Driving With a Purpose: 9 Tips When You Test Drive a Car

Shopping for a new car can be stressful.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In 2018, more than 17 million new vehicles were sold in the US. That figure doesn’t even include the millions of pre-owned vehicles sold across the country.

For an enjoyable, stress-free car shopping experience, you just need to know what you’re looking for and take a little time to check out the vehicles you’re interested in. Working with the right dealer doesn’t hurt either!

If the thought of car shopping has you feeling a little anxious, read on for a few tips to help you navigate the test drive and your car shopping experience.

Before You Test Drive: Know What You Want

Before you head to the dealership, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and what type of car is best for you.

You don’t necessarily need to know the exact make and model you’d like to drive, but you should know what type of car you’d like to purchase.

If you have kids, a small SUV or minivan is probably much more practical than a sporty coupe or single cab pickup truck. Think about your lifestyle, needs, and what types of vehicles might best fit those needs.

Then you can work with a salesperson to find the right model for your needs.

Know Your Commute

Another important thing to consider before you jump behind the wheel and start test driving cars is how and where you’ll be driving the vehicle.

For many drivers, the daily commute is one of the most important considerations when looking at a new vehicle. Make sure the car you’re looking at will meet your daily demands driving to and from work.

Don’t Forget About Fuel Efficiency

Gas mileage is another major factor to consider when looking at a new car.

With gas prices near all-time highs, and showing no sign of falling to more comfortable levels, make sure you’re okay with the estimated mileage of the vehicle you’re looking at.

Take a Walk Around

Once you’re on the lot and have picked out a car or two that meet your requirements, it’s time to take a few minutes to look the vehicle over.

Most new vehicles don’t require much inspection. They are new after all and have likely only been on the lot for a few days or weeks at most. Used cars can be a different story though.

Even if the car has gone through a rigorous, multi-point inspection at the dealer, take a few minutes to thoroughly look over the vehicle’s exterior. Make sure the paint and body are in good condition for the price of the vehicle and that the tires have an acceptable level of wear.

Ask your salesperson about the vehicle’s history and condition too.

Consider Your Cargo (and Passengers)

Once you’ve checked out the exterior of the car, move to the inside.

Before you plop down in the driver’s seat, take some time to check out the other seating and the trunk or cargo area. Check for rips, tears, stains, or other damage.

Check out the available space too. Make sure your friends or kids will be comfortable in the passenger seating and that there is enough cargo space.

If you’re a cyclist, kayaker, or other outdoorsy type, make sure there’s space inside the vehicle or an adequate roof rack (or that you can add one).

Are You Comfortable?

After you’ve given the rest of the interior a once-over, it’s time to move on to the driver’s seat. Make sure the seat is comfortable for you and that you can properly adjust the mirrors, steering wheel, or other necessities to your height and reach.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you can comfortably see out of the vehicle. Some cars just don’t have great visibility and make it particularly tough for smaller drivers to see their surroundings on the road.

Be sure that you’re comfortable in the cockpit.

Check the Tech

Technology — from entertainment systems to navigation — is an increasingly important feature in cars and trucks.

And the truth is, the technology features in many vehicles have gotten really good. But not all vehicle tech is equal.

When you test drive a car, it’s very important to pay close attention to the technology features. Get a good idea of how everything works and make sure you understand all the features.

There’s nothing worse than driving off in a new car only to realize that it doesn’t sync with your phone. Be sure to ask your salesperson how all the technology features work and that they meet your needs.

Get Adjusted

Most modern cars and trucks are very adjustable. Seats move in several directions, steering wheels tilt and telescope, mirrors move, and even the pedals adjust in some vehicles.

These adjustments make it easy for drivers of all shapes and sizes to get the right fit in the vehicle.

Before you pull off the lot for a test drive, make sure you get everything adjusted just the way you like and that you can get a good fit in the vehicle.

Drive the Car!

Once you’ve looked everything over and adjusted the vehicle to your liking, it’s time to drive.

When you’re out on the road, make sure you take the vehicle through a variety of different situations. Try to drive the car in both regular traffic and out on the highway.

Pay close attention to how the car handles at high and low speeds. Are you comfortable driving it? Can you see yourself driving it every day?

Take your time on the test drive and really get a feel for the vehicle.

Your Turn

After you test drive the vehicle, be sure to ask your salesperson any other questions you can think of.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the vehicle and how it works and handles, it’s time to decide whether you should test drive another or move forward. looking at a few different models can often help you narrow down your choices.

Ready to test drive your next car or truck? Get in touch with us today!

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