For most auto shoppers, scheduling a test drive is often one of the final and most important steps of the selection process. Whether you are considering a new or used vehicle, getting behind the wheel is the true test of whether you are going to be satisfied with the fit and handling. In this article, Rory Angold, Executive Vice President at United Car Care, offers some pointers for maximizing the value of a test drive.
Examine the Vehicle’s Condition Report
Before you take a test drive of a used vehicle, ask the dealer to provide you with a condition report. These reports from companies like CARFAX will let you know the vehicle’s ownership history and whether it has suffered flood damage or been damaged in any significant collisions. While these reports are not designed to reflect a vehicle’s current mechanical condition, you will, at a minimum, know whether it has had any significant repairs or title issues.
Take a Good Look Before You Jump In the Driver’s Seat
Spend a few minutes to get a well developed first impression of the vehicle before your test drive. Schedule your test drive during the daytime hours so that you can see the vehicle in the best light available. Evaluate whether it looks as good as the pictures you saw online. Check out the paint, body, and wheels, and look around the interior as well. Test out all the doors and trunk openings to be sure they are working properly. Take a look at the tread on the tires and see if there is any wear or damage apparent on the tire sidewalls. If you see any minor dings or scratches, ask if they will be repaired before a final sale.
Don’t Drive Away Immediately After Starting the Vehicle
Before you put the vehicle in gear, let it sit and idle a few moments. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations. Test out the audio system, the heater, and air conditioners before beginning your test drive. Look for any warning lights on the dashboard and make sure all the gauges are working. Also, check out seat adjustments before you put the vehicle in drive.
Test the Vehicle’s Stop-and-Go Driving
If the dealership is on a freeway or major highway, make a point to drive through a neighborhood or at least around the parking lot to simulate city traffic driving. Pay attention to the brakes and whether they operate smoothly and tightly. Listen for any squealing or grinding when using the brakes. Make sure that the vehicle accelerates confidently and handles right-angle turns smoothly in both directions.
Include Some Highway Driving
Get the vehicle out on the highway and spend some time driving at least 55 miles per hour. Pay attention to the transmission and if shifting from gear to gear feels smooth and effortless. Switch lanes while driving at highway speed to test the vehicle’s handling and steering. Use all of the mirrors to determine if there are any blind spots or other visibility issues. As you move on flat highway space and up and down hills, feel for any vibrations or unusual sounds.
About Rory Angold
Rory Angold has spent the past 20 years assuming leadership and executive positions within various companies. Mr. Angold worked with Zurich North America, managing and more importantly developing field teams in California, Nevada, Hawaii, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. His goal was to connect with automotive dealers and industry partners to help them increase their wealth while managing risks and protecting their assets. Mr. Angold is now serving as Executive Vice President at United Car Care, a company that offers vehicle service contracts that provide reliable protection at an affordable cost.
We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!