Things You Need to Know Before You Test Drive a Car

Buying a new car is one of the largest investments you can make, and is a decision with effects that can last for years. Test-driving the car before you buy is the best way to get acquainted with it and making sure you’re happy with your decision. Here are some tips to make the dry run a successful one:

  1. Know Exactly What You Want. Do extensive research. Not only should you know what make and model you want to buy, but you should have a very good idea what options the car should have before you make the trip to the dealership. Don’t forget to have a target price in mind.
  2. Don’t Do It Alone. Bring a friend who is knowledgeable and pays close attention to detail. Your friend may be able to spot things you might otherwise miss, from features and options, to the fine print on the sales contract.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid To Walk. Make it clear to the salesperson that you are there to test drive a specific model with the intent of comparison-shopping at several other dealerships. Since you’ve already done your homework, the salesperson knows that you’re not there to waste time. Or money.
  4. Test Everything You Can Think Of. Cars have very subtle differences in features that can make driving a joy or a complete nightmare. Your tolerance for these details also comes into play here, so make sure you and your friend take notice of everything. These features may be any of the following:
  • cup holders
  • storage space
  • headroom and legroom
  • ergonomics of the driver’s seat
  • placement of controls
  • satellite navigation system interface
  1. Drive On Your Own Terms. Set the rules for the test drive. This includes the route, duration, as well as your driving style. Don’t hold back. If you plan to drive the car every day, the test drive should reflect your driving habits. Aside from that, pay attention to some of these things:
  • Acceleration power when merging onto the highway
  • Braking power when approaching road hazards
  • Visibility and blind spots
  • Parking the car in a parking lot as well as in parallel on the street

Compare your results with road test reports from other drivers and owners of the same car and see if there are any differences. Be prepared to ask the salesperson some questions if needed.

  1. Don’t Be a Pushover. Let’s say you’re satisfied with the test drive thus far. Instead of running back to the salesperson’s desk so you could throw money at them, ask for a complete tour of the dealership. Your buying of a car from them is a benefit to them, since you will eventually have to go back there for service, parts, accessories, and, if they’re lucky, your next purchase. This is a good time for you to check prices for maintenance services and find out things like recommended service intervals, terms of warranty, and other matters.

The test drive should be an enjoyable process, one that establishes a good, confident working relationship between you, your new car, and the dealership looking to make a sale.