5 Useful Tips for Test Driving a Car
1. Plan Ahead
2. Schedule Appointments
3. Last Minute Details
- A copy of your driver's license, as a precaution against identity theft, always ask for this back before you leave.
- A notepad to jot down how you feel about the different drives.
- A friend, family member, or spouse to share your thoughts and impressions.
- Your preferred media device (smartphone, tablet, iPod, etc.) to test the audio system and pairing capabilities.
4. The Actual Test Drive
- Color: what you saw online, or a printed brochure might not appear the same when you are in front of the vehicle. If you first see the car at night, the color might not look the same under bright sunlight. Check for any bumps, rusty areas or scratches; even brand-new models may suffer during the shipping process.
- Cargo space: if you care for a child, check how child seat fits and if it's easy to install it. If you have larger equipment (massage table, bike, large signage, musical instruments, etc.) that is part of your daily routine, bring it along to ensure there is adequate room in the vehicle for it. Remember, you can fit a violin and a trumpet in most cars but need ample cargo space for a tuba or double bass.
- Engine: if you are looking for a 4-cylinder, make sure you are test-driving a vehicle with that engine out and not a V-6.
- Daily Travel: Ask the salesperson for a drive that reflects where you would typically be driving your vehicle: a five-minute drive around the dealership will not fit your needs if you drive on the highway most days; also, test the vehicle on a couple of bumpy roads or across railroad tracks.
- Comfort: how the steering wheel feels; your body's interaction with the seat and your legs' ease while driving, pressing the accelerator and breaks; ask your companion to give you his/her thoughts from a passenger's perspective
- Acceleration: you don't need to be a race-car driver to understand that your vehicle's engine needs to deliver when you're trying to get in and out of the freeway
- Brakes: how do they feel? Hit them softly and abruptly to see how they respond.
- Visibility: look through windows and mirrors, watch out for blind spots
- Quietness: turn off the sound and listen; can you hear the engine, or is it silent?
5. What to do after test-driving
After reviewing all checklists and notes and discussing it with your spouse or partner comes time to negotiate for the right price. Now that you are more informed, you will be able to take home the best car for you. Before you call the salesperson, take time to read the Consumer Reports to-do list for more detailed information vis a vis their interaction with you. Take all these factors into consideration before choosing the right dealership and taking your new car home.
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