In an era where we make so many purchases online, it might seem kosher to buy a car without taking it for a test-drive first. Not so! A car isn’t something that comes off your Amazon wishlist. For most people, a car will be the second-most expensive thing they ever purchase. And you can’t simply return a car that isn’t a perfect fit. The stakes are high, and doing a little legwork is absolutely necessary. Let’s take a look at all the reasons why you absolutely must test-drive a car before driving it home.
- Test-drive to make sure a car meets your standards for comfort. Some vehicles are tuned for a smooth, refined ride while others may focus on performance. Still others may deliver some combination of sporty capabilities and refinement.
- During a test-drive, you can examine every aspect of a car’s performance, including braking, steering, and acceleration.
- Test-driving a car gives you a better feel for its available interior space and whether it suits your needs.
- It’s also important to test the tech features and make sure they perform as advertised.
You Need to Know How it Feels
Looks aren’t everything. You need to sit behind the wheel and feel how a car drives down the street. Priorities will vary from driver to driver. You might want seats that make you feel secure and comfortable during an hour-long commute. Or you might want sporty bolstering that keeps you snug during high-octane laps around the track. Whatever the case, you won’t know how comfortable a car is until you sit inside it.
The same goes for ride comfort. Sports cars might be tuned to balance on-road comfort with agility, or they might be more performance-focused. Off-roading vehicles may feel a little stiff on the pavement. What can you live with? To know for sure, you need to experience how a vehicle moves.
You Can Gauge Performance
What about acceleration, steering, or handling? There’s no better way to figure out how a vehicle drives than to simply drive it! On your test route, you can check out how well it accelerates and how well it handles in a corner. You can test the brakes and steering for sharpness and feedback. You want a car that keeps up with traffic and makes you feel like you’re in control of your drive. You can also keep an ear out for road noise, gauging how quiet the cabin is. You’ll know whether the suspension is tuned for comfort, performance, or some combination of both.
You Need to Figure Out What Fits
Sure, you Google any vehicle’s dimensions. But it’s a better idea to check them out in person, especially if this is your first time buying a vehicle. In person, you can gauge whether there are enough seat adjustments for your liking. You can get into the backseat and see if your friends will have enough legroom back there. Is the cargo hold big enough for your needs? Often, expectations of what a 15-cubic-foot cargo hold might look like don’t match reality. In person, you can take the contours of the cabin and cargo hold into account.
You Can Fiddle with the Tech Features
These days, cars are loaded with infotainment features and driver safety aids. In person, you can test how well your smartphone pairs with the native infotainment system and whether the central infotainment system is easy to use. You’ll also want to see whether the driver safety aids do a good job without interfering with your drive, and, if not, whether you can turn them off. Take a look at any camera displays, such as a rearview or 360-degree top-down camera, to make sure they meet your expectations. It’s also a good idea to check out the control layout. Look for controls that are easy to understand and responsive to your touch.