You should never buy a car—new or used—without test driving it first. There are several reasons for this. Test driving can help you to identify any potential issues with the vehicle, something that’s especially important for used cars. Additionally, a test drive can confirm that you like the feel and handling of the car—not just that it’s a solid and reliable vehicle, but that it’s the right choice for you and your family.
But there’s more to test driving than simply jumping behind the wheel. Before you take any vehicle out for a spin, keep these tips in mind.
How to Test Drive Effectively
- Call the dealership in advance and make an appointment to test drive a particular vehicle. That way, they’ll have it all ready for you when you arrive, and you won’t have to wait around for them to locate the right vehicle.
- If you live close to the dealership, ask them to drive it to you, which can save you a trip. Not all dealerships offer this service, but it’s worth asking about.
- Take your car to a mall or shopping center to test any parking features, such as blind-spot monitoring. This is the best place to put these features through their paces.
- If you have kids, bring them—and their car seats—along for the ride. See how the car fares as a family vehicle.
- Be on the lookout for any signs of flooding or water damage, including lingering odors or new rubber on the brake and gas pedals.
- Pull the steering wheel all the way to either side and look to see if there are any signs of uneven wear—another red flag, particularly with used vehicles.
- Also pay attention to the check engine, air bag, and SRS lights on the dashboard. If they fail to illuminate when you start the engine, or if they fail to turn off after a second or two, that’s another warning sign.
- Pay attention to how the car feels. If you don’t find the ride to be smooth and comfortable, that’s reason enough to look elsewhere.
- Also pay attention to how it sounds, and in particular to any moaning, scraping, or grinding sounds as you brake—yet another major red flag!
Be Smart in Your Next Used Car Purchase
Of course there are plenty of other steps you can take to ensure a wise purchase, including asking for a full vehicle history report. Never skip over the test drive, though, no matter how good you feel about the car or truck in question.
One more tip? Make sure you schedule your test drive at a reputable local dealership. We’d love to connect you with one. Reach out to Get My Auto today to start the process.