As a buyer, it is important that you know what to look for when you test drive a car. Since there are so many cars out there, and since there are so many new features that are available to you today as a buyer, the more you are armed with, and the more specific your search is, the easier it is going to be for you to eventually find your dream car, and the most affordable car, that hits on all of the important factors when it is time for you to buy. The more you have in mind, and the more vehicles you test, the easier you will find it to eventually find the right fit.
Sit test -
Not all buyers do this; an initial sit test is going to help you decide if it is the right fit for you. Some things to look at here include:
- How comfortable the seat is, if it is a bucket or traditional seat.
- Do you have enough leg room and can you easily adjust, and do you have sufficient head room.
- Do your hands fit comfortably and sit comfortably on the wheel.
- Are all important amenities and features in front of you.
- Do you like the look and feel.
These, and any other questions you can think of as you are seated, should all be asked when you first sit down. If a car does not feel right, maybe this is a sign that it is not the ideal choice for you, and that you should keep looking until you find the one that fits your body, and all the many factors that you are looking for in a new car.
The look -
Once you are behind the wheel, and out on the road, you also have to make sure the car is the right fit. There are many things to look at and for. You have to make sure all gauges are easy to read and find (gas, oil, heat, tire pressure, etc). You also want to find a dashboard that is easy on the eyes, whether it is digital or analog; from the color combination, to the overall look and feel. You want to look at the central console; if there is a GPS, the radio dials, steering wheel, the shift gears, and everything else. The car has to fit in line with you as the driver, as well as with the aesthetic appeal you want to see, each time you sit down. So, these are some things to look at before you decide which car you are going to buy.
Driving visibility and clearance -
You want to make sure you have optimal open visibility; not only from the front dash, but also on all sides and the rear. You want to make sure the blind spot is not too far out of reach, and that you have indicators when driving. You want to make sure the steering wheel is proportionate, so you are not ducking and diving each time you have to make a maneuver; pretty much you are checking to see if the car is easy to drive, and if you can drive it safely at all times, when you are behind the wheel.
Steering and suspension -
You want the wheel to move easily, yet be firm enough if you need to make a quick maneuver. You also want to make sure you feel safe at all times, so you have to make sure the suspension is high off or close enough to the ground (depending on how you feel safer), when you drive. These are not make or break factors, but are very important if safety is a top concern for you on the road.
Brake test and power & transmission -
You have to check the brakes, and want to make sure they are responsive. Depending on your driving style, each driver is going to go for something different. Power and transmission will also depend on what you use the vehicle for, and what kind of drive you want. So, you have to test this, to make sure the car meets your specific guidelines, when you are trying to find the perfect new vehicle for your on road driving.
The features -
Today, you have many features available to you; if this is important, you have to find the car that offers them all. From entertainment like great sounds to listen to while you drive, to the safety features, like rear brake assist and parallel park assist, there are so many features offered to you as a driver today. You have to know which vehicles offer them, which ones are most important to you, how they work, and how well they work. During a test drive, you have to play with all of these features, if you really want to pick the right car for you, when it is time for you to buy one.
Quiet and smooth ride -
You want to feel safe in the car; a smooth, quiet ride is going to make you feel safe. So, you want a car that does not screech when you slam on the brakes, and one that does not make too many noises when you turn the wheel all the way to the left. When you are on a test drive, you have to test it all, so go through the motions. As a buyer, you have the right to test these things, so you might as well make sure the car meets your specific parameters before you buy one.
With so many features available to drivers today, these are some of the points you should go through, when you are ready to test drive a car. Since each driver wants something different, you have to decide which of these are most important, and which other factors are most important to you, so that you can make the right choice, and so you eventually do choose the right car, after you have taken a few out on a test drive, to find the right fit.
Hamish Jones is a freelance reporter from Melbourne, Australia. He occasionally test drives cars for his newspaper column.