You’ve shopped around for used cars and think you’ve found a few nice ones. The next step is giving them a test drive, key pointers in mind.
Plan where you want to go.
First and foremost, plan a route for your test drive. You need to drive the vehicle in varied situations, such as in the busy downtown area, on smooth and bumpy roads, on the highway, and so on. Observe for any weird vibrations or noises while you navigate your route.
Inspect the car before leaving the lot.
You’re obviously going to inspect the car inside and out before purchasing it, but there may not be a better time to do it than right before the test drive. Can you reach things easily, such as the radio, mirrors and temperature? Are the pedals and seat adjustment just right for you?
Keep the drive realistic.
Do what you usually would when driving – speed up, slow down, pass and merge. What’s your take on the engine power? Does it accelerate fast enough? Think it has more power than you really need? Does the car upshift and downshift fluidly and at the right time? Does the airflow around the car create an irritating squealing or humming noise when you’re driving at high speed?
Get a feel of the car.
Do you feel comfortable with the steering wheel? Is it sensitive enough or is there a lag when you turn it? During the drive, do you have to constantly make adjustments? Take note of how the vehicle reacts when you make a right or left turn (make lots of those turns!).
Test the brakes.
Take the car to a spot that is safe enough for testing its stopping power. If you have passengers, make sure you tell them beforehand so they can prepare for an abrupt stop. Do hard and soft brakes alike, and see how the car’s anti-lock brake system responds. Did the car pull to one side or did you have to hit the pedal hard before the vehicle stopped moving?
Do a test drive at night as well.
As a driver, you must be aware that driving in the day is totally different from driving at night. So ask the dealer or seller for another test drive in the evening.
If you want your test drive to fully serve its purpose, be patient. If you have to spend 30 minutes in the car, let it be. This is the most crucial factor to consider as you decide if the vehicle is right for you or not. Make wise use of it.