The test drive is an important part of the car buying experience. It should come later in the process after you make sure that the vehicle is suitable for your needs and within the price range you have set for yourself.
Avoid taking a more expensive vehicle for a test drive, as this is just another sales tactic for trying to get you to spend more money than you want. When test driving a vehicle, there are two areas you should be considering: -Is the car in good condition? -Is it the right car for you?
To ensure that the vehicle is in good condition, make sure you do the test drive in different conditions, from quiet residential streets to city traffic on the highway.
Check to see that the vehicle starts immediately and idles smoothly, that the transmission shifts smoothly throughout the entire range of gears, and that the brakes should feel firm and not spongy. The steering should be smooth and responsive at different speeds. Listen for any unusual rattles or other noises. Does the vehicle vibrate at highway speeds? Get a friend to drive behind you to see if blue smoke comes out of the exhaust. This is a sign that you are burning oil, indicating leaky gaskets and a potential need for an engine overhaul.
In order for this to be the right car, you have to feel comfortable in it. Ask yourself if you could drive it easily in traffic, and not be intimidated by its size or performance. Make sure the seat and steering wheel can be adjusted so that they fit you, and that you can easily reach all of the controls, including radio and climate controls. Check the sightlines and the rearview mirrors. Are you comfortable with your views? Are the blind spots of reasonable size? If you buy a car in which you don’t feel comfortable, you will soon hate your purchase.
Try out the climate control and audio systems. Does the fan work and is the air conditioning effective? What is the quality of the audio system like? Consider taking a CD with you so that you’re not reliant on the radio to test the audio system.
When buying a car from a dealership, the salesman will often want to accompany you on a test drive. It is better to try to take the test drive without a salesperson, as you can then concentrate on the feel of the car and not the sales pitch. If you appear to be a serious buyer, the salesperson will generally allow you to take the car out without them, unless you’re young. In that case, consider taking a parent or older adult with you in order to convince the salesperson to let you take the car out without them.
The test drive should confirm whether a car that you thought was suitable before actually is. Try not to let it become a chance for a salesman to continue his pitch while you are distracted by the feel of a new vehicle.