Test driving a car is a crucial part of the car buying process. It is a chance for you to make sure that it feels right for you and your driving needs. Buying a new car is exciting and it can be quite easy to forget your head, so it's important to not get carried away. Before reaching a decision and making a decision you might otherwise regret, make sure you test drive the car to ensure that you feel comfortable and enjoy driving it.
Here are our top tips for getting the most out of a test drive:
1. Size matters
If you're buying a family car, is it big enough? It may be worth taking everybody along with you as it's not just you who'll be using the car as this will help to determine whether everyone has enough space. You may think you'll be able to choose the right car on your own, however, it's good to see what the family thinks and hear any objections they may have before you buy.
2. Inside the car
Once inside the car, consciously spend a few minutes ensuring that you are comfortable, your mirrors are adjusted, and that you're familiar with the major controls. When you're happy, start the engine and keep an eye out for any smoke and adjust the steering wheel and listen for any unusual rattles or clunks in the suspension.
Gadgets are very important. Car technology is amazing, however, it can be very costly if something goes wrong. Air conditioning, is it blowing cold? A satellite navigation or Bluetooth connectivity, do they work as they should? You need to find out if the car is useable.
4. Driving like there's no tomorrow
Does the car accelerate smoothly and brake effectively? Make sure that while you're driving you're continually listening for any strange noises or vibrations. Check that you can engage all gears smoothly without difficulty. Your test drive should match your driving requirements. For example, if you regularly drive into the mountains, find a hill and see how the car climbs.
5. Check for faults
When buying a used or a nearly new car, it's important to pay very close attention. While the car is parked, walk around the car, look for any chips or excessive body wear. Even if you're buying from a main dealer, be vigilant as new cars can sometimes pick up minor damage so keep an eye out for any knocks and bangs.
6. Take it for a spin around the car park
More often than not, every journey begins and ends in the car park so there's no point in buying a car that you find difficult to park. It's important to check that you're happy with the size of the car and that you find it easy to maneuver.
7. Try before you buy
Even if you like the car, don't just settle for one test drive. Try and drive a few different cars on the same day. In doing this, you'll be able to make a better comparison. If you're narrowing the choices down, you can always test drive the same car again against another.
8. Stay level-headed
Don't let yourself be pressured into buying a car by sales staff. and don't be afraid to ask for a second test drive if you feel like you're still not sure. If you've decided on a car, it may still be worth taking some time to think it over. There's no point in rushing into making a decision. Take your time and make sure the car is perfect for you.