When buying a new or used car, it’s important to take the time to give it a thorough test drive. It’s your chance to make sure your new investment is going to be the best fit for your needs; safety, comfort, and practicality.

5 key tips to prepare for your test drive

  1. You may have narrowed your search down to a few vehicle options. If possible, try and take the test drives all on the same day to make sure that the experience of each is fresh in your mind and you can get a better gauge of your preferences.
  2. Take your time! Even if a pushy salesperson is hurrying you along, it’s important to have at least 30 minutes of driving time to get the full experience.
  3. Bring a friend. As well as engaging with the salesperson to allow you to concentrate on the drive, they can report on the passenger experience of the vehicle and provide a second opinion.
  4. Plan the route to include as many driving environments as possible, including smaller streets, motorways, intersections, and parking.
  5. If you have small children, bring their car seats along to make sure that they are compatible with the car.

9 things to observe while on the road

Of course, test driving is about seeing for yourself the capabilities and condition of the car. While you’re driving, here are some aspects to look out for and take note of:

  1. Observe the condition of the car. Make note of any scratches or visible damage.
  2. Make sure that safety features such as seatbelts and airbags are present.
  3. Is there sufficient storage in the car? Check that the boot is large enough for anything that you might need to transport around.
  4. Try a driving manoeuvre such as parallel parking. Are you happy with the physical size of the car? Are the mirrors positioned well? Does the car turn tightly?
  5. Take notice of how the car feels to sit in and drive. Are you comfortable? If not, can the seats and steering wheel be adjusted to the right levels?
  6. Turn the radio off and listen for any unusual noises. The engine should run quietly and smoothly.
  7. Look out for any signs of smoke coming from the bonnet when you start the car and as you’re driving.
  8. Test the brakes. Are you comfortable with how they feel?
  9. Take note of the fuel gauge. What is the fuel economy of the car? This can be hard to determine in a short test drive, but it will usually be obvious if the car is a major fuel guzzler.

Buying a new car can feel like a big task. With all of these aspects considered, you can feel confident that you have made the right decision for your investment.