10 Things to remember while taking a test drive
Did you ever buy a pair of denim that looked good in pictures, only to find out that they were hugely uncomfortable to wear? Buying a car is quite similar, except that the stakes are much higher, and the return policy isn’t the same.
Test driving is one of the most important aspects while buying a car, regardless of whether it’s used or new. Buying a car involves a considerable expense, and it can’t be done simply by browsing through a few pictures. Once you sit inside a car and start the ignition, the driving experience may turn out to be entirely different.
Here’s what you should do while taking a test drive.
Research and shortlist your cars
Before taking the test drive, we suggest that based on your budget to determine the must-have specifications and features you want in the car. These could be a power steering, a hi-fi sound system, or just about anything. You can research the car models online. Never select more than three cars for the test drive. The more you choose, the higher will be your confusion while making a final decision.
Inform the dealer
It’s important to inform the dealer about the exact make, model, trim of the car, and not the generic model. When the sales executive from the dealership calls to confirm the test drive, insist on knowing the specific version of the car they are sending.
It’s advisable to take along a friend or a family member who has good knowledge about cars to the test drive. He/she may lend you a bit of expert advice. During the actual test drive, keep in mind the following points.
Observe how the ride feels
Check steering wheel operation. If it feels too heavy, then navigating the car could be troublesome if you drive it in congested city traffic. Again, if the steering is too light, you may face problems in controlling the car. Check whether the car is offering a smooth ride. Drive on speed breakers, undulating roads, and uneven surfaces to see how the car handles.
Check how the brakes feel when you apply them. Are they stopping too quickly, or do the brakes go a long distance before stopping? Do they feel too hard, making smooth stops difficult? Are you comfortable with the car’s ability to stop?
If the car you are test driving has a manual transmission, check how heavy the clutch feels while pressing and whether the gear shifting is smooth. Is it difficult to distinguish between the first and third gear while shifting? Is the shifting smooth to operate? For automatic transmissions, check the upshift and downshift smoothness, particularly in the hills.
You should be able to see in all directions from the driver’s seat, especially out of the rear window. Take note of the blind spots. Several modern cars sport a wide trim around the windows, which makes it difficult to see quite a large part of your right and left. While stopping at a traffic signal with someone crossing the road in front of the car, check if you can see the person approaching your vehicle?
The car should be easily maneuverable through sharp turns and curves. This is particularly important if the car has to travel in city traffic. Does the car accelerate properly while merging into the highway? Can you park the car easily? Does it fit well in crammed parking places? Parallel parking for a new car shouldn’t be difficult. Is a three-point turning possible in a limited space?
Almost all modern cars have near-zero cabin noise. But still, some exterior noises do come in. Take note of the cabin noise with the car’s audio system turned off. Is the sound of the rolling tires audible inside the cabin? Does the vehicle make noise while running? While driving on a highway, do you have to raise your voice to be heard?
Climate control system
Cars these days have adaptive climate control systems. Check whether the fan is powerful enough. There should be a sufficient number of air vents, conveniently placed inside the cabin. That aside, the controls should be easy to use.
Try out all the electronics of the car like a rear-view camera, navigation system, and similar other features. They should be easy to operate.