A test drive is one of the most important things you can do when buying a car. It can tell you whether a car that seems good for you on paper is really worth your money. And, yet, many drivers never bother. Don’t be one of them; book a test drive, and make sure you do the following.
It should go without saying, but despite the image we have of car sales teams, they’re mostly just working stiffs like you and me trying to get the job done. So, be nice to them; you can be firm if you need to be without being rude, and take a moment to make small talk and be kind. Good manners, as they say, cost nothing and can buy you many things.
Call Ahead To Make An Appointment
Set aside some time on a weekend or after work to go to the dealership specifically to drive the car. If you don’t, you’ll have to wait at the dealership for when a salesperson is free, and that, in turn, may set you up for high pressure tactics. Call ahead, confirm they have the car you want, and show up on time. Also make a point of saying you’ve got a time you need to be out the door by, which gives the dealership a defined time so they can plan accordingly.
Make It Clear It’s Just A Test Drive
You won’t be buying, and the sales team should know this up front. This is as much a test of the dealership as it is a test of the car. If taking a test drive is suddenly a problem when there’s no chance of making any money, that tells you much more about the dealership than it does about the car. If a salesperson pressures you, especially over the phone, find another dealership to work with.
Test The Car Thoroughly
Make a point, on each test drive, to take each car through its paces thoroughly. Drive it in both stop and go traffic and on the highway. Get a sense of how it accelerates, stops, and turns. Pay close attention to annoyances and other problems that might seem minor now, but will drive you crazy later. If you need equipment to do your job or run errands that you regularly need in the car, take a moment to see whether it fits, or at least bring a tape measure and work out if there’s enough space. Adjust the seat and steering to see how it feels to you. Don’t be shy about trying out every aspect of the car and seeing how it feels.
Ask Questions And Take Notes
Don’t hesitate to ask the salesperson questions about the car as they occur to you. What features does the car have? How do they work? What optional extras have been popular at the dealership? What extras does this model have that might be excised to lower the asking price?
When you’re done with the test drive, take a moment to write out your thoughts.
Above all, test drive any car on your list. The more options you have, the better informed your decision will be.