10 Things to Look For During Your Next Test Drive

10 Things to Look For During Your Next Test Drive

If it’s time to buy your next vehicle, you’ll want to take a test drive to see if it fits you and has the features you want.

Before you even head to the dealership for this test drive, you’ll research the vehicle, figure out which one has the features you want, and understand how much you can spend once you’ve done these things, it’s time to visit the dealership and start the process with the actual car. If you already know what you’re looking for, this process becomes more accessible, but it can be lengthy if you have several models in mind. Be patient with yourself and this process, and secure the right car.

1. Your Test Drive Begins Once You’re On the Lot

This is where many people make a mistake right away. As soon as you’re at the dealership lot, you’re reviewing the vehicle. This is part of the testing phase. Find the model you’re after and give it a thorough examination. This means looking at the body for dents, cracks, and rust. Check the windshield, look at the tires, and try the lights. These are all small, essential items that should work perfectly.

2. Enter and Exit the Vehicle Multiple Times

It might look funny to the salesperson, but you need to know that you can get in and out of the vehicle comfortably and efficiently. Doing so many times will answer this for you. If you’re not able to enter or exit the car through every door with ease, it’s not the right car for you. While doing this, close and open the doors many times, listening for any signs that the door handles don’t work right.

3. Check for a Lifestyle Fit of the Vehicle

Do you have small children still using car seats? Do you need to carry unique items for your family members or pets? Please bring these items to the dealership and put them in the new vehicle as part of the test drive. If they don’t fit right, this isn’t the car for you. If everything you usually take with you fits well and works in the new model, you can move on to the next step.

4. How do You Feel in the Driver’s Seat?

So far, we haven’t left the dealership lot during this test drive. The most important task you’ll perform is sitting in the driver’s seat. Do this and see how you feel with the wheel in front of you. If you can find a comfortable position for driving, this vehicle is a good fit. If you have to make concessions for the car, you should move on and look at a different model. This is extremely important if you’re shorter or taller than the average person.

Note: If more than one person drives the car, have each driver test out the driver’s seat for comfort.

5. Take the Car for a Drive

Getting behind the wheel and feeling this car is to take it out and see how it feels on the road. The best way to make this drive is with the radio off so you can listen to all of the functions of the car. Listen to the engine, brakes, feel how it shifts, and drive the car at low and high speeds. This is your chance to see how this car goes.

6. Drive in Circles Around a Parking Lot

Driving straight down a road or on a predetermined path set by the salesperson isn’t going to tell you much about a car. Head to a parking lot where you can make several small circles. Make a few in each direction, listening for any odd sounds that might suggest issues with the vehicle’s CV joints and steering mechanisms. Often, these items can creep up on you with some used cars.

7. Test Everything, We Mean Everything

Do the rear seats fold down to give you room from the trunk? Does the car have an infotainment system? Are there advanced safety features? How do you open the hood? Does this vehicle have a spare tire and kit? What does that button do? Yes, you need to test everything. If the salesperson comes along with you during a test drive, don’t let them stop you from checking every button or switch that you see, this could be your car, and you need to know everything works.

8. Drive Along Your Normal Route

Take the car along your usual route if you have a relatively short daily commute. If you’ve gone to another town because the dealership there has the vehicle you want, this will be hard to do. Do you usually have to parallel park on the street? If so, see how it feels in this car. Do you typically drive on the highway and in stop-and-go traffic? If so, make sure this is part of your test drive.

9. Take the Car Home Overnight if Allowed

Does the dealership offer a 24-hour test drive? If so, take advantage of it. Make the next 24-hours all about driving this car. Load up the kids and take them for ice cream. Pick up some materials from the hardware store. Do your grocery shopping. Could you take it to work and back? See how this car fits in your garage or driveway. If you can live with the car for a day, you better understand how it will fit into your lifestyle.

10. Drive on Some Rough Roads

Every town has them, and we know where they are. If you aren’t near any, find a couple of speed bumps you can drive over. You want to feel how quickly this car recovers from the spot and how smoothly it goes over a rough road. This is important to your overall experience in this car. If the vehicle tends to bounce after the speed bump or is too harsh on the road, you’ll want to consider a vehicle with a better suspension.

Enjoy your test drive and make sure the car you test is right for you and your family.

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