How to Make the Most of Your Test Drive

Test Drive

Pay Attention to the (Test Drive Experience)

You can read all about a vehicle’s features from the online and printed brochures. When you get behind the wheel, your primary focus should be on making sure you’re comfortable driving that vehicle.

Pay attention to your physical comfort in the driver’s seat, as well as your sight lines and general comfort navigating in traffic. If you’re purchasing a vehicle that is a different size from vehicles you have driven in the past, you may need to get acclimated to being in a different driving position than before. Use the test drive to consider whether you will be able to adapt to this change.

You should also pay attention to the different features in the vehicle and whether they are supporting your driving experience. This can include safety features, assisted driving features, cruise control, dashboard video screens, rear-view cameras, and other onboard features and technology designed to improve your driving experience and even help you avoid an accident.

Bring a Passenger

As the potential buyer, you are the best and most important judge of the vehicle you are test-driving. But a friend or family member may be a great source of support as you evaluate the vehicle, too.

See if you can bring someone who is willing to ask tough questions, and who will give honest feedback about their own riding experience. With two heads evaluating the vehicle instead of one, you can get more out of this test drive, and exit the vehicle with even greater certainty that you have all the information you need to make a decision.

Try to (Test Drive the Car Without a Salesman)

While some salesman may try to join you for a test drive, see if you can take the vehicle out on the road by yourself. A salesman can be very disruptive to your test drive, interrupting you to insert their own selling points, rather than giving you space to consider your driving experience and whether you would be happy owning the vehicle.

The presence of a salesperson may also make it more difficult for you to speak and think candidly about the vehicle—especially if you’ve brought along a passenger to help discuss and evaluate the driving experience. By leaving the salesperson at the dealership, you’ll have less disruptions and distractions to fully consider the vehicle on your own terms.

The Ultimate (Test Drive Checklist)

Ready to hit the road in a vehicle you’re thinking about buying? To make sure you cover all your bases, we’ve created a handy new or (used car test-drive checklist) to reference as you prepare to take that vehicle for a ride:

  • Don’t leave your driver’s license at home. Dealerships won’t let you drive the car if they don’t have your driver’s license in their hands when handing you the keys.
  • Schedule your test drive during the day. You’ll notice imperfections, inside and out, more easily in bright light.
  • Drive the vehicle on a wide range of roads. From residential roads to freeways, see how your driving experience differs in these settings.
  • Try out different driving maneuvers, including changing lanes and parallel parking. Think about how you will be using your vehicle, and test these different actions to make sure you’re comfortable in any driving scenario.
  • Sit in different seats in the vehicle. Verify that passengers will be comfortable throughout your vehicle.
  • Try out every button and feature. Faulty buttons or features may need to get repaired prior to purchase, or they could be a source of bargaining leverage.
  • Test the vehicle’s acceleration and braking. How powerful is the engine? How responsive are the brakes?
  • Take your time. Don’t let the dealership pressure you into bringing the vehicle back quickly. This is your opportunity to gather important information as you make your decision, so don’t end your new or (used car test drive) until you’ve finished checking everything out.

Ready to get behind the wheel? Discover your local options by typing “(test drive cars near me)” into a search engine, or visit local dealerships directly to check out their inventory and pick out vehicles you want to test out on the open road.