Shopping for vehicles can be an exhilarating experience but for many, it can be anxiety-provoking. To put your mind at ease before making a major purchase, it makes sense to try before you buy, doesn’t it?
According to an Autotrader consumer survey, two thirds of car buyers find it ‘very important’ to take a test drive when buying a car.
With regard to buying a brand new car, getting a feel for how it performs and handles is part of the experience. Getting comfortable in the driver’s seat, trying out the tech features, and testing visibility are important checks to help you determine if you’ve found the right car.
But for a used car, you also want to be sure that it not only feels right for you, but that it doesn’t have any underlying issues. The used car market is a fantastic place to find a great deal, but since the car isn’t new, there could be some wear and tear if the previous owner didn’t look after it well. This is especially true if you plan to buy from a private seller (instead of a dealership) due to the fact that a private seller does not typically have maintenance expertise or an online reputation to maintain.
If you’re thinking about organizing a test drive, here are 7 things you should keep in mind to make the most of it.
Before arriving at the dealership, plan a route to try out the car you’re interested in buying. What you want are varying types of roads depending on the vehicle you want to buy.
If you’re test-driving a vehicle that’s going to be your daily commuter, find a combination of smooth roads and rough asphalt. Identify a nearby area where you can reach highway speeds. A bit of stop-and-go traffic can help you test the acceleration and brakes.
If this isn’t an everyday driver – a 4x4 that you'll be using for off-roading, for example – your options may be limited. Try to locate a route not too far from the dealership where you can put the vehicle through its paces to make it sure it’s fit for the intended purpose.
If you’ve ever taken a test drive but haven’t felt confident in the driver’s seat, this tip is for you. Take the time to adjust before venturing out onto the road.
Don’t worry about the time it takes to make the adjustments. When you’re positioned comfortably, you can focus on driving and on how the car handles rather than not being able to see or reach something.
Let’s get the fun started. Start the engine and pay attention to a few things:
Let the engine run for a bit before you start moving. While the engine is coming up to temperature, there are a few things to pay attention to inside the car.
Make note of any issues you come across. If you decide this is the car you want, make sure the seller addresses them before the vehicle changes hands.
The time has finally come to hit the road. You’ve already become familiar with the features, so the test drive is all about performance, handling, and identifying problems. Your test drive route should have a stretch of highway, ideally with a speed limit of 90 km/h or higher. Now’s your chance to gauge if the vehicle has the performance you want. Hit the accelerator to bring your car up to the posted limit.
When you’re driving, pay attention to the steering wheel. Is it vibrating or pulling to one side when you’re holding it straight? This can be an indication of a steering or suspension issue, an alignment concern, or maybe low tire pressure.
When you brake, listen for squeals or grinding. If you feel a shimmy or vibration in the steering wheel, there could be braking or tire issues. Make sure the seller addresses the issue or you can leverage it to negotiate a cheaper price.
While driving on the highway can be fun and easy, a test drive on city streets will give you the best feedback.
Avoiding peak traffic times will help ensure that you enjoy more freedom to execute your desired manoeuvres. It will also ensure that you don’t spend your test drive time slot stuck in rush hour traffic.
When you get back to the dealership, look underneath the car using the flashlight on your smartphone. Aside from clean water that may drip from the HVAC tube or a muffler drain hole, you shouldn’t see any leaks.
A test drive is an important stage in the car-buying journey as it lets you test the comfort and reliability of a vehicle. The last thing you want to take ownership of is a lemon.
Fortunately, Canada Drives can connect you with meticulously inspected and serviced pre-owned vehicles near you. Wherever you are in Canada, we’re your one-stop solution for finding the best car deals in your area.
So, put us to the test! Start your search for a great daily driver with Canada Drives!
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