You’re ready to buy or lease a new or pre-owned car, but first, you have to take the vehicle for a test drive. While test drives may sound a little overwhelming, they don’t have to be. With our four test drive tips, you’ll have a successful experience every time.
Test Drive Tips
Make your own route
Before you head to the dealership, make your own driving route to test the car, truck, or SUV on a variety of road surfaces. You’ll be driving this vehicle every day, so why not give it a real-world examination?
Examine the exterior
Whether you’re looking to go the new or pre-owned vehicle route, walking around to inspect the vehicle allows you to spot any issues. Take a look at the body to see if there are any dents, dings, scratches, or if the paint is less than shiny.
Do the tires have proper tread or need to be replaced? You can even press down on the car’s four bumper corners to test the shock absorbers. You want little to no bounce after pressing down.
Make notes of anything you find, so you can bring them up to to the salesperson later.
Check out the cabin
Now it’s time to climb into the car. By settling into the driver’s seat and adjusting it to your preferences, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what it’ll be like to drive the car. Can you comfortably reach the features on the center stack, see out of the windows, and reach the steering wheel?
Take the time now to test any and all features inside the car, including the audio system, power moonroof, windows, lights and turn signals, and electronic amenities. If you have small children, install any and all car or booster seats to ensure they’ll fit comfortably inside the vehicle.
Hit the open road
Now that you’re happy with the interior and exterior of the vehicle, it’s time to see how it performs. With your pre-mapped route, head out for a drive of at least 30 minutes covering city streets, backroads, and the highway. When you drive on the highway, try to cover at least 10 miles at highway speeds, so you can be aware of any issues shifting while accelerating or drifting in the steering.
If you bring a friend along for the test drive experience, they can chat with the salesperson while you focus on the car’s performance and listen for any mechanical noises. They can also provide you with a third-party opinion about how it drives or how it feels to ride in.