10 Tips for Test Driving Your Next Car


The test drive is an important part of any car-buying experience…so make sure to do it right the first time. Here’s how to get the most out of any test drive.

#1) Do Your Research Beforehand

Before you walk into the dealership to try out the car, read up on it. What do people say about it? What do people like about it? Are there any little quirks or other oddities you need to be aware of before getting behind the wheel? Knowing these before you step in will really help make the drive that much smoother.

#2) Bring All The Drivers in Your House With You

If your spouse or your teenager will be driving the car on a regular basis, bring them along. They should at the very least have a look at the car and ride with you to get a sense of it, so they can offer some feedback.

#3) Test Drive the Car Most Similar to the One You Want

Don’t just drive any version of the car; make sure you’re test driving one with all the options you want and all the tools you need before you turn the key. Small options can make a big, big difference in the test driving experience.

#4) Look Over the Car Before You Get In

Try to get a sense of whether the car will fit your lifestyle. Is there enough room in the trunk for the groceries you’re going to be hauling? Will the kids be comfortable in the back? Will there be room for your sports gear or other stuff you haul around a lot?

#5) Get Situated and Get Familiar Before Starting

Get familiar with the controls, tweak the mirrors, adjust the seat…in other words, give the car a chance to impress you, or not, with how it suits you before you drive it.

#6) Get a Sense of the Comfort of the Controls

Is it easy to, say, use the turn signal, or flip on the wipers, or is it hard to get it to do exactly what you want to do? Experiment with the controls while you’re still on the lot; play with the different functions and see how comfortable they are. It’s especially important to ensure you can hit the controls without looking at them.

#7) Drive In An Area You’re Comfortable With

If necessary, drive around the test drive area in your car beforehand, so you know what the roads will be like.

#8) Feel Free to Push the Car a Little

Get a sense of how it accelerates, how it brakes, how it handles turns, and so on. Get a sense of how it handles overall, not just in ideal situations or in quiet suburban traffic.

#9) Don’t Let the Salesman Dictate the Drive

Of course, you do have to listen to him; technically, he represents the guy who actually owns the car until you buy it. But don’t let him push you into a test drive routine you’re not comfortable with. And if he doesn’t want you to do something, be sure to ask him why not.

#10) Never Buy Based on a Test Drive

A test drive doesn’t tell you how the car will work long-term. Think about what you liked and disliked before you buy, and compare notes with your family on it.

After you’ve taken the plunge, don’t forget to notify your auto insurance company about the new vehicle. Since it’s likely to have all the latest and greatest safety features, you may even notice a reduction in your insurance rates. Now that’s a win-win.

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