If you plan to buy a vehicle, a proper test drive is important. The typical 20- to 30-minute test drive doesn’t offer a ton of opportunity to gauge if a vehicle is right for you, but you can use it wisely.
Here’s what AAA’s Car Doctor John Paul recommends.
- Successful test drives start at home. Identify what you want in a vehicle vs. what you need. A Ferrari might look fantastic, but it’s probably not the best choice for a family of four with two dogs.
- A salesperson may recommend a route aimed at keeping you on freshly paved roads or in low-traffic areas. Ask to chart your own course that suits your driving habits. Drivers who merge into heavy highway traffic every morning probably should know how it would feel to do that.
- Pay attention to how easy it is to get in and out of the vehicle. Minor difficulties on a test drive could become serious nuisances over time, especially if you’re in and out of your car a lot.
- Most drivers develop go-to spots for wallets, cellphones and sunglasses. Re-enact your routine to see if a vehicle has good spots for your stuff. See if you’re comfortable with the controls. All new cars come with a learning curve, but being intimidated by a large touch screen might be a sign the fully loaded model isn’t a good fit.
- Adjust the driver’s seat as if you had backseat passengers, then judge if it’s comfortable. This is also a good way to see if a vehicle has any blind spots, or may be difficult to drive in reverse.
- If you have children, think about how difficult it might be to install their car seats and how challenging it might be to get them in and out of the vehicle.
- Don’t fixate on cup holders. You may like to have your morning coffee within reach, but a conveniently located receptacle doesn’t make up for other shortfalls.
Do you have any other tips for winning a vehicle test drive? Let us know in the comments!
Also, find out what you should ask a car salesperson.