What to look for when test driving a car

By Peter Johnson

Taking a car out for a test drive is essential before buying any new or used car. Don’t let that new car smell fool you, not every new car is the right one for you. Use this test drive checklist before your next test drive.

Before the test drive ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the vehicle look attractive to you?
  • Is it available in a colour you like?
  • Is the vehicle easy to get into?
  • Does the interior come in a colour you like?
  • Is their enough headroom, legroom, etc. when the seat and steering wheel are properly adjusted? Sit in the front and the back.
  • Are the gauges easy to read?

Once you are ready to hit the road, answer these questions as you are driving.

  • Is the engine as quiet and smooth as you expected?
  • Does the steering have a nice feel to it?
  • Does the vehicle have adequate power for acceleration? How about with the A/C on?
  • Does the vehicle handle well?
  • How are the brakes? Does the vehicle stop safely? Try the vehicle on a variety of roads, including the highway.
  • Does the suspension absorb road irregularities well? Is it too soft or too hard?
  • Are the interior noise levels okay on the highway? Listen for the engine, wind and road noise.
  • Try all of the accessories including the radio, heater, A/C, and power features to ensure that they operate to your liking.

Once back to the dealership, try to do the following

  • Try parking the vehicle. Does it have any blind spots?
  • Walk around the vehicle with the engine running. How does it sound? Also, take a look at the engine while it’s running. Does everything seem in good order?
  • Check the trunk. Is it large enough? Is the trunk opening large enough for balky items? Do the rear seats fold down?

A great way to test drive a new car is to check if you could rent one from a rental company. This has two benefits. First, you can drive the vehicle for a longer period of time. Second, you can see how it has held up with a few thousand miles already on it.

Write down what you would like to look for before you test drive a new car. With all the excitement you may forget to look for something that is of interest to you. Test drive the competition as well. This will help you determine how well the vehicle you are interested in compares with its closest competitors.

Come prepared and you’ll enjoy the experience and learn from it.

About the author:
Peter Johnson is the chief writer forĀ all-about-car-selection.com