Buying a New Car? Follow These Test Driving Tips

If you are buying a new car, following these test driving tips can help save you some major headaches later on – even if you are only test driving brand new cars. Did you know less than 50% of people say they spent less than a half an hour test driving new cars??! Spending thirty thousand dollars or more, and committing four to six years of your life to paying a car payment – it seems insane to spend less than thirty minutes checking it out. So be sure to make the right decision using these test drive tips on what to look for:

tips for test driving                                        This post is sponsored by Browning Dodge.


Research and have an idea of what vehicles you are interested in, and that fit your budget
Research reputable dealerships in your area, and call and make an appointment
Be sure to bring your drivers license, and insurance ID cards
Research your financing options: either bring a pre-approval info, or bring your pay stubs for financing at the dealership

The Test Drive Begins as Soon as You Start Looking at the Vehicle

  • Check out the vehicle for any external issues: dents, scratches, cracks, or rust. Be sure to explain the windshield closely as well.
  • Check the tires  – see how much life is left in them, and also check for signs of uneven wear; if the wear is uneven, there can be an alignment issue.
  • Check the turn signals, brake lights, windshield wipers, any hatch or trunk (open and close several times) seat belts, spare tire, knobs to radio, etc, check to make sure all windows open and close correctly, and doors lock properly as well

Start the Car, and Let it Idle for Several Minutes

  • Listen for the engine to start smoothly, and check for any troubling noises like a click, whine or rattle
  • Check the radio, the heat and the AC unit and run them for several minutes to make sure that they are working correctly as well
  • Check the dashboard for any warning lights and be sure all the gauges are working. . Once the car warms up, the temperature gauge should be at the midpoint. Closer to “hot” can be a sign of overheating.
  • Sit back and imagine taking a road trip in this vehicle; are the seats comfortable? Enough leg room? Will the kids have enough room in the back? Are the ceilings high enough? Is there enough ‘elbow’ room? Places to plug in phones? Put the cooler and the suitcases?

Head Out on the Road, Like You’re Going to Work

  • Pay attention to how the brakes feel – are they jumpy, or sticky or too loose? Listen for grinding or squeaks, there could be worn brake pads or rotors
  • How well does the car handle potholes and rough roads? Drive slowly and listen for any noises, like rattles or knocks which could possibly be a steering issue.
  • What about a tight turn? Shouldn’t be a problem with a car that is power steering and suspension is working properly.

Take a Drive on the Highway

  • Does the car drive smoothly, accelerating quickly and moving smoothly? If not, there could be a problem.
  • Pay extra attention to blind spots; you’d be surprised how some vehicles have blind spots in areas you wouldn’t of even though of.
  • While heading down the highway, carefully go back and forth in between lanes to see how well the vehicle handles, and reacts during higher speeds.
  • Pay attention to how the car does when you lightly hold the steering wheel making sure it doesn’t pull. If it does, that can be a suspension or alignment problem.
  • While you are driving on the highway, listen for any squeaks, rattles or whines of the engine.
  • If at all possible, drive up and down a hill to verify that the car up shifts and downshifts correctly

Practice Parallel Parking

  • As you park, make sure that the steering doesn’t feel super stiff and you can easily maneuver the vehicle
  • As you reverse, be sure that it shifts smoothly from drive to reverse, if it jolt or makes any grinding noises when shifting it could be a transmission issue.n.
  • How responsive is the vehicle? Does the vehicle feel differently when you press on the gas or brakes when you are in reverse?
  • Make sure you are comfortable parking in a regular size parking space, especially if you are getting a larger truck or SUV. You need to know that you can safely park no matter where you are at.

Make sure that you remember to not settle until you are completely happy. Make time to test drive multiple vehicles during the time you are shopping so that you get the perfect vehicle that is right for you.

Remember, as you are buying your new vehicle, you can sell your NON RUNNING CARS to make a few bucks to put towards your down payment!

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