Test driving a car is a vital part of the car buying process. Just as you wouldn’t purchase a house without first viewing it, so too you shouldn’t buy a car without getting a feel for how it drives and if it is right for you. Very often, a test drive is the only chance you’ll get to tell for sure whether or not a car works for you, so you should make the most of your time and use the opportunity to get a true sense of how well you and the car fit together. Here are tips to prepare you to test drive, advice about what to look for during the test drive, and how to put what you learn to good use.
How to test drive a car
Step 1: Prepare for your test drive. The most important part of the test drive takes place before you even arrive at the dealership.
In the first place, know exactly which vehicles you want to test out. Don’t go in on a whim without any clue as to what vehicles you might like. Have a fully researched set of options in mind before you head to the dealer so that you can match your expectations to reality.
Second, you should bring a friend. Maybe you will get overwhelmed by the experience of driving a fabulous new car, or maybe you are easily tempted by sales pitches.
Whatever the case is, having a friend along for the ride will give you an extra and hopefully more objective perspective on the car and its features. Your friend may also notice perks or disadvantages you overlooked. Besides, if you are frequently going to have passengers, their perspective might be important to you just for its own sake as well.
Step 2: Inspect the vehicle. Every new car is going to perform the basic function of a car, namely, driving, so the purpose of your test drive is to get a sense for the details of the vehicle.
Check the outside of the vehicle to ensure that it matches what the online pictures showed. Look for any special features you had your eye on to make sure they work as expected and are convenient to use (such as a trunk that opens by motion activation or doors that open sufficiently wide).
Check the inside of the vehicle for any difficulties you might encounter. Evaluate the quality of the AC and if the car supports the sorts of technology you need.
Ask yourself some questions that might not occur to you at first thought. Is there a noticeable lack of cupholders? Are the seats comfortable? Is your field of vision clear? Does the car seem high enough off the road for your liking? These questions and other topics of concern to you should be on your mind as you get situated in the car.
What makes or breaks a car for most people is not always how well it drives (although this is certainly important) but rather the small details that add up to a positive or negative experience.
Step 3: Drive the vehicle. Now that you have viewed the exterior and interior features, drive the car.
Try driving on a number of different terrains and settings. Get on the highway and see how you like it. Go through a couple of local streets to test its handling in city driving.
Most of all, think of what sort of driving you will be doing on your daily commute to get an accurate sense of whether or not you could love the car on your daily drive.
Step 4: Make notes on your experience. As you are struck by the various pros and cons of the car, make a note of these whether mentally or on paper.
If you are test driving several vehicles, then you may want to take a notepad to record all your thoughts so you don’t get overwhelmed when you think back at the end of the day. Test driving a vehicle helps you decide whether a car is right for you.