Making the Most of Your Test Drive: 5 Things to Remember

Making the Most of Your Test Drive: 5 Things to Remember

When it comes time to upgrade your ride, one of the first things you’ll want to do is hit the lot and start test-driving dream vehicles. And while this can be one of the most fun aspects of vehicle-buying, don’t forget that it’s your prime opportunity to learn a lot more about your potential vehicular candidates.

Beyond the basics, consider the following five bonus tips to remember when test-driving.

Play the passenger

One benefit of doing a road test with a salesperson before taking a solo run (see “Go your own way” below) is that you can get first-hand experience ensuring your future passengers enjoy their rides. This is prime time for you to check out features not related to how the car drives—such as temperature control, audio, seat comfort, etc.

Find the flicker

Eyeball the lights throughout the inside of the vehicle—flickering of any kind, whether it’s on the dashboard or in the overhead lighting, can be an indicator of electrical issues. While some of these issues can be solved by replacing a bulb here or there, if you notice multiple signs of flickering in the interior, it’s worth having the wiring inspected before signing any documentation.

Conduct the sniff test

Odd smells can be an indicator of a lot of things—particularly in a used car. Test out the AC and/or heat and be aware of anything out of the ordinary. Do you smell a mold or mildew presence? There could be something wrong with the ventilation system in the vehicle—or it may have been damaged in flooding. Make note of anything that smells off—and it doesn’t hurt to bring along a friend or family member who can quickly identify evidence of any significant damage in a vehicle.

Go your own way

Depending on the rules of the dealership with which you’re test-driving, you may be able to take the vehicle out for a spin without the salesperson in the car with you. This affords you the opportunity to try out a wider variety of road types and determine if the vehicle has the mettle to handle more than the smooth, low-speed-limit roads the salesperson may tell you to take. Whether you’re able to take a solo test drive or not, make sure to get a sense of how the vehicle will handle at a variety of speeds and road conditions.

Park—then park again

Test-driving isn’t just about driving. Test your comfort level with blind spots in the vehicle by adjusting the various mirrors. Is it more than you prefer to deal with? And don’t forget to give parking a go—this includes parallel, standard, corner-backing and whatever other style you encounter on a regular basis. Does the vehicle handle well? Does it shift into park without incident? Does the parking brake work properly? Test these stationary functions in addition to the mobile ones.

When it comes to financing your next vehicle purchase, you have someone in your corner—talk to the Sioux Falls Federal Credit Union team about how to approach this process.

Car-Buyer's How-To Downloadable Guide