Preparing for a test drive

Preparing for a test drive

Although reading reviews about your prospect cars can help, it’s still better seeing them in metal, plastic, and rubber when buying a new vehicle.  But what’s the best way to make sure that your new ride fits you? You guessed it right – a test drive.

However, test drives won’t be effective if not done right. There are things you need to consider before, during, and after the drive that you might miss.

That’s why we wrote this handy dandy guide for you. Consider this before heading out to the showrooms and testing your dream car.


It’s more likely that you already have cars in mind by the time you reach the decision of buying one. Read about them and consider other models within its segment. To start with, you can use AutoDeal’s Car Guide. It is a comprehensive section in our website, which has all the current models and their specs. The car manufacturers provide all the details so you can have peace of mind that you are actually getting factual data. Once decided, you can use the form at the bottom of the Car Guide to request a test drive.

Torn between two or three cars?  You can also use the Car Comparison Tool to match them up with their rivals. Don’t worry, the difference in figures on the specs sheet are translated to words that you understand. Motoring news and reviews about your future car might be available via the AutoDeal Blog section so you might want to check it out as well.


Don’t just stare at your future car. Move around it and inspect the exterior thoroughly. What you see in photographs are not always the same as what they are in real life. Be critical and make sure that you’ve got everything covered.

Check features that might affect your daily drive like misplaced cup holders, hard-to-operate buttons, inadequate trunk space, and ease of entry and exit for the driver, front, rear, and 3rd row passengers (applicable). Some models also feature folding 2nd and 3rd row seats to maximize cargo capacity, which is an added bonus.

For pickup trucks, make sure to check if the rear bed has the size that you’re looking for. Some dealerships also offer bed liners that protect the payload.

The fit and finish of the whole interior is also something that you should be looking at. See if the panel gaps are even and take note of any irregularity. However, take note that the quality of materials greatly depends on the vehicle’s SRP.

Feel the drive

It’s time to hit the road and feel the car behind the wheel. Dealerships often conduct test drives within the vicinity of their showrooms but it won’t hurt to ask the sales agent if you can take them farther.

While sitting on the driver’s seat, check if the gauges are legible. See how easily you can adjust the seat to your preferred driving position and how well you fit into the cabin. You should be able to effortlessly check the side mirrors and see all corners of the car.

As the driver, you should be able to reach the steering wheel and pedals comfortably. The steering wheel should also be neither too big nor too small for you. It’s better if both are adjustable.

If you’ve done your homework, you have an idea of how much power that the car you’re testing can produce. Assess if your actual drive lives up to the numbers on the specs sheet. See how well it accelerates and decelerates; the brake pedals should be responsive as your safety depends on it.

Try various parking styles as well, so you can gauge how well you can park the car in different situations. If the car has a park assist system, use it and verify its accuracy. Test the knobs, use the signal lights, toggle the headlamps, and try everything that you see on the dashboard. Ask questions if needed.

Don’t forget to try the air conditioning and the head unit. The climate-control system should easily cool down the car and should be able to adjust to extreme outdoor heat. If you have a friend with you, he could confirm the ventilation at the rear seats.

As for the head unit, you should be able to operate that while driving without any distraction. Some has controls on the steering wheel but otherwise, the head unit’s interface should be user-friendly. You can also bring your music player with you to test how well it connects to your stereo and check if you have room to place your gadgets on as well.

Reflect on the experience

Once you’re finished, it’s time to assess how you felt when testing your target cars. Don’t make quick decisions. Take your time and don’t let yourself be swayed by sales agents. We’re pretty sure there will be pros and cons in choosing one over the other, so list them down and decide which one you could live with for a long time.

Following these steps will not guarantee that your car will forever be the apple of your eye. However, it will give you confidence that you’ve done everything you could to find the right one. This makes your final decision less subjective and your purchase well thought of.