What To Look Out For On A Test Drive

Author: Tellz Auto | | Categories: Car Buying Service

American Car Imports

Buying a car is a big commitment, at their cheapest they can cost hundreds or thousands of your local currency, and you will probably own it for at least a few years. Once you’ve decided on the make and model of the car you intend to buy, a vital stage in the purchasing process is taking one for a test drive.

It’s very easy during the excitement of a test drive to overlook certain useful aspects of the experience. Your heart can sometimes overrule your head if care is not taken. If you have an attachment to the car prior to testing it, because it seems like a good bargain or you’re just sick of your old car, you may end up ignoring some of its shortcomings. This combined with clever salesmen trying to persuade you the car you’re testing is the perfect one for you, then a test drive can become an overwhelming experience.

Try to keep in mind what it is you want from your new car and whether the one you’re test-driving actually delivers. Check that any features you want come with the car and work as you expect them to. Most importantly, remember that you’re in control and you’re free to walk away at any time. The following tips will help you to know what to look out for when test driving a car and should help you avoid any potential pitfalls.

#1. Check For Potential Faults Before You Drive

The first thing to do before considering driving your potential new car is to check out both the exterior and interior. Try not to get too excited at the prospect of driving and haphazardly rush over these checks. First and foremost, inspect the exterior of the car. You don’t want to get too used to sitting in that driver’s seat just yet! This is even more important if your prospective car has been used. Confirm that the paintwork is in good condition and that there are no dent marks. If there are, make sure that these have been duly noted by the salesman before you go on your test drive. It is also very important to start off the car yourself. If the dealer won’t let you start the car off from cold, this should ring alarm bells, as it points to subsequent complications with the car.

If the exterior checks out, then you can finally go inside the car, but don’t become tempted to drive off just yet! Examine all the seats and trim for signs of wear and tear and make sure that every mark has been noted down by the dealer. Now, it’s time to get comfortable. Make sure that you can reach the peddles, your seat can be adjusted easily and that your mirrors can be altered from within the car. Once you start up the car, make sure there isn’t a disproportionate amount of fumes coming from the exhaust by checking via your rear view mirror. Turn the steering wheel numerous times while listening carefully to make sure there aren’t any unwelcome noises. If everything seems to be working, then it’s time to accustom yourself to the other controls.

#2. Check For The Car’s Insurance

Insurance is unlikely to be a problem, particularly if you’re buying from a main dealer, but it’s worth thinking about nonetheless. A dealer will want to take a copy of your driving license for their records and should cover you fully on their insurance. If you’re buying from a private seller, it’s likely the insurance will need to come from your side.

You’ll need a full comprehensive insurance to do this, and even then this is likely to only provide third-party cover when you’re driving someone else’s car. Make sure that you and the seller are happy with this. It’s unlikely you’ll have an accident on a test drive, but with third-party insurance, you may end up with the bill for any damage to the seller’s car. A phone call to your insurance company before going out to test drive privately is usually a good idea.

#3. Familiarize Yourself With The Car 

Despite this being a test drive, don’t feel the first thing you have to do is actually drive the car. Get inside and consciously spend a few minutes getting the seat comfortable, the mirrors adjusted as well as the air conditioning. Familiarize yourself with the major controls, too.
 Once you’re comfortable and understand how things work, start the engine and notice the sound. Next, turn the steering wheel fully to the left and right, listening for any clunks from the suspension.

Taking this considerate approach before you drive the car can help you remain objective when it’s time to drive. If you’re still happy with the car at this stage, now is the time to take it for an actual drive.

#4. Stay Alert While Driving The Car

Make sure the car accelerates smoothly and brakes effectively with precision, and continually listen out for strange noises or vibrations. Driving on a variety of roads is ideal – taking the car on fast dual- carriageways, slow routes and speed-bumped town roads should give you an idea of how it behaves in most of the situations you’re likely to be driving it. Don’t forget to check reverse gear engages smoothly as well – and consider the rear visibility when doing so.

Try to think about the type of driving you’ll be doing in the car. If you mainly commute in town, do you really want the aggressively shifting sporty gearbox? If you’re more of an enthusiastic driver, does the car have enough overtaking power for you? Some dealers may be reluctant to give you an extended test drive. Be sure to explain to the seller that you expect to be able to fully assess the car before purchasing it.

If you drive on roads you know like the back of your hand, this will help you compare and contrast previous experiences with different vehicles on your test drive. A major tip is to also factor in your commute to work on your planned test drive route.

#5. Stay Level-Headed and Bring a Friend

Once you’ve decided on your purchase and everything works as it should, it may still be worth taking some time to think it over. A good night’s sleep, the advice of a trusted friend or even a cup of coffee away from the dealership can give you the perspective to assess the car in the cold light of day. You can also bring a friend along with you to the dealership. This person can be an extra eye to help spot any red flags throughout the process. They can also take notes for you during the test drive and provide a little extra comfort. If your spouse, partner, adult child or other individual will be driving the car you purchase, it’s important they get a chance in the driver’s seat as well.

If you’re buying from a dealer, remember they’re there for your benefit and you can’t ask too many questions, or take too long to decide. Asking for a second test drive is also perfectly reasonable. It’s often said that buying a car should be a pleasurable experience, but that’s only partly true; test driving and choosing the car should be an objective process. Taking possession of and driving away in the right car is the pleasurable bit, thus conducting a thorough test drive should help ensure you make the correct choice.


Tellz Auto is a full c ar buying service and easy to use resource that helps people find the right vehicle. We believe the car you ride in is just as important as the home you live in. We offer guidance from start to finish and will help you negotiate a great deal on the perfect vehicle. For more information, give us a call at +1 512-400-4243 / +234 (803) 650-2556 or Get Started here today.