Test-driving a car can be an exciting experience or a nerve-wracking one.
The excitement comes from the unknown – what will I see when I step out of the garage? Will I like the car, or is it just okay? What are its capabilities? Is it safe?
The anxiety comes from not knowing what to expect, or maybe even something as mundane as being alone in a stranger’s car for several minutes.
Even with all that, it’s still an important part of getting a feel for a potential purchase.
So how do you test-drive cars safely and effectively? Here are 10 important questions to ask yourself if you want to ensure your test run isn’t going to waste.
What are you looking for in a car?
Before you head out, you should know what you are looking for in a car.
The first step to finding the right car is to know your budget, needs, and wants.
Do you want a sporty car or something more practical? What is your lifestyle like?
What kind of features do you want in a car? These are all questions that need to be answered before heading out for a test drive.
If you are unsure about any of these things and still want to test-drive cars, make sure to ask someone else along with you who can give their perspective on the decision.
Do you know what questions to ask?
You’d be surprised how many people have no idea what questions to ask when test-driving a car.
Are you going to know if the car is in good shape?
Will you know if the engine is too loud or it’s difficult to turn? How about the braking system?
Do you want to test-drive a used car? If so, how do you handle that? What are your priorities when looking for a used car?
Is this just going to be something casual or will you take it seriously and put it through its paces?
What type of driving experience do you want to have with this vehicle – performance, comfort, luxury, etc.?
Will you be able to live with any unexpected quirks or issues with the vehicle – oil leaks or major mechanical problems that would require extensive repairs?
Is this a lease or purchase vehicle and what’s going to happen with it at the end of the deal?
How do you define comfort and usefulness?
As you’re test-driving a car, you should think about how comfortable the vehicle will be for you.
Most people would say that cars, vans, and SUVs are not all that comfortable.
But some models of these types of vehicles do have very high levels of comfort and amenities.
So, if you want to find a car that’s going to be perfect for your needs, it’s worth asking yourself what those needs are.
If you need something that will make commuting easy or hold more than five passengers comfortably, then you might want to look into an SUV or minivan.
If you’re looking for something with quick acceleration and good gas mileage on highways, then a small sporty car would be ideal for you.
Is there a demo route you can take?
If you’re buying a new car, ask the salesperson for a demo route.
This will help you get to know the driving experience and prepare yourself for what might happen when you step behind the wheel.
If it’s your first time test-driving a car, this preparation is just as important.
How will your time in the car be shared?
Think about how you will spend your time in the car.
If you are planning on just driving around, test-driving can be done as quickly as a few minutes.
However, if you want to get a feel for the car’s capabilities, it might take more than a few minutes.
If you are considering purchasing the vehicle, make sure that there is enough time allotted when you are test-driving so you can get an idea of its features and functionality.
What is the car’s payment process like?
You should start by asking how easy the purchase process is, and how much you’ll have to pay for it.
You want to make sure that if you decide to buy the car, you won’t get stuck with a hefty finance fee.
Where will you go for maintenance and repair?
Test-driving a car is fun, but it can also be expensive.
The majority of people will end up needing to take their car in for some sort of maintenance or repair at some point.
So, where will you go for your car’s maintenance and repairs?
Will the mechanic be close by, or possibly even inside the dealership? If the latter, do you trust them?
What about if there was an issue with the brakes during your test drive – would they help you fix it?
Are there any hidden or unexpected costs involved?
Is the car available for test-driving today? If not, can you take a test drive in the next few days or weeks? What’s the mileage range of the car?
How often does the car need maintenance? Are there any additional costs involved in owning this vehicle that wasn’t mentioned at the dealership?
Does the car have any extra fees, such as taxes or registration?
Will you be able to return it if you decide to go with something else?
Can you take someone with you on your test drive, and will they be charged anything by the dealership or rental company?
1) Do you have a good idea of the car’s size and shape?
2) Have you done your research on the make and model of the vehicle?
3) Which one is your favorite color?
4) Is it comfortable in the backseat?
5) Is there sufficient legroom for all passengers?
6) Can the car seat more than four people comfortably?
7) Does the engine sound good when it starts and stops?
8) What does it feel like to drive this car? Is it easy to maneuver on city streets, highways, or unpaved roads? Are there any strange noises from the engine or transmission that might be concerning (piston slap, knocking)?
9) How well would this car hold up if an accident occurs? What about if you take off from a stoplight at high speed and hit a tree or another car head-on – how would it fare in that situation, and how much damage are we talking about here?
10) Could something happen to this car while you’re test-driving that could negatively affect your purchase decision later on down the road (e.g., costly repairs)?