test drive

How to Make the Most of Your Test Drive

Imagine the last time you walked into a car dealership. We’re sure you spent hours sitting with a sales rep and discussing different makes and models, pricing options, and available upgrades. But as you sit there debating the pros and cons of each model, every car shopper knows the most exciting part of the experience is the test drive. Finally getting behind the wheel and breathing in that new car smell. Although a test drive is integral to your car shopping experience, most buyers don’t overthink the process. They show up at the dealership and let the car do the impressing.

However, while a specific vehicle might win you over in the moment, there are a number of questions you should consider during your drive. If you plan on car shopping this year, take a moment to review these important tips for your next test drive.

Ways to make the most of your test drive

Shopping for a new or used vehicle? Here are the things you should consider on your next test drive. Below are 5 tips for every driver to keep in mind when testing out different vehicles.

Tip #1: Call ahead

A spontaneous trip to the dealership may sound like a fun idea, but you could end up being misled on the actual condition of the vehicle. This is particularly true if you plan on buying a used vehicle. One of the biggest tips we recommend is ensuring the engine is cold and hasn’t been running ahead of your arrival. A stone cold engine allows you to spot out any existing issues, such as a bad starter or alternator.

Tip #2: Bring along familiar items

Your car is probably the second place you spend most of your time. So, why not make sure you feel right at home? When test driving a new vehicle, bring along a few items that you would normally have in the car. For example, connect your phone to the bluetooth system and see how the audio works. Do you find the infotainment controls easy to use? Does the vehicle have enough storage compartments? View the test drive as a preview to your day to day life. Take the time you need to see if your lifestyle jives with the vehicle.

Tip #3: Check under the hood

Before you take the vehicle out for a spin, make sure all fluids are in working order. Simply pop open the hood and take a look around. You can also browse the owner’s manual and quickly find out the basic mechanics of the car. You might not find this step necessary if you’re buying new, however, it’s worth looking under the hood regardless.

Tip #4: Check the brakes

When out on a test drive, make sure to assess the brake quality of the vehicle. Braking is one of the most important safety components of your vehicle. Whether you’re interested in buying a new or used car, you want a vehicle that has a sharp response to braking. Anything other than that indicates that the brakes are worn out or of bad quality.

Tip #5: Hit the open road

Though this might not be attainable for every test driver, we recommend you find a straight, traffic-free road to really test out the engine. You can practice steering, braking, and other basic motions without the interference of other drivers. By the end of the test drive, you should have a good idea of how well the vehicle handles the road. On top of that, you’ll have a true indicator if that vehicle is meant for you.

test drive

We hope these tips help you!

If you’ve never gave a second thought to your test drive, you’re not the only one. Most drivers walk into a dealership without a set agenda. Unfortunately, that could lead to a bad buying decision, especially if you’re buying a second-hand vehicle. The team at Headlights Depot hopes these tips guide you through the best test drive experience. Remember: take your time! The test drive is the only one-on-one time you get with the vehicle before signing the dotted line.

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Linzi Martin
Linzi Martin has worked as a content manager, consultant, and writer for the past six years. She's handled everything from blogs and articles to e-books and social media content. Her work has been featured in various publications including Apartment Guide, The Startup, and Voyage Magazine. Outside of work, Linzi enjoys staying active, frequenting new restaurants around South Florida, and spending time with her family.

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    1 Comment

    1. These are great tips! I’ve never thought about bringing familiar items with me, it makes a lot of sense!

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