You’ve been planning this for a long time—or maybe this is a sudden necessity—and you’re getting ready to buy a new car. As you wander through parking lots, perusing possible candidates, you stop at a car that has that certain pop to you. Or you find the car you’ve been endlessly researching. You like the look and feel of the car from the outside, but what about when you’re in the driver’s seat? When you’re in the process of looking for a new car, taking test drives are essential, but are you getting the most out of your experience?
- Interior: The first thing you’ll notice when you get into the driver’s seat is, obviously, the interior of the car. You’ve most likely singled that car out after you’ve taken a gaze through the windshield, but now you have to see how you fit inside the vehicle. As you sit in the driver’s seat, determine whether you can be comfortable in the seat for long periods of time. Along with comfort, look for and test out other valuable components to the interior: cup holders, stereo system/radio, heating and cooling system, seat movement (electric or manual).
- Handling: As you begin the test drive, pay close attention to how the car handles while turning, reversing, and braking. Does the car turn smoothly? What’s the turning radius? How touchy are the gas and brake pedals? Of course, it’s not going to be exactly like your last car, but check the handling to gauge if the car is one you can maneuver easily. Along with steering, check out the handle switches attached to the wheel: look for controls for the windshield wipers and headlights. Make sure that everything is manageable for you while you drive. You should also pay attention to the ride: is the interior quiet? How does the car’s suspension handle rougher terrain?
Where Should I Go on the Test Drive?
When you pull out of the car lot to begin your test drive, you need to think about where you will typically drive the car. You obviously will drive any car you purchase on a number of different types of roads and terrain. Where do you drive most often? Whatever the answer may be, you should take the car to that type of terrain first—if possible—be it city streets, interstates, or gravel roads. After, test the car out on as many other driving situations as possible within your time limit. Find a steep hill (this is notoriously difficult in parts of Indiana) and, if traffic allows, stop the car, then accelerate up the hill to see how much it rolls back, and how powerful the vehicle is in those situations. This will ensure that you become acquainted with the car in many different scenarios.
Will the Salesperson Come with Me?
While you may think you can get a good handle on the vehicle during your test drive, bringing a salesperson along with you can help you as you work your way through the drive. In fact, many dealerships require that a salesperson accompany you on the test drive for insurance reasons, so expect to have a passenger. This is a plus, though, as the salesperson will know the ins and outs of that car and can help answer any questions as they arise during the test drive.
While you walk up and down car lot aisles looking for the best car, remember that taking a test drive can show you exactly how any car operates.
What do you do when taking a potential car out for a test drive? What do you look for? Share in the comments section below!