You're in the market for a new car, brand new or used you must take it for a test drive. But, what do you need to look out for when driving aimlessly around the town with the sales guy sat next to you? We have compiled a checklist of test driving tips to ensure you make the most of your test drive.
Insurance, if you're buying from a main dealer then insurance shouldn't be a problem. They will want to take a copy of your driving license but you should then be covered under their fully comprehensive insurance policy. If you're buying from a private seller, the insurance will need to be arranged from your side.
Take at least 30 minutes to test drive the car and make sure you drive on all surfaces and road types. It's no use if you spend just 5 minutes driving up the road and back, or down the motorway, off at the next junction and back again. You need to know that this car is going to suit you on every road type and the only way to find this out is to take it for a thorough spin.
Comfort is incredibly important, is the seat and steering wheel fully adjustable to a position you and any other drivers of the vehicle are happy with? Can you see mirrors and all of the instruments and controls clearly? Spend time before driving off to adjust to your comfort level and by taking this approach will mean you set off with an objective head on. The last thing you want is to get the car home, your other half takes it out to the local supermarket that evening only to find she can barely reach the pedals and struggles to position the mirrors for full visibility.
Reversing is just as important as speeding down the dual carriageway and something that all drivers need to do, most probably daily. Take the test car to a local car park and try reverse bay parking to see if you are happy with maneuvering the vehicle and visibility is good enough.
If you have children, it might be a good idea to take them and their car seats with you. Make sure that the car seats fit into the back of the car and that the children are comfortable.
What to look out for and more technical tips.
The engine should be quiet and pull smoothly and listen for unusual knocking or rattling from the suspension. Is the engine cold on startup? You can check by putting your hand on the bonnet. If the seller won't let you see the car when cold he could be hiding startup issues such as rattling or starting difficulties.
The steering should be easy and responsive.
Push hard on the brakes, they should give you confidence and stop in a straight line.
Do the gears move smoothly between one another, how high is the biting point of the clutch? If it is very close to the top it could be worn and need replacing.
Finally, stay level headed. It's easy to get excited about a new car and let the day run away with you. Sleep on it, speak to a friend or take half an hour away from the dealer to think about whether or not this is the right car for you.