Most people probably just think of test driving a car as a fun way to try out some new vehicles and see how they feel. But test driving a car is more about how comfortable the front seat is or how you look in the rearview mirror; there are a lot of technical aspects that you should really be keeping in mind when you’re test driving a new car. The following is a list of the essential things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a new vehicle.
Research BEFORE you head to the lot
Never walk onto the car lot unprepared. It’s very easy to get swept up in the rush of buying a new car, especially if you’re dealing with a savvy salesperson. The more research you do beforehand, the better prepared you will be to put your foot down about your car options. Before you go, you should research the model or models you’re interested in; what options are available and what options you are interested in, as well as the typical asking price for the vehicle currently. Thankfully, most of this information is relatively easy to find, as long as you take a few minutes before your trip to look it up.
Check out the practical aspects of the car before driving
Owning a car is about much more than what happens after you turn the key in the ignition. There are many day-to-day actions you’ll be taking with your car that are often overlooked on a test drive. Before you start your test drive, check the car both inside and out, and consider factors such as:
- Difficulty of opening and closing the trunk
- Amount of space in the trunk and how easy it will be to load/unload items such as groceries
- Size and placement of cup holders and interior storage
- Difficulty and general weight of opening front, passenger and back doors
- Number and placement of airbags
- Ability to store items such as phone/GPS holders within safe and reasonable each
- Quality of seat upholstery, sun visors, etc.
If you have children, you should ideally bring them along for the test drive so that they (and you) can get a better idea of how comfortable and convenient the rear passenger seats are; you will also be able to see how difficult (or easy) it will be to install your child’s car seat.
Create a checklist of everything you need
Testing out a new car can be very overwhelming, even if you’ve done your research. If you create a checklist of what you’re looking for in a vehicle and/or questions you want to ask the dealer about the car, then you won’t have to worry about forgetting something important. Checklists are especially great for minor factors that you’ll probably forget about once you start the test drive.
And one final note about test drives: while it’s very tempting, don’t buy a car on the same day that you test drive it. Test driving should be the last step towards making your decision about what car to purchase, but you should give yourself time to consider everything you learned before and during your test drive before taking that final purchase plunge.