How to Make the Most of a Test Drive

The First Rule of Buying a Car

test drive                  Always do a test drive.  This is the first and most important rule of buying a car.  It’s human nature to be impatient.  We prioritize things that reward us quickly because it gets us to that boost of happy brain-juice, but what comes easiest isn’t always the best.  Buying too quickly often leads to buyer’s remorse.  In the case of buying a car, ending up with one that doesn’t meet your needs is an expensive mistake.

Make the Most of Your Test Drive

A test drive is an important part of getting the best car, so don’t skip it.  Be sure and schedule it in advance.  Most car dealers are happy to let you try a test drive, provided you let them know.

To make sure your test drive is useful, here are some tips:


1. Make a Plan

gps plan a route                  Before you even go in for a test drive, you should make sure you know what you’re looking for.  Time some time to consider what you want the car for.  If you want to pull trailers with it, it should have good view of the sides in the mirrors and has the appropriate hook up for your trailer type.  If you do sports and need to carry equipment, look for proper storage space.  If you want it for casual driving, you’ll want the best gas mileage possible.  Figure out your personal preferences as well.  Once you’ve worked this out, get on the internet and do a bit of research about what types of cars meet your needs and wants.

While making a plan, be sure to map out your test drive route.  Plot it to cover several different kinds of roads so you see everything the car can do.  Don’t forget to test how good the car is at breaking and accelerating.  An empty parking lot is a good place to test this, if you can find one.  If not, look for a place where you won’t have to worry about other cars and obstacles.


2. Do a Thorough Test Drive

A proper test drive is not just around the block once to see if the car runs.  A good test drive should replicate a typical drive for you.  If you drive on the freeway a lot, take it for a spin on the freeway.  If you drive on rough roads, drive on some rough roads.  If you drive on a lot of winding roads, take the car on some curves to see how it handles them.  And don’t rush yourself on this either.  If you’ve planned ahead, you should have picked a day where you have time to really get a feel for the vehicle, so spend some time with it.


3. Make Sure the Car is Comfortable

Make sure the car is suitably comfortable for you and the people who will use it.  If you have a large family, you want to make sure that it has enough space for all of them.  Remember, this is about more than just enough seats; the seats have to be large enough and there has to be enough leg room for your passengers.  Check the little things, like cup-holders, the range of adjustable seating, and other little things.  They’re not the things you normally think about when test driving, but if you don’t have the right extras, it’ll make the car much less comfortable in the future.

While you’re doing this, make sure the car is a smooth ride.  Even if you don’t drive on a lot of dirt roads, you should still see if it handles rough roads well.  You never know when you’re going to experience a bumpy ride and you want it to perform when you do.  Check how it handles speed bumps, too.


4. Bring Along a Second Set of Eyes

bring a friend                  While a car salesman will try to help you find a car that’s right for your needs, he doesn’t know you as well as a friend or family member does.  Bringing along someone to give you a second opinion can help you figure out exactly what you’re looking for.  They may also be able to remind you of things you didn’t think about while preparing for your test drive.  You can also get an opinion from them about how comfortable the car is for passengers.  If your friend has some mechanical or car buying experience, that’s even better.


After Your Test Drive

The biggest mistake people make is buying right away.  Buying a car is a big decision and you shouldn’t leap to it quickly.  The purpose of the test drive is to work out if the car handles how you like it, not to commit to a purchase.  After your test drive, make sure you ask all the questions you can of the seller about the vehicle.  Then, go home and think on it for a day or two.  The car will most likely still be there, so there’s no rush.  The extra time to think will help you figure out if you’ve forgotten to check anything.  You want to be sure before you buy, so don’t jump the gun.



If you buy a good car, repairs shouldn’t be an issue right out of the gate, but it is something you’ll have to deal with eventually.  Whether you have an accident, or just the wear and tear of general use, the car will need regular maintenance.  For that, we’re here to help.  If your car needs any fixing up, fine tuning, or you just want to put it through a safety inspection, we can help you out.  Get in touch whenever you need us and we’ll make sure you’re good to go.