Test Driving a Car
Buying and Selling Cars

Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For When Test Driving a Car

You purchase a car and it looks great, with a glossy exterior and comfortable leather seats. But when you first take it out for a drive, the engine breaks down, and you have to spend a lot more to get it fixed. 

This is a situation that none of us would want to be in, which is why test driving a car is so important. Check out our buyers guide so you know what to look for when test driving a car. 

1. How It Feels When You Enter

How does the car feel when you enter it? Some cars may not be fitted for you physically, with the car door being too restrictive or too low. If you have to take a while to squeeze your way into the car, it’s not the best one for you. 

When you are looking to buy a car, these dealers may not pinpoint the car’s flaws, so it will be up to you to figure them out and ask the right questions to make sure you are getting what you paid for. 

2. Car Adjustments

When you have already entered the car, take a few moments to go through making the car comfortable for you. Take as long as you want to do this. Make sure the seat adjustments are working and that you can find a position that is suited for you.

You can also go through the adjustments for your side mirrors. Do you encounter any blind spots that may be an issue? If so, ask a few questions to the seller if they have a system in place to solve that issue. 

3. How The Ride Feels

All throughout the test drive, think about how the ride feels. Is the car too bumpy for your comfort, or is the steering easily controllable?

Every person’s preferences will differ, so if you are buying the car for yourself, make sure that it suits the way you normally drive. If you like driving quickly but the car doesn’t have the right brake control or the ability to move smoothly, then it may not be suited for you.

4. Check the Visibility

Once again, make sure that you check your line of sight from the windows, the mirrors, and even the rear. What blind spots concern you? If there is any that you think will become a huge issue, raise this question with the seller or choose a different car. 

Blind spots may not seem too important now, but they can create potential issues down the line. Especially if you’re not used to the car’s level of visibility, this will take a lot of adjustments to feel comfortable. 

5. Car Noise

Some people may get frustrated when a car makes a lot of sound during the drive. This is something you can pay attention to when going on a test drive. If the car noise gets to a point where it is distracting, or is preventing you from having a conversation comfortably, then it may not be a good fit. 

One of the important points to focus on in this buyers guide is how you feel about the car personally, even when it drives well. 

6. Drive in Stop-and-Go Traffic

To fully understand what the car is capable of, try to drive into stop-and-go traffic. Stop-and-go traffic is one of the most difficult situations your car can get into, with the need for quick brakes and the exhausting process of starting and stopping.

Under this situation, you’ll get to fully gauge how well your car works. Your brakes will have to be working really well to be able to withstand the stop-and-go process, and you will have to be able to start your car quickly and move forward carefully. 

When driving, pay attention to any sounds – grinding or screeching noises – that can mean the brakes are worn or the tires are not in good shape.  

7. Head to a Highway

On highways, you can test whether your car’s accelerators are working well. Does the car accelerate quickly once you get on the highway? Try to switch lanes and see whether the steering works well when you are driving at high speeds. 

Find out how it feels for you when you’re driving quickly. Does it feel like you have control over the car, or does it feel like it may be dragging a little? Try to drive up or down some slopes at a high speed to see if it can maintain the pressure. 

8. Practice Parking

Find out how your car performs when you are trying to park. Try to find a place for you to practice parallel parking specifically. 

Does your car transition from driving to reversing quickly? When parking, you need to maintain control over your car – can you achieve this, or is it difficult to use the pedals in the same way when reversing?

Buyers Guide to Test Driving Well

This buyers guide focuses on the aspects of a car that you can discover and explore when test driving. Taking a car out for a test is a crucial part of the purchasing process; you never really know how well it can perform until you drive it. 

Because of this, it will benefit you to know what to focus on when test driving. Make sure that you notice how the brakes and steering wheel feel in different situations – such as in stop-and-go traffic and when speeding on highways. At the same time, pay attention to how comfortable the car is for you, in terms of blind spots, seat position, and car noise. 

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