Feature article

Top tips for test driving a car

You’ve found a car and want to get behind the wheel and check it out. Here’s our top tips for a successful test drive.

Once you’ve decided what car best suits the needs of yourself and your family, you’re going to want to take it for a test drive. The only way to know for certain if it’s the right car is by getting your hands on the steering wheel and foot on the pedal. Here’s our top tips for getting the most out of your test drive.

Test a few

If you’re mulling over a few different car types, test drive all of them as closely together as possible. This way you can make direct comparisons while each drive is still fresh in the memory – making for the most accurate and informed decision on which you like best.

Check the details

Remember to observe the details and pay close attention to the small things. Something seemingly innocuous at first glance could become a serious frustration three months into ownership. For example, a slightly inaccurate petrol gauge might initially seem manageable but is likely to become problematic further down the line.

Comprehensively inspect the car before you set off. Check out the interior, the seating, legroom, boot capacity – even take a look at the dashboard storage options and if the glovebox is of a decent size and quality. Every little detail counts.

Are you covered?

Make sure to check your insurance status before you even step into the vehicle. If you’re test driving at a dealership, they’re almost certain to have insurance cover for test drives. With private sellers, check the sort of insurance they have and any policy restrictions.

Once you’re behind the wheel

Big mistakes lots of people make on test drives include not travelling for long enough, and only driving on limited terrain. To avoid falling into these traps, you should:

    • Plan a route in advance.
    • Don’t rush the drive – you need at least 25/30 minutes for an accurate assessment.
    • Drive on a variety of roads.
    • Try various directions – see how the car reverses, as well as driving forwards.
    • Check the driver visibility.
    • Give parking a go – if it’s going to be a nightmare to park, you’ll soon regret ownership.

    Stay focused

    If you perform the test drive in the company of the dealer or private seller, make sure you don’t allow them to distract you. If they’re constantly chattering to you, they could be preventing you from making some crucial observations on how the car handles.

    It’s also a good idea to enlist a trusted companion to accompany you on the test drive. Not only can they offer a second opinion and their extra set of eyes might spot a few crucial details you’ve missed, but they also offer safety if you’re visiting a stranger to test drive a privately sold car.

    Buy with confidence

    By observing all of these tips, we’re confident you’ll have an effective and enlightening test drive. One which gives you greater assurance that the car will meet your needs, and empowering you with confidence in the car buying process. Once you’ve taken your test drive and fallen in love with a vehicle, make sure to check out the Background Check and get a pre-purchase car inspection of the car!