The Importance of Test Driving
Imagine going shopping for a whole new wardrobe and not trying on a single thing. That probably wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense, right? And you’d be taking a gamble with your money before you knew whether or not the clothes you just bought will fit you the way that you want them to. The same logic can be said about buying a new car. Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to take it out on the road to determine if it truly fits your needs.
As Edmunds.com points out, the test drive comes after you do your initial research, learning what you can from safety test ratings and road tests. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, then it’s time to head to the dealership to kick the tires. Here are some things to keep an eye on during your test drive.
Considering how much time the average American spends inside their vehicle, it’s pretty important to make sure that it’s a comfortable ride. Dealer Judi Tilton of Schumacher Chevrolet and Gearhart Chevrolet points out, “You’re not buying a hair dryer, you’re buying something that’s very valuable. You want to be comfortable in it for years to come.”
Before you even turn the key, you can quickly assess whether or not the interior is just what you want. Pay attention to the following:
- Is it easy to get in and out of the vehicle?
- How does the seat feel? Are you able to find a comfortable position?
- Does the car suit your body type?
- Can you easily see all your mirrors and gauges? Are there any obstructions that make it difficult for you to see?
- Are there enough seats to comfortably fit your family?
Another consideration is the size of the trunk. Make sure you have enough room to suit your daily needs. If you have a larger family, you may have lots of items that you need to lug around, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
The feel of a car on the road and your ability to maneuver with ease is just as important as how comfortable you are in the seat. When you get behind the wheel and head out, make sure that you do your best to replicate your daily driving experience. For instance, if you spend a lot of time on the freeway, take the new vehicle on the freeway to get a sense of how it will perform.
Here are some additional things to pay particular attention to:
- How smoothly does the car ride?
- Is it a quiet ride or is road noise an issue?
- Does the car respond quickly when you steer?
- Are you comfortable with how quickly the car accelerates when merging into traffic?
- When you brake, is it jerky or smooth?
Bankrate.com offers a comprehensive 25-point checklist that may be very helpful when gearing up to go into the dealership.
Once you’ve done all your research, gone to the dealership and conducted a thorough inspection of the vehicle’s features and drivability, it’s time to compare and decide. ConsumerReports.org recommends that you refrain from comparing the car you’re test driving with your current car, because chances are you can be overwhelmed with the many new features the newer vehicle will offer. Instead, test drive several models and compare them with one another.
Do you have test drive tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!