Tips For The Test Drive

  1. Do your homework. What type of car works for your lifestyle? You might not want a Lamborghini for your 50-mile-round-trip commute.
  2. Schedule an appointment with the car dealer. Actually, schedule several appointments on the same day. This will force you to drive several cars, and it gives you a legitimate excuse to leave the dealership.
  3. Make a list of the cars and features, and check the various consumer websites for the most recent car reviews. Maybe the quality for your beloved brand has slipped.
  4. Pick a day solely for test driving. Don’t buy a car on the same day you test drive. The smell of a new car can have an intoxicating effect.
  5. Make a checklist. Consumer Reports has a checklist of what to look at and think about when test driving.
  6. Bring a buddy and your stuff. Once you walk into a dealership, the goal of the salesman is to get you to buy a car. A friend can keep you sane, and focused. Also, if you have a car seat or a bike, bring that so your know how easy it is to put your cargo and a passenger in your car.
  7. Comfort is key. Can you easily get in and out? Do you actually fit in the seat? Think about your car and body in the future. That red sports car may look cute now, but will you be able to get in and out of it in, say, 5 years?
  8. Bring your own photocopies of your license. To test drive, most dealerships will photocopy your license. Bring your own copy, ask for documents back, and destroy the copies. Identity theft around vehicles is on the rise. According to, “In the 1990s, around 10 percent of stolen vehicles were obtained by using fraudulent applications. By the 2000s, that percentage had ballooned to 70 to 75 percent.”
  9. Walk around the car. Check for scratches, rust, missing pieces, etc. even with a new car. Vehicles can be damaged during shipping (and test drives) so be wary.
  10. Check the tech. Can you easily pair your phone with Bluetooth? Do you know what all the beeping noises mean?
  11. What’s the fuel? Find out the fuel economy. Does the vehicle take premium gas or need special maintenance?
  12. Drive the car. If most of your commute is on the highway, then drive on the highway. Try to drive over a bumpy road or railroad track to check how it rides.