The Ultimate Checklist for a New Car Test Drive

The Ultimate Checklist for a New Car Test Drive Investing in a new car is a quite serious thing and experience. No matter if you are browsing the second-hand vehicle market, or you are checking out the offers available for a brand-new car, you definitely want to go through a thorough test-drive once you narrow down your options and before making the big commitment of a purchase. This is why you wouldn’t like to make such an investment without allowing yourself enough time to make a thorough research and make the best final decision. On average, your new vehicle will stick with you for at least a few years so you definitely do not want to regret your choice.

So whenever you are planning and considering to buy a new car, you should definitely be prepared for the helpful steps you can ensure you make during the most important encounter – the test-drive! In fact, the more prepared you are, the more beneficial the test-drive will be for you and the easier it will be for you to make the right decision. So today we continue with this helpful and thorough checklist that can make a big difference for you during the test-drive process and prepare you for different situations.

Today’s article will navigate and guide you through the detailed and useful process of test-driving so make sure to go through all the steps and you are guaranteed that you are well-prepared for the actual purchase.

Prepare yourself
While you are still home and about to experience a test-drive of a vehicle you have in mind as a serious contender. Make sure to take your time to consider realistically what you want. What compromises you can make. What trade-off you may be willing to make, etc. You can start with the more simple and obvious things like the design of the car. The colour you desire, some additions and extras, etc. Consider what are the special features you really want to have and those you can compromise with. If you haven’t by now, make sure to take your time and research to learn more about the main car terms and technologies, engine features, etc.

Reach for the top
Next, you can call the sales managers of all dealers in your area or locate conveniently enough, both if you are planning to buy a used car or a new vehicle. You can check out if they can offer you the car you want. You can also browse the Internet and check out what are your options. Continue with arranging test-drive appointments at the dealerships you would like to visit.

Don’t forget the photocopies
Make sure you bring with you photocopies of your driver’s license, proof of insurance, etc. Those documents are required if you are planning to start negotiations, negotiate the price of the vehicle or your financing options, etc.

You are the boss
Remember that, after all, you are the boss in this situation and it is about what you want and what you will invest your money into. The salesman is the one who is working for you. So if the salesman looks distracted for some reason, you don’t feel them like being helpful enough, or they just try to rush you to make a quick deal, do not hesitate to walk away. If the deal is what you want, make sure to ask for another arrangement with another salesman and explain why. If this is not the best deal available, remember, there is nothing to worry about and there is plenty of fish in the sea.

Don’t talk trade-in
There is no doubt that the salesman will ask you if you have a trade-in. The best and most convenient way to get away with giving an answer is telling them that you have not made that decision yet. Some dealerships may ask for your keys and want to evaluate your car while you are test-driving the new one. Make sure you don’t allow that happening.

Avoid getting trapped
As it is with giving your keys, make sure you are not giving your original driver’s license and left a copy only. In this case, once the test-drive is over you are free to shape hands and walk away instead of waiting for someone to “find” your keys and driver’s license.

Drive what you want
Always make sure to test-drive the exact car model you are planning to buy or something as close as possible that is available at the moment. Otherwise, you risk changing over your decision on an emotional basis just because you like the car you are test-driving. However, just because you like a car it doesn’t mean you need it so try to stick to your initial plan and decision. In addition, test-driving the same or a similar car model to what you actually want will give you the best idea of how the vehicle is performing.

Get a demonstration
Before starting the test-drive you can ask the salesman to demonstrate all the features of the car you are interested in.

Check under the hood
Make sure to ask the salesman to show you the oil dipstick and where oil is added. Consider if the battery is easily accessible.

Locate the spare
Things to consider with the spare tire include: is it a doughnut or a full tire; is it easily accessible; do you think that you can easily operate the jack?

Check out cargo space
Another important feature of the vehicle is its cargo space you would like to size up and have at least a general idea of the size. Check out if the trunk if large enough and properly configured for any special needs and requirements you may have.

Try all seating positions
In addition to the driver’s place and its comfort, you have to make sure if the rest of the seating spaces are comfortable enough for the passengers. It is a great opportunity to check and test the passenger’s seats when the salesman is accompanying you during the test drive because of the insurance requirements. Do not miss to check the backseat too.

Test the in and out
One important point that many people tend to neglect or forget about during the test-drive is if the vehicle is easy to enter and leave without hitting your head or any other discomfort.

Get behind the wheel
Make sure you can find a comfortable position. You have to comfortably reach to the pedals and the steering wheel. There must be enough headroom and all of the controls should be of easy reach.

Get out and about
If you are restricted and limited to just test-driving the vehicle around the block, it is definitely not enough and you should be allowed to drive more than that. It is highly recommended if you can actually test the motor in the same environments in which you usually drive.

Explain the driving course
If the area where the test-drive will happen is not something you are familiar with, we recommend you initially explaining to the salesman the types of driving you want and ask them where to go to experience an environment similar to what you are used to. Remember, the minimum of time you are allowed for a test-drive is at least half an hour, so if you are declined to use as much time as you need, simply ask for another salesperson with more time available or walk away.

Check the sound
Turn off the audio system so you can better listen to the sounds you will experience while driving. Judge and consider the outside noise seeping into the passenger compartment. Make sure the noise is not excessive, but unless it is not a very expensive and luxurious car, keep in mind that there will be a certain level of noise.

The smoothness of the ride
Consider the smoothness of the ride too. Does the suspension absorb the minor bumps without feeling like a rollercoaster?

Do not forget to check the visibility from the driver’s seat. You have to have a clear view of all the traffic and environment around you and nothing should limit your visibility.

Step on it
Stop-and-go-traffic is a good way to understand how the car is keeping up with other cars. Consider the main things as how much runway does it require to merge onto the expressway or pass another vehicle at speed. You have to feel comfortable and safe when doing all these manoeuvres.

If the vehicle of your choice has an automatic transmission you have to check out the smoothness of upshifts and downshifts. If it comes to a manual transmission you have to make sure that the gearbox is smoothly moving its pattern.

Steering wheel
Another important feature to consider is the steering wheel and how comfortable it feels controlling it. Make sure the steering is responsive and that the car is keeping straight and no wandering when the steering wheel is held in its centre position.

The vehicle also has to feel stable when cornering and manoeuvring.

You should check how comfortable you feel with the size of the car when parking. Try to find a tighter and more challenging parking spot on the street and parallel park the motor. In this case, you should clearly see or judge where the corners of the car are and how easy it is to fit it in a normal parking space.

The brakes
Finally, test the brakes. The brakes should stop the car smoothly enough. The breaking line should be controlled and straight-line.
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