Buying a new (or new-to-you) car is an investment. While it’s easy to want to immediately jump in a car and take it for a spin, it’s important that you take time to ensure the vehicle you are purchasing is right for you and your lifestyle.
To help you prepare, here are seven things you cannot miss as you test drive your future car!
1. Do Your Homework
A desk is setup with a laptop, notebook, and other knick-knacks as a woman researches.
Like any large purchase, it’s best to do your homework before you make the trek to the dealership. Make a list of features you want and car models you are considering. Do the models stack up against the features you want and your budget?
As you list the features, be sure to add specific things relevant to your lifestyle and home. If you have a long commute, it may make more sense to consider a hybrid or another fuel-efficient vehicle.
Measure your garage or parking space and compare that against the length, width, and height of the car. A large SUV might not be the best option if your garage was built for a compact car.
Additionally, call the dealership to check on current offers. Deals are continually changing, which may help if you are deciding between two models. Your dealership can also answer questions regarding financing, features, and what to bring with you when you visit.
2. Bring a Friend
A woman passenger looks back into the rear of a vehicle.
More than likely, you will not be the only person riding in your car. Bring a friend who will help you check the boxes as well as test the passenger side to make sure everything feels comfortable.
Bring any extras you drive with often, like your bicycle or a baby car seat, so you can make sure that both you and your passenger can load/unload the car quickly.
3. Check the TechA hand holds an iPhone in front of the dash of a car.
Most newer vehicles come with technology in them. Take time to review the tech features. Pair your phone with the Bluetooth and make sure it works. You can also download apps beforehand to make sure you understand how to use them when you get into the vehicle.
Additionally, many safety features now come with audio warnings. Make sure you know what the tones are and what they mean before you take the car on the road so you are not surprised when a sudden bell rings as you change lanes.
4. Comfort is CrucialThe interior of a car with leather and suede seats is shown
While you are inside the car, make sure you are comfortable. Get in and out multiple times to make sure that it is easy for you, considering both the present and the next five to ten years. Check for things your body needs to keep you healthy while driving.
For instance, if you have lower back problems, it may be good to have a chair that has lumbar support. Additionally, you will want to make sure the headrest fits and your legs are comfortable, not stretched or cramped while driving.
5. Walk Around
A man holds plants as he uses his foot to engage the sensor that opens the back hatch door of a Honda CR-V
Don’t be afraid to take your time to walk around the car and check things out. Are the tires in good condition? On which side is the gas tank? Check to make sure that there are no apparent signs of damage, including scratches and rust.
As you walk around, note features that are important for your lifestyle. Do you need a rack for camping gear? Is it easy to hitch your bicycle to the car? Is the bed of the truck the right size for what you need? If you tow things often, is the vehicle compatible? If there is a railing for getting into the car, does it hinder more than help?
Considering the exterior when making your initial checklist beforehand will help you and your friend make sure the car features match up to your wish list.
6. Drive Your Way
A man is showing driving a car from the viewpoint of the back passenger.
Now comes the main event–taking the car off the lot to complete the test drive. If you mostly drive on the highway, then take a spin on a nearby freeway. Drive the car over a bumpy road or a railroad track to see how it feels for both you and the passenger.
If you plan on using the car on dirt or gravel, check with your salesperson to see if you can drive on a nearby dirt road. If you are using a parking garage every day, find one nearby to test how it handles as you park.
Whatever your lifestyle, try to recreate it as much as possible. A new vehicle is an investment you will likely use daily, so it is vital that you feel comfortable driving it in your daily life.
7. Your Mechanic is Your Best Friend
A car mechanic inspects the undercarriage of a vehicle.
Lastly, if you are reasonably certain this is the car for you, check with your salesperson to see if you can drive the car to your mechanic for them to inspect. Call your mechanic ahead of time with the day and time they should expect you so that they can reserve time to look the car over.
You want to not only ensure the car is in excellent condition, but also that your mechanic feels comfortable working on it. Many mechanics will do this as a free service to their returning clients.
Having a professional you trust will likely ease your mind about making this investment. The mechanic can also act as another pair of eyes and help you make sure this is the car that will fit your lifestyle.
The Full Checklist
Below we have included a printable checklist for you to download. When you are ready to take a test drive, contact us. We are ready to help you get into one of our best in class vehicles!