How to Test Drive a Car


You’ve seen the photos, read the reviews, and heard others rave about it. However, you can’t tell a car will meet all your expectations unless you go for a test drive. You can’t just return it to the store. But test driving a car requires a bit of research. Here are the things to consider before, during and after you test-drive a car.

Where to Start

First, research what you want. Before you visit the dealership, read up on different vehicles. Check new car ratings and road test reviews; Edmunds is a good place to start. Pick around three cars to drive so you can more easily compare impressions.

Next, schedule an appointment to test-drive so the salesperson can locate and bring the cars to the front before you even show up.

What to Check Before the Test Drive

Check the paint color, which might look different than in photos or at night. Make sure to see the car in daylight before making a decision. Also, have a second choice for color in case one is hard to find.

Next, look at the cargo space, considering important items such as luggage, signage, musical instruments, etc., especially if you travel or haul large items to work. Convenient features include folding rear seats or pass-throughs for long items. Also, is there room to install a child seat? If you need one, make sure the car accommodates it.

In addition, check whether:

  • You can get in and out of the car easily.
  • There’s enough head-, leg-, and hip-room.
  • The driver’s seat is comfortable and adjustable.
  • Brake pedals are comfortable or adjustable.
  • The controls are easy to see and use.
  • You can see outside each window.

Test Driving a Car

Now it’s time to adjust the seat and mirrors, put on your seat belt, and turn off the radio. Set out on the highway or on hills if they’re part of your regular driving experience. Tell the salesperson you want to explore beyond a predetermined route.

As you’re driving, carefully evaluate the:

  • Engine/road/tire noise you can hear in the cabin.
  • Feel of acceleration on the highway or driving uphill.
  • Brake response; the pedal should be firm yet easy to press.
  • The suspension is smooth on all road surfaces.
  • Steering response and overall handling.

Also, test out the touchscreen, Bluetooth, apps, and navigation features. Assess the layout of steering wheel controls as well to decide whether the car’s interface works for you.

Back at the Dealership

The sales team will now likely proceed with the buying process. Before negotiating, decide whether you like the car or not. If you haven’t decided after test driving a car, express your thanks and take the salesperson’s business card. You can always call later to talk price; in fact, having multiple appointments can make the bargaining stage easier.

By following this process and considering all your questions during the test drive, finding the best car for your needs is achievable.

Find the Car You Can Afford at CarWorld

CarWorld has a hand-picked inventory of pre-owned, leading-brand vehicles. Each is carefully inspected to ensure it’s road-ready. Offering financing, sales specials, and trade-in deals, we can help you get into a car you can afford without settling for less. Visit our Hawthorne dealership or call 833-219-9951 today to schedule an appointment.

Author: CarWorld