When you take the car out for a test drive, do you know exactly what you are looking for? No matter what your level of automotive knowledge, this this is your chance to understand what you are potentially buying. This phase of the buying process is extremely important to make sure you say yes to a good car, and not a nightmare.
The first step of your test drive begins before you even go to the dealership. Having a general idea of which models of vehicles you would be interested in, you should perform research on the features and benefits of these models. This way when you arrive at the dealership all aspects of the vehicle are understood.
Now that you have arrived at the dealership, it is time to look at the vehicle. Prior to even entering the car, take a look around the vehicle including under the hood, and under the vehicle. Take attention to notice any potential problems, such as oil spots or anything that appears out of the ordinary. Also take a look at the trunk, or storage area to make sure it will suit your needs.
When inside of the vehicle still in the lot, try the peripheral features so you can give it your full attention. Does the radio, navigation system, and Bluetooth operate properly? Are the controls easily accessible when sitting in a driving position? While you are playing with the features, try to find the most comfortable position for the seat, and the steering wheel. It is important to ensure the vehicle will be comfortable for yourself due to the length of ownership.
Finally, it is time to take the vehicle on the road. While most individuals tend to take it easy on the test drive, it is important to understand how the vehicle drives in all situations. Try to accelerate hard to gauge how the engine responds, or if there is any acceleration lag. The shifting of gears should be smooth during acceleration. Braking hard gives you a chance to see if there is any vibrations, or if the steering is affected by the breaking. Handling will be a large portion of the test drive. Try changing lanes, making sharp turns. Pay particular attention if there are vibrations, or difficulties when driving.
When performing the actual test drive, you should be listening for any noises that may be out of the ordinary. This can give you an indication if there is a potential future issue.
When you have completed your test drive and come back to the car lot, make sure you pay attention to the handling as you park. How does it handle during low speeds and while you are in reverse. Now that the ride is over, leave the car running and take a walk around the vehicle. Make sure to take a look under the car and the hood to make sure that any new spots have not been created. With these steps completed, you can feel more confident in your purchasing decision.