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How to Test Drive a New Car

A test drive is a crucial part of the car buying process. On paper, a car may appear perfect for you but once you take it for a drive, you may feel entirely unconvinced. With this in mind, here are some tips to make the most out of your test driving experience.

Research First

When you visit a car dealership, you should already have researched what models of cars you’d like to test drive. It’s important to test drive the exact model and spec of car that you’re looking for as changes in engine size can greatly alter the feel of the car. Try to test drive your shortlist of cars on the same day so that you can make a clear comparison. You should also consider bringing a member of family or a friend with you to offer a second opinion and to point out features you may overlook.

Exteriors and Interiors

Although your first thought will be to hop in the car and start the ignition, it’s important to take a look at the interior and exterior of the car first. Is the car big enough to meet your needs? Are the primary controls laid out to suit your driving needs? Are the interiors finished to your required standard? It’s a good idea to create a checklist of some of the features which are important to you when buying a new car and take the list with you on the day of the test drive. Here are some new car safety features which you can keep a look out for. Before starting the car, you can ask the salesperson to go through these features with you.

The Test Drive

Spend a few minutes familiarising yourself with the car and adjusting the seat and mirrors to make sure you’re comfortable. When driving, take notice of some of the key features such as:

  1. Smooth acceleration

  2. Effective braking

  3. Fluid gear changes

  4. Clear visibility from the rear window and mirrors

  5. Electric features (bluetooth, air conditioning, sat nav, park assist etc)

  6. Easy to read gauges and display screens

It’s always a good idea to try and take the car overnight so that you can test the car on different road surfaces and to inspect the lights at nighttime. If the car dealership doesn’t offer this option or the option of a test drive alone, make sure the salesperson doesn’t act as a distraction during your test drive. Don’t be pushed into a quick drive around the forecourt and don’t be afraid to ask for some quiet while you get a feel for the car.

Take Your Time

Even if you’ve decided that this is the car for you, it’s still worth taking some time to think it over. It’s also important to go through this process with the rest of the cars on your shortlist so that you can find the car best suited for your needs. When buying from a car dealership, remember that the salesperson is there to answer any questions or concerns you may have, so don’t be afraid of asking too many. Don’t hesitate to ask for a second test drive if you’re still not sure too.


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