Getting ready for a test drive

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Auto and Trucks

Looks can be deceptive. A shining car body with the right blend of steel, fiber, glass and rubber may often be misleading. That is why the smartest way to choose a car is by having a test drive, and that too, a thorough and thoughtful one.

You must keep the following points in mind when going for a test drive:

1. There are a lot of automobile magazines that provide valuable information and reviews on cars. This information is also available on several car websites and car forums. Go through these details to learn the experience of others regarding the car you want to buy.

2. If you go for the test drive during lunch break or when you are in a hurry, its advantage salesman and disadvantage you. Take the test drive when you have a lot of time and not in a hurry.

3. Never allow the salesman to disturb your test drive. Be sure nobody or nothing comes in between you and the car and keep your focus totally on your driving. Get your doubts cleared bur make sure the salesman sticks to the point.

4. Take the car to roads that are bumpy, have sharp curves or patches. Also drive on highways. This will help you in testing the cars suspension, handling, comfort and speed. Never stick on to the route designated by the company. Instead, choose your own.

5. Try turning the car at different speeds to get a good feel. Try out a few full circles which will test the cars turning radius.

6. To know the real strength of the car, just push the pedal down. Also, see if it brakes hard to check if it can handle sudden stops.

7. This is a very crucial factor as you hit the road and try changing lanes. Check if you could focus quickly at the mirrors, without needing those extra seconds.

8. It is important to check the cars heating and cooling system. The time taken for the AC and the heater to peak up is so vital when you are out on those long trips.

9. Be a child when it comes to inspecting the interiors of the car. Push all the buttons and turn all the knobs. Check the accessibility of the controls, leg room and all those little details.

10. Have a friend with you when you test drive. Sitting back, he can tell you how it feels when the car runs fast, runs on bumpy roads and when the brakes are applied.

11. Check the adjustability of the seats so that they are comfortable. Do it yourself to be sure about this.

12. Buckle up the seat belt to check how comfortable it is. Make sure the buckle doesnt hide somewhere between the seats.

13. Trunks can be opened with a key or by releasing the locking lever from inside. Check if the trunk springs open or just unhooks.

14. Make sure you dont hear any unwanted, disturbing noise either from the outside or inside of the car. Make a careful note of all the sounds the car makes.

15. Everyone tends to make mistakes like leaving the keys inside and leaving the lights on. Do these in the car and check how the car handles these. Also test all the warning signs and sounds.

16. It is always better to test drive all the cars that youve short listed for buying. This gives you a good platform to compare the performance of all the cars, before you choose the best one.

17. You might have missed something during your first test drive. There is no harm in taking a second one. Do it with a fresh approach and try to get things clear this time.