During the summer months, more Americans will shop for new and used cars than at any other time during the year. So that car shoppers don’t skimp on one of the most vital pieces of the car-shopping process, the editors at Cars.com have compiled important tips for taking a test drive.
“The test drive can be the most important aspect of buying a new or used car, but it’s also one of the most overlooked,” said Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor. “We want to ensure that shoppers don’t let their emotions get the best of them when they should be gathering the important information they need to make the right purchase.”
Cars.com advises shoppers to take test driving seriously and consider the following tips when testing new and used vehicles:
- Explore the car fully before you drive; you cannot concentrate on everything at once
- Make sure you are comfortable in the car; seat comfort and overall confidence behind the wheel are important factors that can determine your satisfaction
- Check the visibility in all directions
- Figure out whether the car fits your lifestyle and needs. For example, can you install that child seat without trouble? Will your bike fit in the trunk? Is there enough room in the cargo area for a dog kennel?
- Judge if the car you are testing has the right options – dealers may have more of the same vehicle but with different options
- Do your research ahead of time so you are prepared when you come to the dealership
- Make sure the car’s features and technology meets your needs. Can you reach all buttons and knobs? Are the car’s features easy to understand and use?
When testing a used vehicle:
- Check for any unusual or bad smells, sounds and sights
- Write down anything that seems damaged or suspicious and refer to the list before purchasing
- Bring a second person along to act as an additional set of eyes and ears
- Bring the car to a trained mechanic for inspection; if the seller doesn’t allow this, walk away
- If you are not allowed to test drive the vehicle, walk away and consider a different seller
“No matter how sure you are that a car is perfect, everyone should still take a test drive,” said Wiesenfelder. “This is your chance to size up the car when it’s stationary, and to drive it like you plan to every day.”