How to Test Drive Your Next Ride

One of the most significant aspects of the car-buying process, knowing how to test drive you next ride will ensure you a vehicle capable of fulfilling your needs as well as your desires. And yes, the two can run counter to one another.

Here’s a quick overview of the steps you need to take.

Before You Go
Before setting foot in a dealership, reflect upon how you use your car and what it needs to do for you. If this will be your only car and you have a family of four, a Miata is going to cause far more problems than it solves—regardless of how much fun it is to drive.

You should also get pre-qualified for an online car loan with a provider like RoadLoans. This way, you can avoid falling in love with something out of your price range.

If you’re shopping at dealerships, the best time to start is as early in the day as possible, in the middle of the week. Car dealerships are slower on weekdays, so salespeople will have more time to devote to your test drive. You should also take a friend along to help keep you on track

Make Direct Comparisons
Narrow your list down to three or four cars and test-drive all of them back-to-back on the same day. This way, your impressions will be fresh so differences will be readily evident.

Options can make a huge difference in the way you perceive a car. Make sure each car you test drive is configured as closely as possible to what you want to buy.

Look First, Drive Second
The temptation will be great to hop, in drive off, and base your impressions solely upon how the car feels on the move. However, you need to look at the trunk to make sure it will accommodate the cargo you might need to haul.

You’ll also need to see how much room is in the back seat if you carry passengers regularly. How easy is it to check the oil, look at fluid levels and perform basic maintenance? All cars are not the same in this regard.

Where are the different controls you’ll need to operate while driving? Can you reach the radio OK? Can you see out of the car without craning your beck? Can you install safety seats quickly and easily if you have young children?

During the Drive
Let the salesperson drive the car off the lot, so you can listen for squeaks and rattles. Turn of the audio system and ask the representative to let you listen to the car. Choose dealerships near where you live—or drive regularly—so you can use familiar roads to compare the car to what you’re used to experiencing.

Drive over some rough patches so you can see what the car does when it’s exposed to uneven pavement. Put the car on the highway so you can hear how quiet it is underway. This also gives you an opportunity to determine how well the car accelerates.

Make a few sharp turns so you can feel how the car might respond in an emergency maneuver. Find a safe place to brake sharply, so you can learn how the car reacts to sudden stops. Look for a parallel parking space so you can discover how easy it is to park on a busy street.

These tips for how to test drive your next ride will help you find a car capable of both serving your needs and providing an enjoyable driving experience. When you’re shopping for a new car, always remember your money is your power. If you feel pressured, disrespected, or slighted by a car dealer, take your cash to someone capable of treating you with the proper deference.

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