How to Do a Test Drive The Right Way

Taking a car out for a test drive can be exciting, but it's not just about enjoying the ride. It gives you the chance to see if the car is right for you and whether there are any potential problems to be aware of.

In today’s blog, we're going to walk you through the essentials of doing a test drive the right way. Read on to discover everything you need to know from how to prepare to what to look out for.👍😀

Before Going for a Test Drive

Before you get behind the wheel, there are a few things to think about. A car is a major purchase, even if you’re using a finance loan, so it pays to be cautious.

A bit of preparation can go a long way to ensure you’re making the right choice. Here’s a checklist of the top things you’ll need and the factors to consider before taking a test drive:

  • Your driving license - You’ll need this to test drive a car.
  • Type of car - Consider the size and style that suits your needs.
  • Your budget - Know how much you can afford.
  • Insurance cover - Check if the dealership provides insurance for the test drive.
  • List of features you want – Such as Bluetooth, GPS, etc.
  • Questions to ask the dealer – Ask about service history, warranty, etc

These considerations will help ensure you make the best decision for your needs.

How long does a test drive last?

A test drive typically lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. This gives you enough time to get a good feel for the car, how it handles things, and to check that everything works as it should.

Some dealerships may let you take longer test drives, especially if you’re considering a higher-end vehicle or if you request it in advance.

A longer test drive, perhaps up to an hour, can be useful if you want to try the car on a route you frequently use, like your commute to work.

Preparing for a Test Drive in the UK

Before you head to the dealership for a test drive, it pays to be prepared. Here’s a breakdown of the steps you should take:

Check You Have Your Driving License

Double-check that you have your driving license with you and that it's up to date. It's the first thing a dealership will ask for, as they need to make sure you're legally allowed to drive.

If you don’t have your license with you, the dealer won’t let you take the test drive.

Plan Your Route

Consider in advance where you want to take the car. A good test drive isn’t just up and down the street; it tests how the car feels in different driving situations.

If possible, plan a route that includes busy city streets, a stretch of motorway, and narrow winding roads.

This variety gives you a real feel for how the car handles in the conditions you'll be driving in day-to-day.

What to Bring with You

Prepare a checklist of features you want to test and questions you have about the car. This could include things like the audio system, reversing cameras, or how easy it is to pair your phone with the car.

You should also consider bringing a friend or family member along. They can offer a second opinion, help you evaluate the car, and remind you of anything you might forget to check.

It’s always good to have someone else's perspective, especially on something as important as your next car.

Set Your Expectations

Decide what you want to get out of the test drive. Is it the comfort, the handling, or the power you’re most interested in? Having clear expectations can help you focus on what’s important.

Going for a Test Drive

When you're on the test drive, focus on how the car feels to drive. Is it comfortable, for example, and is the seat adjustable to your liking?

Check the visibility, the response of the brakes, and how the car handles turns and acceleration. Try out the tech features like the infotainment system, air conditioning, and any driver-assist technologies.

Pay attention to any unusual noises or vibrations, too, as this could indicate a potential problem. Remember, this is your chance to experience the car as if it were already yours.

Take your time to really get to know the vehicle. You need to make sure you’re making a good decision, especially if you’re planning to finance the car.

A Few More Tips Before You Go!

During the test drive, you may notice some issues that the dealer didn’t mention. If there are, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price.

If you decide to buy the car after the test drive, secure affordable finance with Carmoola. Check your budget using our car finance calculator today. 

Our easy online process gives you the finance you need quickly at a price that’s affordable for you.😍

Read more about what to do before buying a car:

FAQs on Test Driving a Car

Why is it important to prepare before a test drive?

Preparing before a test drive is important for safety, ensuring a successful evaluation of the vehicle, and preventing potential accidents or mishaps.

  • Safety
    Ensuring the vehicle is in good condition and you are prepared minimizes the risk of accidents during the test drive.

  • Vehicle Assessment
    Preparing allows you to thoroughly evaluate the vehicle's performance and suitability for your needs.

  • Legal Compliance
    Proper preparation ensures you have the necessary documentation, insurance, and permits for the test drive.

  • Time Efficiency
    Planning ahead can help you make the most of the test drive, enabling you to assess the vehicle thoroughly.

  • Cost Consideration
    Adequate preparation can help you avoid costly mistakes or purchasing a vehicle that doesn't meet your requirements.

What aspects should I focus on during a test drive?

During a test drive, focus on these key aspects:

  • Handling and Comfort: Assess how the vehicle feels while driving, including the steering, suspension, and overall comfort.

  • Acceleration and Braking: Test the vehicle's acceleration and braking performance in various driving conditions.

  • Visibility: Evaluate the visibility from the driver's seat, including blind spots, mirrors, and sightlines.

  • Noise and Vibration: Pay attention to interior and exterior noise levels, as well as any unusual vibrations.

  • Safety Features: Check the functionality of safety features like airbags, ABS, stability control, and any driver-assistance systems.

  • Ride Quality: Assess how well the vehicle handles bumps, potholes, and rough roads.

  • Space and Storage: Check the interior space, storage compartments, and cargo capacity.

  • Comfort and Ergonomics: Pay attention to the comfort of the seats, driving position, and ergonomics of the controls.

  • Overall Impression: Consider your overall impression of the vehicle, including its fit for your needs and lifestyle.

Take your time during the test drive and ask questions about any concerns you may have. It's essential to thoroughly evaluate the vehicle to make an informed decision.