The test drive is more than getting behind the wheel and interacting with the sales person, who could also serve as a distraction from being engaged with listening to the vehicle.
Here are a few tips we recommend, before, during and after the test drive.
- Examine the vehicle. Look on top of the vehicle. Pop the hood. Open the trunk. Close and open all of the doors. If its a minivan, make sure all of the doors slide open and close. Look and listen for anything that seems out of the ordinary. Do you notice any leaks? If you're buying new, make sure there are no dents or dings on the vehicle.
- Inspect the tires. Is there any tread depth? Are the tires safe for all weather conditions?
- Inside the vehicle, make sure all of the windows operate, front and rear. Check all the switches front and rear.
- Check the heating and ventilation systems, making sure they heat and/or cool off the vehicle. Examine the vents.
- Does the radio work? Avoid listening to the radio during the test drive. The goal is to listen for any abnormal sounds.
- Does the sunroof open and close, if its equipped with such?
- Open the glovebox. If you're buying used, look for service records that might have been left in the vehicle by the previous owner. Take a moment to examine if they are available.
- Smell for any abnormal odors, especially, if buying used.
- Upon taking the test drive, turn the radio off. Minimize talking to the sales representative. The goal is to be engaged in the vehicle. Check the brakes. Blow the horn. Is the steering centered, when driving?
- Take time to adjust the seat, side mirrors and rearview mirror to a comfortable and safe driving position.
- Test drive the vehicle at highway speeds in an area that allows one to examine for vibration, at such speeds. Drive safely.
- Once the drive is completed, ask yourself is this car worth the investment you're about to make.
- If you're buying used, make sure you have the vehicle inspected, especially if you're buying the vehicle from a dealer or individual that has not been trained by the automaker to service the vehicle. If the dealer or individual does not allow you to have the vehicle inspected, this could be a sign that this is not the vehicle for you.
- Access a current vehicle history report, if your buying used, via AutoCheck or Carfax. Make sure you examine and read it thoroughly.