10 Tips for Test Driving a New Car

December 28th, 2022 by

You’re shopping for a new car. Hopefully, you’ve researched the cars you’re interested in and have narrowed down your top choices.  You’ve also checked current market prices so that you know what you can and cannot afford. The next very important step is the test drive. The test drive is the only way to know if you’ll like the car, if you’ll feel comfortable in it, and if the various options the car comes with will suit you. To help you during this process, here are 10 tips for test driving a new car.

  1. Be Prepared

Test driving is a simple process that you can do at a car dealership. Schedule an appointment for your drive, and make sure you have your driver’s license with you. A car dealer will want to make a photo copy of your license in case something goes wrong on the drive.

  1. Check the Model

test driving new carIf you’ve asked to drive a particular model, make sure the one you’re driving is the one you want. Verify that the engine, transmission, interior options, and other specifications match what you asked for when you made the appointment. Because certain options and powertrains can greatly alter the feel of a vehicle, it’s important to drive the particular model and trim level you intend to purchase. If your dealer doesn’t have the combination of engine and transmission that you are looking for, wait, or find a dealer that does have it.

  1. Walk Around

Walk around the car before you get in.  Check to see if there are any dents or dings, or if any trim pieces are missing. Even new cars can have some imperfections from sitting on the car lot. Look at the wheels and tires, then pop the hood. Make sure the engine in the car you’re about to drive is the one you want if you buy this car. While you’re under the hood, check to see if there are any water leaks or rust spots. This isn’t common and shouldn’t be there on a new car, but there are exceptions to the rule.

  1. Get In and Get Comfortable.

After you’ve walked around the car and you know that this is the one you want to drive, open the door and get in. Adjust the driver’s seat, the mirrors, and the lumbar support (if it has one). Make sure you’re comfortable in the car, and can reach all of the controls.

Familiarize yourself with all of the controls, so you won’t have to try to figure out anything while you’re driving. Try the radio and the connectivity options, but then turn them all off. After you’ve set the front seat for your comfort, get out and sit in the rear seat behind you to see how much leg room there is left for your passengers.

Get in and out of the car a couple of times, both in the front seat and the back. Check the rear seats for comfort, and if they fold down for additional cargo space, how easy is it to raise and lower the seat backs. If there’s a third row, see how easy or difficult it is to access. Speaking of cargo, open the trunk to see if it’s big enough. It’s also a good idea to check the lift height to load or unload any cargo.

  1. Start Cold

If possible, start the car while the engine is cold. This will help give you an idea of how quickly it starts and how long it takes for the car to warm up.

  1. Ask to Set the Route for the DriveBottom of Form

Many dealerships have a route they ask customers to follow, but it may be too limited to make an educated buying decision. Ask if you can choose the route to get a feel for the car in different situations and try to include a variety of road surfaces like flat stretches, hills, side streets, and highway driving. Drive a route that you’re familiar with, roads you’ve travelled in your current car.

  1. Acceleration and Brakes

Test the acceleration of the car by driving it on the highway, if possible. You can test the brakes by driving it in city traffic. These tests will also help you see how smoothly the car changes speeds and shifts gears.

  1. Steering and Suspension

With the motor running, but the car at a standstill, turn the wheel all the way to the right and left. Check the turning circle of the car to see if it suits you.  While driving at a moderate speed, change lanes to see how easily the car handles such maneuvers. Drive over some rough roads as well as smooth ones.

  1. Visibility

While you’re driving, look around. Observe how well you can see out of the car in all directions, particularly through the rear window. Check to see if the car has any blind spots that could cause a problem.

  1. Listen

Make sure the radio is turned off to avoid distraction. During the drive, listen for any noises that don’t seem right. Also, check the road noise at different speeds and on different road surfaces. Lower the windows while driving and see if airflow is too much or not enough.

Immediately after your test drive, you should drive any other models you may be thinking of for comparison. Following these simple steps can save you a lot of headaches down the road.

For over 85 years, Dixie Buick GMC has served the Ft. Myers & Estero, FL areas, offering a diverse inventory of both new and used vehicles to choose from. Our highly trained sales team is ready to help you select your next vehicle, and our certified factory trained service technicians are equipped to handle your service needs. If you have any automotive needs in the Naples, Cape Coral, or Ft Myers area, we hope you will stop by and let us serve you. For more information, visit our website or contact us. We hope to see you soon!

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