Four Tips to Have a Successful Test Drive
The short time you spend driving a vehicle before purchasing it is critical, but it’s easy to forget exactly what you’re looking for. Follow these five tips to ensure you’re prepared the next time you visit a dealership.
Do your homework before you step on a car lot. To come prepared, perform the following steps before visiting a dealership:
– Make a list of the cars you’re interested in driving.
– Note their MSRPs and ratings from a review site such as Edmunds.
– Call and schedule your test drives in advance. This way, you can confirm that the vehicles are available and avoid waiting for a salesperson when you’re ready to start driving. The dealership will also be able to prepare the vehicles in advance — i.e., washing them or jump-starting their batteries if needed.
Know Your Wants and Needs
Think carefully about your wants and needs before visiting a dealer. For example, try not to get too committed to a certain color. If you’re flexible, you may be able to get a deal on the same model in a different color or configuration. It’s also important, however, to note the “musts” for you, such as having a vehicle in a certain trim or one with certain safety features. Don’t budge on the essentials, but consider compromising on some wants to score a better deal.
Don’t Let Flash Distract You
How responsive is the vehicle? Are you comfortable with the turning radius, and do the seats feel nice and supportive? How about the windshield — is it easy to see the road, or do you notice troublesome blind spots? Take note of these problems. Don’t write them off, and don’t get distracted by flashy seating materials, gadgets in the dashboard, or a color touch screen. These innovations are great, but the allure will wear off — and unfortunately, you’ll have to live with everything else you don’t like about the car.
At the same time, don’t discount your tech and style needs. A rearview camera is a fantastic convenience, for instance, and it’s fine if you don’t want to compromise on that. Just don’t get so swept up in tech and style that you start overlooking major problems.
Simulate Your Daily Commute
The salesperson you’re working with should pick up on the fact that you’ve come prepared and know what you’re looking for. Tell them that you’re comparing several models, and make the effort to drive the car on highways, on access roads, and in any situations you experience as part of your daily commute (such as touch-and-go traffic). This will help you get an authentic feel for the vehicle. Tell the salesperson where you want to go during the test drive to ensure that you learn what you need to about the vehicle.
Remember these tips, and call ahead to reserve your favorites from the inventory. With a little preparation, test driving a vehicle is tons of fun and extremely productive.