Test Driving 101

Ahhh, the test drive.

The awkward, intimidating and uncomfortable test drive.

With the right preparation and know how, it doesn’t have to be this way and this article will provide you with all the necessary knowledge and tips on how to take a test drive like a pro!

So you’ve researched, you’ve budgeted, you’ve planned, you’ve narrowed down your choices and now it’s time to get behind the wheel of all of the potential candidates.

Where do you start?

Well firstly, a good tip is to set aside a whole day just for test driving.

Even if you have made your decision on a vehicle already, it’s important to test drive a few of the competitors as well, just in case. You may be surprised by a car that impresses you or changes your mind.

Don’t purchase the car the same day that you test drive it, go home and consider all of your options. The intoxicating new car smell and the excitement of it all can lead to impulse buying, which we want to avoid!

Over 50% of people that test drive a new vehicle end up going ahead and purchasing it, the dealerships know this. If the salesperson starts telling you about their finance options or starts bothering you for a holding deposit while you’re test driving, politely as you can, tell them to shut up, so you can focus on the test drive and inform them that you’re still in the consideration stage.

Just because a car is new, doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The smallest feature of a car can make all the difference, so it’s crucial to test drive correctly and choose wisely.

Test driving correctly when choosing your new car will be the deciding factor between loving your car for years to come or soon to be dreaming of an upgrade.

Make sure you thoroughly test drive all of your options, a quick drive up and down the street in front of the dealership won’t cut it!

Really spend some time behind the wheel getting to know the vehicle, mimicking your daily driving habits and make sure you’re test driving the exact same model you are interested in buying.

Same model, same engine, same transmission, same specs, same everything.

Taking The Test Drive

Here’s a few things you can consider and do on your test drive:

  • Conduct a visual inspection before you go, checking for any damage prior to leaving the dealership.
  • Set up the seats and mirrors exactly how you normally would.
  • Consider the visibility while driving and parking, check for blind spots etc.
  • Take it over some speed bumps (slowly, as you normally would)
  • Bring a friend along, another set of eyes and ears to pick up on anything you might miss.
  • Drive it in some stop – start and congested traffic, change lanes, test out the anchors, indicators, mobility of the vehicle. This will really give you a feel for the car.
  • Take it out onto the highway or a motorway and see how it travels at higher speeds.
  • Drive it up hills, down hills, through roundabouts, through some tight corners, do a U-turn, test the turning circle, both directions if possible. Listening out for any knocks, clunks, screeches etc. 
  • Test out the different driving modes if applicable, if the vehicle has Sports, Comfort mode etc, try them out.
  • There is an incredible amount of tech in new cars now with features like lane change assist and collision detection becoming more and more common. Can your phone connect to the Bluetooth? What does all that beeping mean? Understand the tech.
  • Park it in your favourite shopping centre car park. Give front, reverse and parallel parking a try.
  • Mimic your school run if you have kids, even better, bring the car seat and your older kids along as they will give you some information regarding what it’s like sitting in the rear.
  • Climb in and out of the vehicle multiple times, sitting in every seat.
  • Ask the salesperson to drive for a while so you can experience what it’s like to be passenger. Front and back.
  • Practice throwing your shopping, golf clubs or a suitcase into the cargo area. Does the rear door open outwards or upwards, can you access it easily from your garage or work? Will your bike fit?
  • Drive the car with the stereo off, AC down and minimal chit chat, listening carefully to how the car sounds and the road noise.

If the salesperson is hesitant to let you spend too much time behind the wheel or is rushing you in anyway, than simply go elsewhere.

It’s a huge financial decision you are making and if they aren’t able to accommodate a decent test drive for you or respect your time to make an informed decision, than take your money to a dealership that will.

Your car buying experience is supposed to be an enjoyable one, if they are making it anything but, just leave.

The more time that you’re able to spend behind the wheel and get a good feel for the vehicle the better and some dealerships will even let you have the car overnight to really experience it and test it.

You can always write yourself a checklist of things to remember and think about when going for a test drive. 

If you’re reading this, you probably have a test drive coming up, so good luck. Be confident, enjoy it and use this knowledge to nail it.

Remember, as the buyer, YOU have the power. Don’t let them convince you otherwise.

If you’re in the market for a new car, get in touch now and let us help you save some money.

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