You’re ready to buy a new car and have decided this weekend is the weekend to start shopping. That invevitabley means visiting a dealership or two, dealing with car salesmen and taking a car or two out for a spin. Although test drives might seem easy enough to handle, there are a few things to keep in mind when you test drive a car. And, before you head to the dealership, do yourself a huge favor and research the make and models you’re interested in test driving on a reputable website like Cars.com.
First things first, of course a salesman looking to score a sale will want to tag along. And, truth be told, they probably do have a lot of useful information about the car that they could share with you along the way. It’s not rude to request going alone and dealerships allow this all the time. Simply make it clear to the salesman that you’d like to test drive the vehicle by yourself. He’ll take a copy of your driver’s license, add a temporary plate to the car and off you go to see how she feels on the road. Although enthusiastic salesmen mean well and will do whatever it takes to finalize the sale, having someone constantly talk to you either about the car or the weather while you’re test driving can be distracting, to say the least. You’re less likely to hear road noise or pay close attention to how the vehicle feels on the road.
As you’re driving, you’ll want to pay close attention to several different aspects of the car. Pay attention to the responsiveness of the braking system when you come to a stop or slow down. Check out the car’s handling by turning the steering wheel slightly, yet abruptly, left and right. Notice how the car feels when traveling on a rough patch of road which offers insight into its suspension. During your test drive, pull over into a large parking lot to check out any tech bells and whistles that might come with the car. If the car has an infotainment screen, don’t be afraid to push buttons and see how it works. Check out the backup camera if the car is equipped with one, steering wheel controls, audio system, navigation system, if it’s available, and any other features the car has.
When test driving a car, be alert, stay focused and drive safely. Don’t be afraid to request going it alone. The salesman will get over it. The only way of knowing if a car is the right choice for you is by seeing how it feels to get behind the wheel.