Land Rover Test Drive: How to Get the Best from Your Test

You’ve finally found the Land Rover of your dreams. It’s affordable, comes with all the features you want, your kids love the colour, it’s even got room for the dog. How does it drive though? Once you get in that driver’s seat, is the Land Rover going to live up to your expectations?  Or, maybe it ticks all those boxes but the previous owner has not kept up with the Land Rover service schedule and now faults are starting to develop.

This is why test drives are essential. You can get a fuller understanding of the vehicle, get a feel for how it drives and learn a little more about any issues. A test drive isn’t just about strapping in and driving off though, there is a little more to it, and in this edition of our blog, we look at what you should check and what you should do to get the best from a Land Rover test drive.

Take it from us, in our years as a Land Rover service centre, we’ve seen plenty of people come to us with a vehicle that have purchased without thoroughly checking it over. It’s resulted in expensive repairs and complete swap-outs of some essential parts!

Read on to see what you should do at your Land Rover test drive.

1.     Check your insurance

This particular tip will only apply if you are buying your Land Rover privately, most dealerships will already have provisions in place relating to insurance. It is always worth checking though.

Should you be opting to buy your Land Rover on the private market, check your insurance before organising a test drive.  You will need to see if your policy allows you to drive another person’s vehicle with the owner’s permission. You can normally find this on a third-party policy and in some cases, the person selling may have adjusted their policy to allow other drivers to use their vehicle. Insurance often has a lot of grey areas, so we would always recommend you speak to your insurance company before committing to a test drive.

2.     Call in advance of your test drive

You won’t normally need to do this if buying from a Land Rover dealer, although it certainly doesn’t hurt to drop them a line and double check you are still booked in. With a private sale though, we would say this is vital, especially if you must travel some distance to view the vehicle. A call also allows you to find out a little more in advance and gives you a chance to back out if you are unsure. You should also ask if the owner can leave the engine “cold”.  This way you can accurately check if there are any issues in starting the Land Rover. It would also be a good time to ask for documents to be prepared just in case they slipped their mind.

3.     Remember you aren’t just testing how it drives

The pictures may have impressed you and the spec may have ticked a lot of boxes but until you see it in the flesh and are utilising its features, you still don’t really know if the Land Rover is suitable. Consider bringing a car seat if you have children, or a suitcase if you travel a lot. You can test out space and functionality simply by checking how they fit.

You should also look at checking the tyre tread and phone connectors. Put a 20p into the tread to see if it passes the test and try connecting your phone to the charging port to see if it works. Whilst potentially small issues, they can come with big costs if you need to fix them.

4.     Check under the hood

You’ve given the Land Rover the once over, you’ve tested whether it meets your needs aesthetically and practically. Now you need to see if it drives ok. Before setting off though, have a look under the hood. Look for signs of leaks or other damage and see if anything appears cracked or split. Once happy, start the engine, if you hear loud banging or some rattling sounds, you may have a problem. This is why the “cold” engine request that we mentioned earlier is so important.

5.     Check the brakes

Perhaps the biggest safety feature to check is the brakes. You can only really test them when driving so apply them when you are in motion. If they respond sharply and allow the car to slow down without it veering off to one side or the other, the brakes are in good condition. If they make a lot of noise, feel spongy or the pedal vibrates as you apply it, the brakes may need replacing.

6.     Test the steering

You’ll need to steer so giving it a test will help you get a feel for whether the vehicle responds how it should. If you feel the wheel vibrating as you drive, there could be a problem that needs investigating. You shouldn’t limit the test to when you are driving though. Also, check how the wheel responds when the vehicle is parked. Turn the wheel from left to right. If you hear a popping sound or other loud noises, there may be damage to the steering or the front of the Land Rover.

7.     Check the clutch and test the gears

On your test drive, you should move through all the gears. Go all the way up and go back down. If they make a crunching sound, there could be gearbox issues. You should also pay attention to the clutch. If you don’t find any bite in the clutch until the pedal is at the top, it could be worn.


These are the seven most common checks you should do when having a Land Rover test drive. Without these checks, you could find that the Land Rover you buy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you have purchased a Land Rover and are now discovering it as problematic, contact RCV. Our experience as Land Rover service specialists means we can help get your Land Rover back to its best for a fraction of the normal costs. Offering savings of up to 40% on main dealer prices, our Land Rover services ensure premium quality at affordable prices. Using the latest manufacturers’ diagnostics and authorised parts, we ensure nothing is compromised when it comes to your Land Rover.