How to Test Drive a Car

test driving car

Congratulations, you’re finally ready to purchase your first car. This is a monumental milestone in a young person’s life, and you should be very excited. However, it’s important to not let your excitement cloud your thinking. Other than buying a house one day, a car will likely be one of the biggest purchases you ever make. You should always think things through before making your final decision.

Do Your Research

Whether you are going to be buying a new or used car, you need to do your research before you arrive on the lot. It’s a good idea to narrow your options down to a few makes and models so you will have something to choose from. This is especially true if you plan on buying a used car, since you won’t really know what is available until you’re there. If you plan on buying new, give yourself a couple of choices between the current available cars. A car could look great on paper, but it won’t necessarily be great for you.

Pay Attention

While you’re driving the car, listen for any strange sounds, vibrations or other indicators that something might be off. This is especially important if you’re test driving a used car. Shut the radio off and pay attention to all of the small details. You might catch something that would later cost you a lot of money in repairs.

Practice Real-Life Driving

Taking the car around the block at 25 miles per hour isn’t going to help you very much, but unless you ask, that might be the extent of your test drive. Ask your dealer if you can take the car on the freeway or even a country road. You need to see how the car will operate in different real-life situations if you’re going to determine if it’s right for you.

Test Out All The Important Motions

Pay attention to how the car responds to your movements. You can get a feel for the turn ratio by taking it down a quiet street and performing a three-point turn. It’s also a good idea to test the brakes by coming to a quick halt and seeing how the car handles a few sharp turns. Just be sure to let the dealer know you’re going to attempt these moves ahead of time!

Check The Doors and Compartments

If you’re buying used, you will want to check out the function of all the doors and compartments. The trunk, hood, doors, gas tank and glove compartment should all open with ease. If any of the hinges creak or are difficult to move, it may indicate that a repair will be needed in the near future.

Make Sure You’re Comfortable

If you don’t have plenty of head and leg room, can’t get in and out of the car easily or can’t comfortably view the mirrors from a seated position, you’re probably in the wrong vehicle. There will be times that you need to drive your car for hours. If you’re even slightly uncomfortable after a short test drive, move on.

Trust Your Gut

If you have done all your research, and you feel happy and comfortable while driving the car, it’s time to make your decision. Buying a car is a huge move, but most people don’t regret the choice they make. As long as you prepared ahead of time, you will likely go home with the car of your dreams and continue to drive happy for many years to come.