Whether you’ve chosen to buy new or used, an essential aspect of the buying process is the test drive. Sometimes, though, a quick drive around the block isn’t enough to determine if the vehicle is right for you or not. With the seller or salesperson by your side and a slower speed limit you must obey, it’s a challenge to know if you’re making the right decision on the vehicle. In most cases, it’s not enough to drive 30 mph through town and know if the car is suitable for you. However, there are a few things you can do to make sure that you have a decent test drive.
Know as much about the vehicle you’re considering and write down the most important facts or things to check. That way, when you’re on the lot or at the home of the seller, you have a list to refer to, ensuring that you ask all the right questions.
Go with a Friend
It can be helpful to bring a family member or friend with you (and one who knows a thing or two about cars can be highly beneficial). That way, two different sets of eyes are looking at the car and its features. They could notice something you missed or can give you an opinion about the vehicle.
The friend can also keep the seller busy, allowing you to perform a more thorough inspection of the car without someone peering over your shoulder or trying to get your attention so that you overlook something.
If you like two different vehicles and can’t make up your mind as to which one you’d like to test, it might be a good idea to drive both on the same day if at all possible. When you drive one soon after driving the first, it helps you compare them both and see how each one runs and works.
Before getting behind the wheel, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the vehicle. Give it a quick inspection. Make sure you open the doors and get into the backseat. Open the trunk to see if there is a spare wheel (and how easy it is to utilize). Fold down the seating, check that the windows roll down, check the storage compartments, and try out the radio/entertainment system.
It might seem a little time-consuming, but you want to make sure all aspects of the car work correctly. If it doesn’t have a spare, you may be able to negotiate a lower price. If the windows don’t work, you may want to consider a similar make/model elsewhere.
Know the Route
It can be helpful to drive around the location a bit in your current vehicle (or have your friend do so if you got a ride). You need to know the area a little so that you know which route is best. If you cannot drive the route before the test drive, consider using a map app on your phone to see what areas are nearby. You should look for roads that have a low speed limit and a higher one. If possible, ask if you can take the freeway for an exit to get an idea of various speeds.
It’s also important that you feel how the vehicle takes curves, makes right- and left-hand turns, and stops and goes (stop signs and lights). While you may feel awkward asking, you might want to ask the salesperson or owner if you can come back and drive it again at night. You’d be surprised how different it is driving a different car in the dark!