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November 2018

4 Test Drive Essentials to Check on Your Next Car Test

The test drive is, arguably, the most important part of buying a car. It isn’t enough for a car to look the part, it also needs to deliver for your driving needs. After all, a car is a major life investment, so you need to feel comfortable behind the wheel, and in a car that inspires confidence while driving.

business man in a dark suit smiling while driving a car

So, read on, and find out the four most important things you should look for when out driving a potential car. This blog will assume you have done a thorough pre-inspection, have your own list of car “must-haves”, and have researched the cars you are interested in. Ideally, you will be ready to drive out of the dealership, testing your potential next car!

1. Comfort

The first thing to do is check how comfortable it is. Start with the driver’s area. Is the seat cushioned and properly supported? Can you adjust it for height, or adjust the bolstering on the side? Can you adjust the steering column, or is it fixed? Are seat warmers (or coolers) necessary for you – and are they working?

Then check the back seats, especially if you plan to transport people. Is there enough room for two or three adults? Is it easy to get into and access? And what if you are transporting kids? It is not a bad idea to bring along your child seat to get a feel of how it will sit in the car.

And what about the storage? Are you wanting to carry gear - or large amounts of family shopping - in the boot? Can the seats fold flat? Take the time to consider everything, even whether you can or cannot store your drinks while on the road. Figuring out the car’s storage capabilities now (as opposed to when you have bought the car) will save you unwanted frustration. After all, a car’s comfort and practicality both need to be right for its purpose!

2. Engine and transmission

Take the car to a motorway. If possible, smoothly accelerate from zero to near the speed limit. You want to be listening out for any unusual engine whines, or any visible smoking while the engine is under strain.

If the car you are testing is a manual transmission, pay attention to the clutch feel. How smooth is it? If a clutch has a particularly sharp bite, it could be worn out. Gears shouldn’t crunch either, so listen out when you shift into them.

Is the car an automatic or Tiptronic? If so, make sure you play close attention to the way the transmission shifts through the gears. It should be smooth and reasonably quick. Different automatic transmissions will switch through gears at different speeds, with newer dual-clutch transmissions shifting noticeably faster.

3. Steering, braking, and suspension feel

Steering should be tight and responsive. There should be no vibration, and minimal vagueness or “play”.

The brakes should work smoothly and powerfully, inspiring confidence. Different cars will have different braking distances also – so your test drive is your chance to get acquainted with how this particular car brakes.

Take the car through several corners, to understand how the car’s suspension handles body roll and composure through the corner. Rougher roads are also important. Will the car remain composed when pavement gives way to gravel?

4. Driving quality of life

Get a feel for the visibility of the car. Are you able to stay aware of everything happening on the road? If visibility is especially poor, are there blind-spot monitors?

And what about the road noise? Is it unbearably loud inside the cabin? Your new car needs to be comfortable to drive, and inspire confidence on the road.

Thinking critically about the drive

Before you pull the trigger, a simple question needs to be answered: does the car meet your personal requirements? If there are compromises, what are they?

Make sure you test drive several cars. You want to be able to get a good idea about what and why you are buying in this particular class of vehicle.

Lastly, think about the service and maintenance this sort of car will need. Think about car protection as well; vehicles are complex, and sometimes things go wrong. It is a good idea to figure out a rough schedule and budget for future routine maintenance, so you get an idea about the cost of running this car.

Let us help you find your next car

If you are looking for a car dealer in Auckland, talk to us. We have an incredible range of affordable cars for sale in Auckland, suitable for all sorts of driving. Contact us today for help finding your next vehicle purchase.

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