Test Drive - What to see when you go for one and tips to get the best from test drive of a car
Buying a car without test driving is like marrying without dating. Test drive will give you an idea of the car before you put down the money for it. You get a taste of it and it certainly helps you to rethink of buying one.
Do your diligence. First of all, take time to research on the car models that fall within your budget - read reviews and get yourself familiarized with the technical specifications that you come across including engine displacement/size suspension, ABS, airbags, mileage, etc.
There are people who'd still complain after taking test drive. I say, such people must have given a short test drive to the vehicle or may not have had any expectations of the test drive, and so after the buy they start experiencing that it is not the one they have expected. To avoid the post-buying disappointment, every buyer should have an idea of what to expect from a test drive and go and take a decently long one. Additionally, to have all the necessary aspects of the car checked, the prospective customer should be vigilant during the test driving time.
It makes a lot of sense to have a list down of the colors and other options you like, so contacting the different dealers regarding the same is equally important so you know who offers the best deal on the model you've zeroed in on. After coming to the dealer for the test drive, let him know that your test drive is not guaranteeing them that you will buy the car.
Before taking the test drive, make sure to make a note/list of all the aspects you wanted to check on the car during the test drive. The following lines will help you guide in the same.
- The braking strength as well as how they work. If the car features an ABS, how good it is: How about gripping and if they perform softly? How hard you need to press the pedal for braking? Remember that a long leisure test drive will seldom give the true picture of the car. Had acceleration and hard braking will tell you the guts of the car.
- Secondly, what's the visibility to the driver? As a thumb rule remember its good to have the driver's eyes a little above steering wheel. Since some cars have low seating, or if the driver isn't tall enough for the model, look for the seat height adjustability (check how smoothly the adjustability feature works).
- Visibility is very important. So check if you can take a glimpse at mirrors and go or you need extra time to focus. If you should be a short person look into the mirrors (all of them indeed) and check if you can see clearly from all.
- Check if the car features an auto transmission or a manual transmission shifting. The test driver should carefully listen to the gearbox and check if it switches smoothly and well. Check for the position of the gearbox. Whether they are placed comfortable for the driver and check for the amount of difficulty to operate that.
- Then comes the steering part; check if it is a quickly responding steer wheel or not. Also see if the steering is aligned well with the wheels. When the steering is held in center position, check if the vehicle responds and goes straight or wanders.
- Suspension, and how good the car's suspension is? To check this you have to test drive the car at least in three terrains; bumpy roads, highway roads and curvy roads. Check if you can experience a smooth ride on all kinds of terrains you have tested. Remember well that if the suspension is very good, the road imperfections are reduced quite significantly and you have a comfortable ride.
- How good a car handles can be told by turning the car at variable speeds. Check if the car is gripping the road or flying or sways away. It is always recommended to make a full circle or two especially at a parking lot like place which tells about the turn radius of the car.
- Check the doors of the car and close them to know if they are closing definitively and firmly. Doors tell a lot about engineering that goes into small details. Push the See if all the buttons are accessible to the driver and don't hesitate to push them and turn on the knobs (just the way a toddler does). Check the opening of the trunk/boot and see if the two ways (using keys and also by using button) of opening it work properly First, use the keys and then open it remotely, using the button on the inside.
- Check the AC. Switch on the AC when you are driving at 80 speed and see the drop in the speed. Also check how the climate control feature works as well as how fast the AC fills the car.
You may also want to add other points because the main aim of the test drive is to get a feel of the overall performance of the car you wanted to buy. So you are just making sure you are buying the best car that meets your needs. These may include honk, performance of reverse sensors, noise and vibrations beyond a certain speed limit, etc.
Additionally, go for a test drive at your time and not at the time dealer gives you. Remember that every dealer offer a test drive as a sales situation. Do not express lack of time and the dealer will make use of your excuse to his advantage. Go for the test drive when you have lot of time at your disposal so you can get all the information you needed from the car.
Remember a salesman can be a good source of information about the car, but his motive is selling. So ask him politely not to disturb you while you are taking the test drive, politely tell him you want to focus on the driving alone.
It is always recommended to take another person along with you on a test drive. Let him/her seat in the rear as a passenger and ask for the comfort of the drive as well as bumps and poor handles of the car at turns. Also remember not to switch on the radio during test drive as it will not allow you to hear other noises if any produced during the test drive.
Compare the different models of the cars, test drive as many cars and even if could not come to one conclusion go for a second test drive; it doesn't hurt. However, go after few days and approach the car with fresh perspective.
After a good test drive go to the dealer that offers the model (it could be a different dealer where you took the test drive). Go like a boss and never give the chance to salesman to throw a pitch at you. But allow him to give a demonstration of the features and check for those of the features/points you have missed in your journey through this point. Take time go home, think about all the features over and over, weigh all the pros and cons before you make the purchase of your dream car. If you are aware what a car is capable of along with its limitations, there is no chance you will fall for that embellished sales pitch. Happy car shopping!