspection can typically be completed within half a day

Vehicle examination in Hong Kong: Requirements and Procedures

Step 4: Sign a contract

  • If you are satisfied with the test drive, you can make a deposit
  • Sign a provisional purchase contract with the seller
  • The contract should specify (1) the vehicle is not used as security for any loans (2) the vehicle is not the subject of any outstanding car loan

Step 5: Secure car insurance

  • After selecting an insurer, you can ask the car dealer for the chassis number of the car (usually it is on the sales contract), and then give it to your insurance broker
  • Your insurance broker will issue a temporary cover (cover note) to you, which you can produce to the car dealer for completing procedures such as vehicle licensing
  • Ask the seller for a copy of the vehicle license for securing auto insurance
  • Secure temporary cover and take it with you on the day of the transfer of registration

Step 6: Transfer of registration

  • No transfer is required
  • The buyer and the seller sign a vehicle ownership transfer notice and complete the formalities at the license office

How to transfer the ownership of a car in Hong Kong?

Step 7: Closing

  • Make sure the car dealer brings all the documents, including the original Vehicle Registration Document (if there is a car loan, there will only be a copy of the Vehicle Registration Document)
  • Make sure there are no major problems with the vehicle, such as big scratches, or unreasonable mileage
  • If there are serious problems, the buyer has the right to refuse
  • If there is no problem, the balance can be paid
  • Pay the balance after the transfer of registration

Preparations to make before test drive/viewing vehicles

  • Do your research: Find out what type of car fits your budget and lifestyle.
  • Make a list: You can narrow your search by listing the cars you are most interested in and learn about their features and prices through official websites and car review sites such as If you are familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of a model, you will be able to compare and analyze it more objectively.
  • Pick a day for a test drive: You don't have to decide to buy on the day of the test drive - good decisions are rarely made in a rush.
  • Make a few appointments at car dealerships in your neighborhood: Scheduling several appointments on the same day will not only allow you to try out several vehicles but also give you a reason to leave a dealership.
  • Bring your driving license and proof of insurance: You can bring your own photocopies or have a car dealer make them for you.
  • Don't drink too much water: going to the washroom before the test drive will help you stay focused.
  • Take a friend along for the test drive: A friend will not only help you keep a cool head when facing a salesperson but also give you an objective opinion.

Related article - Car ownership: what you need to know about purchasing a vehicle in Hong Kong

Things to pay attention to during and when car viewing/test-driving


Is it easy to get on and off the car? Do you have to bend over so as not to bump your head? Are the front seats comfortable? What about the back seats? Can you adjust the steering wheel angle to suit your height? Are the pedals adjustable? These are important questions to ask. After all, you will be driving your car for a number of years, and seats that are not comfortable may well affect your driving performance and even slow down your reactions.

The look

First of all, you should pay special attention to whether the vehicle has been involved in a major collision, and the telltale signs include whether a door has been replaced, whether the color of the body is uniform, whether the hood or the trunk lid has been repainted, etc. However, not every problem can be discovered with the naked eye - issues like oil leaking from the gearbox, water entering the engine, major collisions, rust on the chassis, etc., can easily escape detection by the average driver. So, even if there is no apparent problem discovered when viewing or test-driving a car, you should still have it inspected (including its underbody) by a professional garage if you are buying a used car. That said, you get what you pay for, so if your budget is only HKD $20,000 to $30,000, you can expect there will be some small defects, such as a few minor scratches. Therefore, when purchasing a used car, it is best to ask in advance or pay attention to whether words like "any inspection welcome" appear in the car sale ad because not every seller is prepared to have their vehicle subjected to such thorough inspections.

How it drives

Communicate with the seller before the test drive, and decide what route you want to take during the test drive (of course, it must be reasonable). For example, if you drive mostly on open roads, you can take your test drive on a highway. If you frequently go off-road, you should see how the car handles uphill roads (if possible). You should also check the following items:

  • Acceleration: Is the car changing gears smoothly (both upshifts and downshifts)? Is there sufficient power for going uphill smoothly? Pay attention to whether the car jerks when accelerating.
  • Engine and road noise: What does the car sound like when accelerating? Pay attention to whether the engine emits any abnormal noise, as that may signal either the brake pads, tires, or wheels are worn.
  • Braking: How does the brake pedal feel during hard braking? Does it feel sluggish or unstable?
  • Control and handling: Can you “feel the road” through the steering wheel? Do you feel any resistance or pull when you make a 90-degree turn? Try taking a few lane changes and carefully observe how the car behaves at high speeds.
  • Suspension: Is it too stiff or too soft? Does the car feel comfortable when driving on bumpy roads?
  • Blind spots: Pillars in modern cars are larger for added safety, which may also create larger blind spots. Check your rear-view mirror and rear window to find where your blind spots are.
  • Lights: Make sure the brake lights and turn signals are all working properly.


For example, can you easily connect your phone via Bluetooth? Is the information screen easy to use? And what about the navigation system and steering wheel controls?

After the test drive/viewing the car

If the test drive goes well, you may want to request a car history report and ask a mechanic to inspect the car for you. If you are not sure you have done the first test drive right, you can make another appointment and arrange for a second test drive. All in all, the most important thing is to think carefully before a formal purchase. In addition to the matters to be dealt with during the test-drive stage, you also need to secure either third-party or comprehensive insurance for the car, and you may also need to renew the vehicle license.

Related article - Vehicle examination in Hong Kong: Requirements and Procedures

For more new car vs. used car comparisons or other topics related to auto insurance, contact Kwiksure today for unbiased advice and a free quote.


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The above information is for reference only. Kwiksure takes no responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of the information. For the coverage, mode of compensation, benefit limit and premium levels of any specific insurance plan, please refer to the relevant policy terms.
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Author Kwiksure Team

Kwiksure is a licensed motor insurance brokerage company with over 20 years of experience in insurance. The company strives to simplify insurance and select the best insurance plans for customers that fit their budget and coverage needs.

Kwiksure provides a range of insurance products, including car insurance, motorcycle insurance, cross-border insurance between Hong Kong and Mainland China, home insurance, travel insurance, domestic helper insurance, and voluntary medical insurance. The team has been named "Best Car Insurance Broker" and "Outstanding Leadership Award" by various media outlets over the years.