You are at the used car dealership and you have found the perfect car—it is affordable, nice, and it has all the features you want. It may seem like the next logical step would be to pay for the car and drive off. Unfortunately, there is one more important thing you must do: the test drive.
The test drive is the most important part of your search—especially for used vehicles. Why? It gives you a lot of information regarding the health, status, and maneuverability of the car itself. But just driving the vehicle around won't help.
For an effective test drive, you need to pay attention and follow these five tips:
1. Drive As You Normally Would
A salesperson will likely accompany you during your first test drive. They will use this time to point out unique—or handy—features, focus on its strengths, and try to upsell the vehicle to you. While this is perfectly acceptable, it isn't helpful for determining how the vehicle drives.
When the first test drive is done, ask the dealership if you can take the car out for a second test drive alone. Use this time to drive the vehicle as you would normally drive—fast, slow, loud music, conversations, etc. By doing this, you will learn exactly how the car drives and whether it is suitable for you.
2. Map Out a Route
To really get a feel for how the vehicle handles, you will need to drive in various situations. Before you head to the dealership, map out a route you will use for your test drive. Include high-traffic areas, highways or freeways, parking lots, and rural area driving if you can. While you're on the test drive, also test out parking the vehicle. If there are any special sensors (rear sensors or alarms), you will want to use those as well.
By doing this, you will reveal exactly how the car works in nearly all situations. This will tell you whether it handles the way you want—or if another car might be a better fit.
3. Take Notes
During your test drive, take notes of how the car operates. Include all the major areas in your notes: noise, steering, wear and tear, comfort, brakes, and its ride. Bring a friend along and tell your friend to write down how well—or not—the car operates on each section. If you can't bring a friend along, record it with your phone.
4. Ride in Silence
At some point during your test drive, turn off the sound system and listen to the car. If it makes any noises, be sure to mention it to the salesperson. During this quiet time, you should also test the heating and air conditioning units to be sure they both work properly.
5. Bring Your Kids
Finally, if you have children make sure you include them in your test drive. Bring your children—and their gear—and set it up in the prospective car. Make sure that everything fits securely and comfortably into the vehicle. Once everything—and everyone—is in, start driving and test the childproof functions of the car.
You can also use this time to test out moving or reclining seats, window controls, cup holders, and anything else that may be used frequently with your family.
By using these simple test driving tips, you can be sure you're purchasing the right car for you—or your family—at the used car dealership.
Talk to your local dealer, such as U Pick U Save, for more information.
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