How to Land Yourself a “Winning” Test Drive
It was just a few years ago that people shopped for cars in person. In other words, they didn’t spend a countless number of hours on various websites looking for a vehicle – they drove around visiting dealerships and speaking to salesmen, while making mental notes of what they saw. And yes, a lot of people still do that now. But more and more individuals are relying solely on the internet to buy cars. That means abandoning the practices of their parents, one of them being the test drive. However, taking a car out for a spin before buying it is an important part of the car buying process, and you will miss out on some key benefits if you skip one. More importantly, it’s essential that you learn how to make the most out of a test drive.
Keep Your Expectations on the Right Track
A lot of drivers believe they can have their dream car (perhaps it’s a luxurious, fuel efficient sedan with hybrid technology) without paying a hefty price. Other drivers trick themselves into believing that they’ll find a frugal-priced used car (and by that we mean cheap), to perform without a single faulty part – which may be possible, but highly unlikely. What we’re trying to get at here, is the importance of keeping a realistic mindset. You should think this way the moment you decide to buy a car. However, going into a test drive thinking that you’ll automatically buy the car you’re sampling is not a good idea. That leads us to our next point.
Option A Isn’t the Only Option
Now that we live in a world of instant gratification, it’s common to see people choose the first thing they see. The same is true for cars. If drivers like the sound of the engine, a particular dashboard feature, or just the interior styling of the car itself, they may tell themselves that this is what they need. And that’s why there are so many frustrated drivers out there! They’re driving a car in which they didn’t put enough thought to. If you’re planning on buying a new vehicle, make it a goal to test drive a few other options before deciding that your first choice is the best one. It may not be so.
Take Their Word
Be prepared to hear a flurry of suggestions from others who know you’re looking to buy a new vehicle. They’re looking out for you. Among them car enthusiasts, close friends, family members and even salespeople themselves, who may recommend a certain type of car or brand based on your needs. Give their advice consideration. Your heart may be set on a BMW, while they might recommend a Honda for various reasons. Ultimately, the choices are yours, but the suggestions of others may have merit in the sense that you could choose a vehicle that’s more affordable or practical for your daily routine. Even if someone recommends a more expensive or luxurious vehicle, they might tell you this to help you see that the “pricier” car might actually carry more value.
Now for the main event: the test drive. Ultimately, you don’t need to treat it like a road trip, or a leisurely drive out into the back roads. It’s a means of getting to know the vehicle to a greater extent – what it feels like to accelerate, steer and brake in this car. You’re also paying attention to unusual sounds (especially if this is a used car that may need repairs) that may indicate a problem that clues you into the real state of this car. It’s important that you subject the vehicle to different functions if possible, such as driving uphill, making tight turns and sharp braking. The “feel” of the vehicle works like feedback to tell you what shape it’s in. And don’t be afraid to fiddle with its interior features. You should get acquainted with the dashboard, stereo controls and other devices such as your GPS and wireless phone connection. It’s good to have a sense of what your daily drive will be like before the car becomes a part of your life.
There are a few “notes” you want to take while test driving your vehicle of interest. That means being as observant as possible while you’re behind the wheel. It’s easy to get distracted in a test drive. There could be a new car smell, the sound of the engine, the smooth feel of the steering wheel – all of these things can take your attention off the main purpose (although taking note of them can be a good thing too). Every moment spent in this vehicle should be devoted to the positives and the negatives you notice about this vehicle. After the session is over, all the observations you’ve made should come together to help you make a buying decision.
Get the Wheels Rolling
With all that’s been said, it’s also important for you to know how to set up a test drive appointment. It’s not science, but planning it properly certainly goes a long way. By taking the right steps beforehand, you’ll make it more likely to have the smoothest test drive possible.
Tips for a Stress-Free Test Drive
- Look out dealers in your area (neighbourhood, town, city)
- Call in advance for a spot
- Call in if you need to reschedule
- Contact multiple dealerships (keeps your options open)
- Arrive on time for test drive
Test of Tires
So if you think test drives are out of fashion or irrelevant, think again. They are worth every second of your time, and a helpful “tool” for helping you decide whether a car is a good choice or not. After all, sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle gives you a first hand experience of how it runs. In fact, many people have made the decision to buy or pass based on the test drive itself. That’s why it’s important for you set time aside to take a vehicle you want out for a spin (or two). You’ll quickly realize where your heart lies after doing so.