Make That Ride Count – Test Driving 101

In certain ways, test driving a new car is rather like meeting your prospective SO in a ‘formal-but-informal’ meeting before an arranged marriage. In the latter, you decide whether you want to spend the rest of your life with someone based on an hour or so of polite conversation.

Thankfully, your new car test ride is not quite like that. A simple weekend test drive should be enough to help you buy the right car, provided you know what you’re doing.

test drive before buying a car

These tips are designed to help you do just that. Find out how you can buy the right car with ease. Here’s a list of tried-and-tested techniques that you can use to pick the right car through an effective test ride. 

Homework Matters. Really.

With a computer at home – and a smartphone in your pocket – you have no excuse, really. Get on the internet, and look up the car you’re considering.

You can get your info from the manufacturers themselves, or professional auto publications. If you don’t like looking for such crucial information on your phone, you can take a look at car magazines and buying guides; these are available at most newsstands and bookstores.

research before you buy a car

When you’re well prepared, you’re less likely to get reeled in by sales tactics designed to make you buy bigger and costlier than you intended. Car salesmen are notoriously smooth operators, so every bit of preparation at home helps.

Before The Actual Test Ride

Before you even leave your home for the nearest showroom, keep this in mind – if you’re going to consider more than one car, it’s best that you test drive them all in one day. This way, your decision is less likely to be biased by emotions and experiences, which vary from day to day.

test riding essentials

At The Showroom: Beginning The Test Ride

When you meet your salesperson, let them know which car models you have in mind, and tell them if you intend to visit other establishments as well. This sends a clear message that you’ll be taking your business elsewhere unless they make a good offer.

Taking a friend with you is a great idea; you won’t be easily overwhelmed by all that sales talk, plus your friend might be able to help by noticing the details that you missed. Extra points if they’re a car enthusiast.

Before you get the keys, ask the salesperson whether they have a fixed route for the test ride. If it seems like the route they want to take won’t be enough to help you decide, ask them – and be nice about it – whether you can alter the route slightly.

A test route that includes speed bumps, stop-and-go traffic, and a few stretches where you can really step on the pedal should help you gain a thorough understanding of how the car handles everyday situations.

Test Riding Essentials

Your test ride is the most crucial part of understanding whether the new vehicle you’re considering is worth the money you’ll be shelling out for it. This means that it’s important to check out all the pertinent details, not just most of them.

test drive a new car

Here’s a handy checklist:

1. Once you get the keys, don’t get all excited and jump in the car. Instead, calmly take in the car’s features. Are the cubby holes big enough? Do you have decent visibility through the rear windshield? Is the ride height comfortable? If not, is it adjustable? You get the drift.

2. Take stock of riding comfort, visibility, and how easy it is to operate the cockpit controls. If you don’t have the level visibility you’re comfortable with, you might want to reconsider your choice.

3. If you’re buying the car for your wife or child, let them do the test drive. It’s crucial to check whether the car suits the person who’s going to be driving it. 

4. When actually riding the car, these are the factors you should be looking at: acceleration, braking, steering, handling, ride comfort, and noise (both external and engine noise).

Follow these steps, and you should have no trouble choosing the right car.


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