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How To Test Drive a Car: 5 Expert Tips To Boost Your Confidence

How To Test Drive a Car: 5 Expert Tips To Boost Your Confidence

Test driving a car is one of the most important things to do before you buy. It’s where all your research and work on paper manifests in the real world.


The car will either feel great and validate all your hard work or not work for you and send you back to the drawing board. However, many people are not sure how to test drive a car effectively.


As a car is a significant investment, it’s vital to get everything you can out of the test drive.


To help with that, we've put together 5 things you'll want to check for when you’re test-driving a new car.


1. Drive on Roads You'll be Using Daily


To get a real sense of how the car drives, it’s important to find a test drive route that reflects your daily commute or how you use the car. If you usually drive on the highway, test drive on the highway. If you normally drive on country roads, take the test drive on country roads.


You need to be sure that the car feels good on the road types you drive on the most.


2. Look & Listen During Engine Startup


When you first turn on the car, watch carefully for any warning lights while also listening for any strange sounds. Many dashboard warning lights will illuminate to show they are working and then go out. That’s normal.


Any warning lights that stay on require further investigation.


The same for any sounds. Let the car idle and listen for rough running, strange whirring sounds, squeals or anything that sounds wrong.


If the engine doesn’t idle smoothly or doesn’t start immediately, that’s something to investigate further.


3. Look for Speed Bumps


We usually avoid speed humps wherever possible but you want to find some during a test drive. They are an excellent way to test the suspension and can alert you to issues you may not otherwise have noticed.


Approach the speed hump carefully and drive over it at a safe speed. Listen for bumps, clunks, squeaks or anything untoward and feel for anything that unsettles the car.


4. Find a Space to Manoeuver


Find a parking lot with some spare space to test the car. Put the steering on full lock and listen for anything other than the power steering motor. Watch how the car handles tight turns and slow-speed maneuvers.


If it’s safe to do so, gain some speed and hit the brakes hard. Listen for squealing, watch to see if the car pulls to one side and make sure the brakes and suspension work properly.


5. Find Some Traffic


No car is comfortable in stop and go traffic but it’s where many will spend most of their time. Take the car into the city or somewhere busy and get a feel for how the car handles sitting idle in traffic, how responsive it is when the lights go green and how capable it seems when it’s busy.


Sitting in traffic is also a good time to safely play around with the AC, heating and cooling, navigation, radio and any other feature the car may have. It’s exactly the time you’ll likely be doing it when you own the car!


These checks should be enough to give you an idea of whether the car is a good fit or not. When you’re ready to buy, contact one of our team for an auto loan quote.


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