Reasons to Do a Test Drive and Things to Look Out For
Test driving your new car isn’t a luxury, it’s an absolute must; because a great looking car might get you from A to B but another car might get you there in more comfort and safety.
Of course, taking a test drive is one thing, but if you don’t have a good idea of what you’re testing, you might not get the most from the experience. That’s why the guys at Hatfields Jaguar have put together this simple Test Drive Checklist.
These are the questions you need to ask and the things you need to do before choosing the right car for you, especially if you’re buying a second hand car.
Test Drive Checklist
• Are you getting a long enough test?
• Have you tested the car on all kinds of road?
• Can you get in and out of the car easily and comfortably?
• Can you adjust the seat and steering wheel position for maximum comfort?
• Can you see all of the instruments clearly and reach all of the controls?
• Do you have good visibility to the front and the rear?
In the Back
• Are children comfortable in the back?
• Can child seats fit in the car?
• Is there space for luggage, shopping and other items?
• Can you easily load and unload items in the boot?
Under the Bonnet
• Is the engine cold before you start up?
• Does the engine start properly on ignition?
• Can you see excessive smoke when starting the car?
• Is the engine excessively loud?
Steering, Suspension and Brakes
• Can you hear unusual noises from the engine such as rattling or clunking suspension?
• Is the steering wheel responsive? Can you feel vibrations or looseness?
• Are the brakes sufficient? Is the stopping distance good and does the car stop in a straight line?
Clutch and Gears
• Can you engage all gears smoothly?
• Where is the clutch bite point? Is it excessively high?
• Are other family members or significant others happy with the car?
You need to take your time when test driving a new car; and should allow for at least half an hour of driving time because you don’t want to feel pressed to make a decision.
If you’re against the clock, a canny salesman could press you to make a decision. Pardon the pun, but if you try to rush a test drive, you could be putting the salesperson in the driving seat.
Some dealerships offer extended test drives and even overnight tests, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Try to plan as many driving experiences into your test drive as possible. If you spend the majority of your time putting hours into motorway driving, a test drive around the city just won’t do.
Ok, you don’t have to hit the dirt track but an effective test drive will factor your requirements into the trip.
Once you’re behind the wheel, there are a number of simple tests you need to carry out before you even start the engine. Can you see all of your instruments clearly? Can you reach all of the controls? Are you comfortable in your seat; and just as comfortable getting in and out of the car?
Visibility is also essential and pulling a reverse park on your test drive is a good way to assess your lines of vision to the rear, along with any blind spots.
Now that you’re sorted, it’s time to consider the rest of the family. If you have children, it is worthwhile taking them along on your test drive; to ensure that they are comfortable and safe before you sign on the dotted line.
You’d rather listen to them complain about discomfort on a thirty minute test drive, than every drive you ever take after buying the car.
Next up, it’s time to take a look at the boot. Is there room for everything you need, whether it’s shopping bags, suitcases or family dogs? Is the boot sill low enough to make life easy when putting stuff in and taking it out?
These aren’t the first things you think about when taking a test drive but they are the first things you’ll have to think about before taking a trip with family and friends. It’s important to establish the basics and then it’s on to the technical details.
Before setting off, place your hand on the bonnet of the car to see if it is cold. If it’s warm, your salesman may be trying to hide some start troubles by recently turning the engine over.
Once you’ve turned the key, you’ll need to see if the engine gives off a lot of smoke or excessive noise. These are also indicators of mechanical trouble.
Other noises to look out for include a rattling suspension or crunching gearbox. You shouldn’t notice either.
It goes without saying, but you want your steering wheel to be constantly engaged and responsive and you want your brakes to brake; in good time and in a straight line. You should also be aware of the height of the clutch biting point. If it’s especially high, you’re likely to have a worn out clutch and could be paying for repairs not long after paying for the car.
If you’re happy at this point, it’s likely that you’ve had a constructive and successful test drive.
But don’t forget, you might not be the only person that is going to spend a lot of time in the car. Do friends, family or significant others like your choice too? It’s an important factor and you shouldn’t forget to take this into consideration.
Lastly, you might want to test more than one of a particular model of car, especially if it’s a car that’s unfamiliar to you. A lot of people upgrade in their favourite car brand or purchase newer models of the same car. But if you’re looking to move to something completely new, it can be useful to test drive more than one car. This will give you a better idea of what the car should feel like to drive and what you can expect.
Happy testing and if it happens to be a Hatfields dearlership you are test driving at please let them know where you saw the article!