What you should know before taking your new car on a test drive

What you should know before taking your new car on a test drive

About to test drive a new car? Then here are a few things you need to know before you get behind the wheel:

What do you want?

First and foremost consider what you want from your new car. Don’t simply wander about the car dealership without having given this prior thought, consider your priorities first.  Is it more important for you to have a high performance car or low insurance costs and good fuel economy?

Consider: do you want a car with ample room for all the family and good storage space or a compact city run around? Are you looking for a brand new auto or a second hand model with low mileage? These are the sorts of questions you want to be asking yourself before taking a car out for a test drive.

Review the reviews

Of course, what you think is the crux of the issue, but it’s worth having a look at online reviews too, so you obtain an overview of the pros and cons of the various cars you’re considering purchasing. A short test drive won’t give you the full picture, so peruse reviews in car journals beforehand to see if any common issues arise, like poor journey quality or difficulty in handling for example. They may well have had the opportunity to test drive their car over a longer period, on different terrain or in different weather conditions for example.

A second opinion is valuable

Bring a friend or member of your family along with you for the test drive, they may observe things you haven’t, and it’s worth getting a second opinion.

Planning to test drive a single car?

Having given your preferred car some thought, plan to test drive more than one car if you can. If you have a clear favourite, then arrange to test drive the model’s main competitor too.

Insurance is a must

Remember you must have insurance before driving a car. So it’s best to take out temporary car insurance before you embark on your test drive. Short term car insurance is typically available from 1 to 28 days and can prove an extremely cost-effective way to ensure you have the insurance you require.

Don’t assume the car dealership will provide you with insurance that is either good value or as comprehensive as you’d prefer. So speak to an experienced insurance broker beforehand to find the right temporary car insurance for your needs.

Taking the car home?

When arranging the test drive, ask if you can drive the car home and ideally keep it over night. That way you’ll have the chance to drive the car at different times of the day and night. You’ll also get an idea of how easy it is to manoeuvre into your driveway or park in your street. If taking the car home isn’t an option, then arrange a second test drive at a different time of day, so you have an idea of what the car is like to drive in different light levels.

Explore and play

Take the time to explore the features and layout of your prospective car. Even if you’re sitting stationary in the dealership car lot, give yourself the opportunity to familiarise yourself with a few key factors: can you get in and out of the car with ease? Are you comfortable in the driving seat and are things laid out as you wish? Is the storage adequate and positioned where you’d wish it to be? Are the safety features you want included? Also, are the sight lines good, can you see around the car and if not, are there systems to help you detect people or objects closeby.

Features and benefits

If you haven’t bought a car for some time, you’ll notice that technology has moved on swiftly and there are likely to be features you haven’t benefitted from before. So ensure you understand all of the features that are included in your preferred car.

Out on the road

Once your test drive is underway and you’re out on the road, consider such things as visibility, steering, handling and the ease of manoeuvring, plus the car’s stability, the smoothness of your journey, and the noise levels inside the car.

Make your intentions clear 

Back at the car dealership, make your intentions clear and let the salesperson know that you are test driving cars with a number of their competitors too – that way they may just offer you a better deal. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision quickly – take your time.

Your test drive

So there you have a few things to consider in the run up to your test drive and some things to bear in mind once it’s underway. Preparation is key if you want to find the make and model of car best suited to your requirements.


Robert Darnell

I’m Robert, the Grey Wanderer. After over 50 years in business, it was time for me to hang up my boots and enter the world of retirement. With so much time on my hands I decided to indulge in the two things I love most, writing and travel and so the Grey Wanderer was born.

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