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Published Date: 12/06/2017

Whether you’re looking to buy a new or used car, going for a test drive is one of the most important steps you need to take. Going for a spin out on the road is the best way to get a feel for the car you’re interested in. This will help you decide whether it’s going to be the right purchase for you. On top of this, it gives you the chance to discover if there are any issues with the car which may prevent you from buying it, or allow you to negotiate a lower price. Here we look at some of the things you should be looking out for when you test drive a new car.

Take your time

A test drive is your chance to see if you feel comfortable in the car, so don’t rush it. Make sure you have plenty of time to get used to it. Some dealers even let you keep a car overnight, so take advantage of this if you can.

Make your test drive varied

Try to drive along a variety of roads, from the streets of town to quieter open roads, and on the motorway if possible. Don’t be shy to push it a little when you’re on more challenging roads, to see how the car handles under pressure. And try out a few manoeuvres like a three-point turn and reverse parking.

Take someone with you

A second opinion is always beneficial, whether it’s to see how the car feels to them, and what it’s like to be a passenger in. This could be important if you’ve got a family to think of. While it can be useful to have a salesperson on board to ask some questions, it’s a good idea to see if you can drive the car without the pressure of their presence. Don’t let your test drive be turned into one long sales pitch.

Check how the car fits

It’s likely you’ll spend lots of time in your new car, so it’s a good idea to see how well the car fits you. From trying out different seat and steering wheel positions to using the controls, there’s lots of things your driving experience depends on. Don’t forget to check your blind spot, and make sure your view’s not obscured by anything.

Is it practical?

Ask yourself questions such as “will it be easy to get the kids in”, and “is the boot big enough?” If you have the car overnight, put these questions to the test by loading up the car and taking your little ones out for a drive. Is the boot low enough, how do the seats fold down, can you get in and out easily? The proof of practicality is in the pudding.

Test the brakes

We use our brakes a lot when driving, and they can be the difference between life and death in the event of an accident. Make sure the brakes feel good, and try an emergency stop to see how stable the car is under extreme braking.

Be on top of your senses

Your senses are crucial during a test drive. From making sure you start with a cold engine so you know the seller isn’t hiding starting issues, to listening for unwanted rattles from the suspension, you should be aware of all the sights, sounds and smells of your drive. Make sure the engine, clutch and steering feels smooth, with no excessive vibrations or crunching gear changes to worry about. Be on guard during your test drive, and you’ll be on the right track. 

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