The excitement of getting behind the wheel of a car you may end up purchasing, especially when coupled with having a stranger (the salesperson) in the car with you, can make it hard to focus on the vehicle’s positives and negatives. As you take that test drive, keep these tips in mind so you don’t overlook anything.
Starting, stopping and swerving
While the salesperson will prefer that you not drive recklessly, of course, you have every right to check the car’s acceleration, stopping and handling. Operating the vehicle as if you are being tested for your driver’s license at the DMV does nothing to help you develop an opinion of it.
City and highway
Driving on the highway at 60 miles per hour reveals different things about a car’s capabilities than driving at 30 miles per hour in the city. If possible, get out on the interstate during your test drive and put the car through its paces at higher speeds.
Rearview cameras, blind spot warning and other advanced safety systems have become common on newer model vehicles. They don’t all function the same, however, so be sure to safely test their functionality and ease of use on your drive. And don’t forget low-tech safety features like seat belts and how easy or difficult it is to adjust them for comfort.
Music, Bluetooth, wayfinding… these features can affect your satisfaction with a vehicle just as much as the handling. Don’t be embarrassed about spending a significant amount of time getting to know how they work.
Every moving part
While opening and closing every compartment, repositioning headrests, moving seats forward and back, and performing other similar tests may seem a little excessive, you should do it to ensure you feel comfortable with all of your new car’s features and functions.
Driver and passenger
The experience of the driver and a passenger sitting just a few inches away can be surprisingly different, as can those of front seat and backseat passengers. Don’t forget to evaluate the vehicle from other perspectives. Your salesperson should gladly do the driving while you poke around a bit.
Buying, or even leasing, a car represents a significant commitment. A test drive gives you the chance to decide if it’s the right commitment. Be sure you get the most out of it. And, don’t hesitate to request a second test drive after you’ve evaluated some other vehicles. When it comes to a decision of this magnitude, you definitely want to be in the driver’s seat.