Smart Trier, Smart Buyer: How to Get the Most Out of a Test Drive

New car sales in the US are through the roof right now.

For instance, well over 17 million vehicles were sold in 2018 alone. Clearly, countless people around the country are splashing out for a new set of wheels.

However, choosing the right car is no easy feat.

It has to look and feel right! One person’s ideal vehicle is another’s worst nightmare. Equally, they’re never cheap. You sure as hell want to know it’s going to be worth the money.

Taking a test drive is one sure-fire way of making your mind up. There’s no replacement for actually getting behind the wheel and taking it for a spin.

That said, there are certain things to do to maximize the usefulness of it. After all, it can be hard to make a solid judgment from a single drive. Looking to get the most out of your next test drive?

Keep reading for 7 tips to help you do exactly that.

1. Research First and Book an Appointment

There are a couple of things to think about in terms of organizing the test drive itself.

First off, you want to research the vehicles you’re interested in buying.

This helps you narrow down the list of cars you actually want to try out. It’s about knowing what you want in advance. The drive itself is all about clarifying the decision.  

Likewise, you can guarantee the dealer is going to do all they can to persuade you to buy. They’ll say and do whatever possible to twist your arm. Arming yourself with knowledge protects you from any unscrupulous sales tactics.

Be sure to book your appointment with the dealer too. They’re busy people and their lots of packed full. Booking in advance saves both time and disappointment. Booking multiple test drives (aka in a few different cars) back to back is also a good idea.

It helps you compare the experiences. The last one is still fresh in your memory.

2. Inspect the Vehicle

Okay, let’s skip forward a bit.

You’re now at the dealership, ready to start the drive itself.

First thing’s first though, take your time to inspect the car. Give it a good looking over on the inside and outside. The photos may have been misleading. Think about the color, space inside, the features and gizmos…take stock of anything in terms of function and aesthetics that’s important to you.

For instance, the car may drive great. But if it looks awful, in a color you detest, then it isn’t the ideal vehicle for you.

3. Think Practically

It’s easy to get carried away at the show-room.

After all, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and you desperately want a new car. The temptation is to rush through the entire experience. Have you ever read a page of a book, only to realize you didn’t take any of it in? You have to start over.

The same can happen in a test drive. However, there may be no second chance.

When you’re satisfied with the visual audit, get into the vehicle. But before driving away, take a moment. Here’s a list of questions to ask yourself:

  1. How easy was it to get into and out of?
  2. How’s the legroom? Is there enough space?
  3. Does the seat feel comfortable?
  4. Are the buttons and control intuitive to understand?
  5. Is the car ergonomic, and well-designed?
  6. Can you see out properly, or is your vision impaired by obstructive pillars and blind spots?    

4. Test Drive as You’ll Actually Drive

Now it’s on to the fun stuff: the drive itself.

This is when you really get to know if the car is right for you.

Unfortunately, test drives are often too tame to really reveal anything. The dealer takes you around the block and back to the lot. It isn’t enough.

Make it clear you want to actually test the car. Get it out onto the open road. Remember, you want to know it’ll match up to the driving you normally do. That means being able to put the foot down. Find out how the acceleration is, how it handles, how the gear-changes feel, and so on.

Similarly, it’s one thing braking at 20mph in a residential neighborhood. It’s another to brake from 70mph on a highway. You want to know it works!

5. Pay Attention to Your Senses

There’s a lot going on when you test drive a car.

After all, it’s a new vehicle that you aren’t used to. You definitely don’t want to damage it in any way! At the same time, you’re trying to get a proper feel for it. Oftentimes, it’s easy to walk away and find it's a total blur in your memory.

Try and attend to the sensory experiences when you’re in it.

Listen out for sounds. How quiet is the drive? Is there a lot of road noise? Are there any strange sounds? What about touch? Does the suspension feel good? How responsive is the car to your actions? Let go of the wheel. Does it drift to one side?

All of these points should help you see the car for what it actually is.

6. Check Everything Works Inside

Chances are, the car will have a bunch of technology in it.

You want to make sure it’s all fully operational.

Test the radio, the GPS, the apps, the Bluetooth, rear camera and so on. Ask the dealer to give you a run-through of everything and validate that it’s all operational.

7. Take Some Time

Here’s a final tip:

After the drive, don’t rush to make a purchase.

Again, the salesperson is going to try and convince you to buy it immediately. Resist the temptation, even if you loved it.

Take at least an evening to reflect on the drive. Stop, think back, and take stock. And organize another test drive of a different car to compare notes!   

Time to Take a Test Drive

There you have it: the top tips for getting the most out of a test drive.

Millions of new cars are bought in the US each year. However, the decision to buy one isn’t necessarily an easy one to make. You want to make sure it’s right for you.

The best way to do that is by taking a test drive. Hopefully, this post has highlighted exactly how to make your trial behind the wheel as useful as possible.

Are you ready for a new car and want to set up a test drive? Contact us today to see how we can help!


Smart Trier, Smart Buyer: How to Get the Most Out of a Test Drive - Antelope Valley Nissan

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