Test driving a car before buying it will provide you with valuable information. The investment it is, a car should have exactly what you need and want. And if you’re like most car buyers, you probably don’t know exactly what vehicle you want when you go to the dealership.

The test drive is an integral part of the car buying process. Don’t try on just one pair of shoes. Drive a few cars before deciding; but 55% of test drivers only drive one vehicle before buying it, a Cox Automotive survey found. Since cars have changed so much in the past few years, you want to get familiar with new technologies and features.

How to Test Drive a Car

There should be no stress or uncertainty with driving a car to test it out.

Research

You want to consider what cars are available, the model you want, and what options matter most. Pick a few vehicles and test drive them on the same day, so you can easily compare them. You should also:

  • Make a list of cars and features that interest you
  • Read reviews on consumer websites
  • Write a checklist to guide you during the test drive

Prepare for the Test Drive

Reserve one day just for test driving. To avoid an impulsive purchase, do not buy the vehicle on the same day. But always drive the model and trim level you plan on purchasing. It also helps to bring a friend along, who can point out anything you might overlook.

Acquaint Yourself with the Car

First, do a complete walk around. Does the car look as appealing as it did in photographs? Next, go inside, but don’t hit the throttle just yet. To continue your investigation:

  • Open and close the driver’s, front passenger’s, and rear doors to determine ease of entry/exit.
  • Examine the rear seats to assess comfort, adjustability, and if they fold to add storage.
  • Make sure you’re comfortable in the driver’s seat and can easily get in and out.
  • Check for airbags (and how many), adjustable seatbelts, and active safety technologies.
  • Look at the seat upholstery, sun visors, and shifter to asses overall build quality.
  • Determine the type of fuel the vehicle needs (premium/unleaded gasoline, diesel, etc.)
  • Let your children check out the back seat and available controls/amenities.

Go for a Drive

Your considerations when operating the vehicle should include:

  • The layout and ease of use of the primary controls.
  • Ease of reading gauges, readouts, and displays.
  • Effectiveness of the climate control system.
  • Ease of syncing an iPod/mobile device.
  • Stereo, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi quality.
  • Available room for storing gadgets and other items.
  • Function of the navigation system.

When driving, look for:

  • Brakes that are solid and responsive
  • Performance on turns and over rough surfaces
  • How easy/difficult it is to parallel park
  • Visibility from behind the wheel
  • The level of road noise in the cabin
  • How it handles on bumpy roads
  • How it responds on the highway

But don’t finalize your decision just yet. Ask about its maintenance schedule and oil change intervals, and the terms of the warranty. Repeat the same process for every vehicle. When you are ready, visit Cars 911 or call our sales team to ask about available inventory, financing, and test driving vehicles.