The "New" Car Punch List
The only way to get to know your "new" car is to learn everything that's wrong with it.
So you've bought yourself a car, you've spent months deliberating spec, found the perfect one and now have it on your driveway. Not to ruin your moment but I'm willing to bet that its got a bucket full of niggly little issues because lets face it all used cars do. So where do you start? Well here's a cheat's way of figuring it all out.
Step 1 - drive your car for 1 mile
What do you immediately need to fix? This could literally be anything from not having somewhere to mount your phone, bits of trim hanging off or absolutely naff no name tyres that give you wheel spin in 4th on a damp slip road (You only do that once after a small sphincter twitching moment on the way home from collecting your supercharged MX5) . Whatever these first little issues are, write them down, fix them and then move on to step 2.
Step 2 - drive your car for 10 miles
1 mile doesn't really tell you anything about the car, unless you can see the road through the floor or its on fire, chances are you need some more time behind the wheel. A 10 mile drive the shops should shake out a few more gremlins, you'll notice stuff like the wipers need replacing, maybe a few interior buttons are sticky, does it get up to temperature or does it have a suspected knackered thermostat that you'll spend months chasing only to realize that they all do that sir, (maybe that was just me with my old Clio 197 that ran cool unless you were kicking its head in). Again, write them down, fix them and move on.
Step 3 - drive your car for 100 miles
I call this the tentative road trip stage, you want to have an outing in the car but don't necessarily trust that you'll make it to the Alps and back. What i'd advise is a blend of city, country and motorway driving, take a drive out for lunch somewhere. Get the car warmed up, blast down some country lanes, then return back via the big roads once you've engorged on a Sunday roast, a small glass of red and that portion of Sticky Toffee Pudding you didn't need. Here you might notice the brakes haven't got long left, the tracking isn't quite right or you've got a inconsistent knock coming from somewhere that will drive you bananas until you realize you've left a wheel nut key rolling around in the spare tyre well (yeah that was me again, no ones perfect ok?). You know the drill, write them down, fix them and move on.
Step 4 - drive your car for 1000 miles
By now your car should be pretty dialed in and you're exiting the honeymoon period now settling into a rhythm with your new metal. After a 1000 miles of driving, a few idiosyncrasies of the used car might rear their head, you know what i'm talking about. Irritating rattles, wheels that have seen more kerbsides than a shady politician or a blown speaker (am i the only person who buys cars that come with a dubstep CD still in the head unit?). Clicking off your first 1000 miles is always an important milestone after buying a car so make sure you fix these remaining issues. The next step is quite a jump in miles so for the love of god make sure you keep on top of any maintenance that crops up, I wont be held accountable for you broadsiding a hedge because you were waiting for the 10k milestone before changing your ditch-finder XLs to Michelin Pilot Sports.
Step 5 - drive your car for 10,000 miles
The final stage, huzzah! If you've made it this far, well done on not sending a piston into the stratosphere or wrapping yourself around a tree. After 10,000 miles of driving you should know everything about your car and you've fixed everything wrong with it. You're a long way from the day you collected the car and you're probably bored of it and shopping for its replacement, but just in case that's not you may I suggest a service? You might have already done this earlier on, if so well done, have a biscuit and basque in your brilliance. Oh also did you remember to renew the tax, sort out your insurance and run the car through an MOT? You did! Well aren't you a clever sausage, my work here is done.