Test Drive Tips
When buying a new car, a thorough test drive is vital. It's your best chance to make sure you will be comfortable, that you'll enjoy driving the car and that it's right for all your needs. If you're buying a second–hand car, the test drive is even more imperative. It's your main opportunity to make sure there are no mechanical problems, and everything is in good working order.
Once you have compiled a shortlist of cars that meet all your needs and wants, it’s time to go test driving. Take a friend or family member with who might pick up on good and bad points of the car you might miss. A short test drive near the dealership is a good start, but a lengthier test drive is better, allowing you to “live” with the car for a bit longer. Request if you may take the vehicle out for at least a 45-minute drive - at a minimum, make sure the test drive includes everything from parking and low speed manoeuvring to highway driving.
Before you drive off, it’s important to know what you might be liable to pay in the event you’re involved in an accident during a test drive, such as insurance excesses. Before you sign a test drive agreement, make sure you read it to ensure you’re comfortable with all the conditions.
In a new car, the test drive will help you determine whether you like the driving feel and comfort of the car, and whether it’s a practical fit for your needs.
A used car test drive is a bit different in that you’re also looking for mechanical faults or other issues that may have arisen as a result of wear and tear or poor maintenance.
Buying a used car from a name you can trust is advisable. With Imperial Auto you can even book a test drive online. Simply click on the car you fancy, fill in the enquiry form and remember to tick the “book a test drive” box. Remember to take your valid drivers licence along with you.
Use our test drive checklist to comprehensively consider every aspect of a prospective car purchase.
Test drive checklist:
Before you drive off, check if there is any exterior damage such as dents, chips or scratches on the body work. Make sure they’re noted by the salesperson or you could find yourself liable for damage you didn’t do.
Engine and suspension
The car should run smoothly during accelerating, decelerating and when driving steadily. The water temperature gauge should remain in the safe range (or the temperature light should stay off). Rattling or knocking sounds might suggest incorrect tuning or engine or suspension wear.
Steering and brakes
Steering should be responsive with no vibration or 'free play'. Ensure the car stops smoothly, strongly and in a straight line when the brake pedal is pressed.
Clutch and gears
Check gear changes are smooth and decisive.
Adjust the driver’s seat, steering wheel and mirrors before you start. Ensure you are completely comfortable, with clear vision to the front and rear. Sit in all the seating positions. Check if there is enough room for the intended occupants.
Locate and test the main switches, such as the wipers/washers, head lights and hazard lights.
Air Con and Technology
Turn on the air-conditioning to ensure it works effectively. Try out all the technology, like the satellite navigation, Bluetooth and radio.
Check all seat belts are in working order and If you have young children, take along car seats to test if they fit in the car with easily accessible anchor points and seat belt buckles.
Check the boot size to ensure it will accommodate any large items you will need to carry, such as golf clubs, prams or luggage.