Test driving a vehicle may be the most important step in choosing the right one.
The dealer brochure and list of features only tells so much about a car. Customer reviews and recommendations from friends may help too, but each person has different preferences. The handling of a vehicle can make or break a sale, so it’s best to test the vehicle before purchasing it.
Before going to the dealership, drivers should be prepared to take multiple test drives. The salesperson will probably ask to hold onto the driver’s license and proof of insurance. It may help to have a photocopy handy, and since salespeople are regularly trying to make a sale, buyers could spend an undesirable amount of time in the showroom waiting to have their license returned. Photocopies can give potential buyers the freedom to leave when they choose.
Most legitimate car dealerships will allow people to test drive their vehicles, but some dealerships will require a salesperson to accompany the driver. In case potential buyers must spend an extended amount of time with a salesperson, they should try to keep the discussion on sales and trading vehicles to a minimum. Otherwise, they can expect to spend a lot more time at the dealership.
Drivers should do their research beforehand and have a list of models or desirable features in mind. You should know your needs better than the salesperson in order to avoid getting talked into a sale you are not uncomfortable with. It could also be a helpful to have a friend or family member ride along to help take notes and provide input during the process.
When viewing the cars at the dealership, drivers should compare their options. They should take the mechanics of the vehicle into consideration and inspect its important aspects. For example, the trunk size may be important to one person, while other drivers could be more concerned with the car’s safety features.
Test Driving Tips for Beginners
While test driving a car, there are three things each driver should do:
1. Check for comfort.
Drivers should begin the test drive by testing the ease of entering and exiting the car. You may find that you bump your head or your knees feel cramped. This is also the ideal time for drivers to adjust their seats. You may find that the seat doesn’t provide adequate back support or visibility. Also, for visibility purposes, you should check the side mirrors and feel comfortable with the car’s blind spots.
Note the locations of the controls. Dashboard layout varies from car to car, so the location of turning signals and windshield wipers on one car could be very different from other vehicles. Some layouts, like those with excessive amounts buttons and knobs, could be hard to navigate and may make some drivers feel uncomfortable. Maneuvering inside the vehicle may be a lot different than expected, so the interior itself could be a major deal breaker.
2. Take notes on how the vehicle operates.
Aside from the interior controls, take mental notes about other operations of the vehicle. Pay attention to as many aspects of the vehicle as possible. Make notes on how the brakes feel (e.g. if they grab), how well the transmission works (e.g. if it shifts easily), how easily the car accelerates, how the car steers and maneuvers, and any noises the car makes. You find that the car is too noisy or doesn’t handle quite the way you thought it would.
3. Take a familiar route.
By taking a familiar route, you can better test the qualities and features of the vehicle for your everyday commute. In addition, vehicles tend to operate a little differently on back roads than they do on the main road. This could be a good time to test other parts of the car too (e.g. the suspension).
The difficulties of choosing a new vehicle can be overwhelming. However, by being prepared (especially first time buyers), you can eliminate much of the stress associated with choosing the right car.
Most importantly, you should take your time and be certain of their choice before making a commitment.