Learn How To Get The Best Deal

New Auto Buying: 10 Steps for When You Test Drive a New Auto

Many people are quite intimidated when it comes time to buying a new Auto. Regardless of whether the Auto you are considering has had previous owners or not, it will be new and unfamiliar to you. If you are interested in learning how to test drive a new Auto, and the things that you should keep in mind before, during and after the test drive, here are the top 10 things that you should be on the lookout for.

Step 1.) Do Your Homework

Before you even leave your house it’s important that you are familiar with the Auto that you are interested in. You can research specs, features, and prices of a specific new or used Autos online in our Auto research area, on other Automotive sites, and on the manufacturer site(s). For new Autos you can review MSRP and invoice pricing, and for used Autos you want to get a feel for the Autos current values based on different conditions (Excellent, Good, etc.). Think about the options and features that are most important to you so you can pay specific attention and ask questions regarding those details during the test drive, especially if you are comparing and considering multiple vehicles.

Step 2.) Research the seller (whether a dealership or private party).

It’s important to know who you are buying from. If you are shopping for Autos at a new or used Auto dealer, check your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) for any information they may have. Be sure to ask your family, friends, and work associates for recommendations of a Auto dealership that has the reputation of being ethical and trustworthy. Almost any dealership will let you test drive one of their Autos, but it’s important to shop around and consider your options. If considering a purchase from a private party, you should ask for the Auto sellers name and address prior to the meeting. Ask them where they purchased the Auto, how long they have owned it for, while they are selling it, etc. If anything seems unethical or if you are concerned with the potential private party seller, we recommend finding a seller you trust.

Step 3.) VIN Check and Vehicle History Report.

If you are test driving a used vehicle, obtain the VIN number from the seller prior to the test drive and check the vehicles history report or request a report from the seller. For a fee, the Auto history report will tell you the number of owners and any accidents that the Auto has been in. If evaluating a private party Auto you may want the seller to also provide you a photo of the VIN on the vehicle and a copy of the the Autos title to make sure the seller is the authorized owner.

Step 4.) Meeting details.

We recommend always making contact with a salesperson at the dealership prior to visiting. Whether you contact a Auto dealer through our website, or if you visit the dealer’s website you want to connect and setup a test drive with the “Internet Manager” or the “Fleet Manager” as they usually have the most experience working with consumers that have done their research and are educated on the vehicle. If meeting a private party, you should do so in a public place just to be safe. If considering a used Auto, try and bring a mechanic with you, or at least find out if the seller is willing to have the Auto inspected by your mechanic at a later date. Finally, always bring a friend or family member with you to help evaluate the Auto and to help avoid being pressured into a sale. If possible, test drive a vehicle during the day to ensure good light and safer driving conditions. Finally, bring a notepad to the meeting so you can write down any thoughts or concerns.

Step 5.) Exterior inspection.

If visiting a dealership walk around the lot and evaluate the many vehicles. Check out the Auto in person. Does the exterior meet your requirements? You might change your mind as you walk around the dealership. Specific to the Auto you are considering, how does it look? As good as you expected? Check the paint/finish, open the doors, check the tires, headlights, etc. Open the trunk and be conscious of funny smells, rust, and mold, which may be signs of prior damage.

Step 6.) Check the interior and have a seat.

Once you’ve made the decision to test drive the vehicle, don’t be in a rush to drive it immediately. Open all the doors and windows, check the interior condition and look for spots, stains, or unusual wear and tear. Have a seat in all areas of the Auto and look around. Scan the interior and the dashboard for the standard features that you researched. Is everything within your reach? Are you comfortable when the seat and mirrors are adjusted? Have the seller explain the features. Also, take a look at the mileage. Is it close to zero (for a new Auto) and as advertised (for a used Auto)?

Step 7.) Start your engines!

A test drive is an important time for you to listen to the sounds of the Auto as it drives, stops and turns, and the radio is a tactic that many unethical dealers will use to keep you from hearing problems with the Auto. Make sure you turn the radio off so you can hear the Auto you are driving. Does the Auto start well, and sound good?

Step 8.) Driving.

During the test drive you should pay attention to how the Auto accelerates, brakes, shifts and handles while you’re driving it. Do the lights and blinkers work? Are the radio and comfort settings easy to use? Do you enjoy the Auto you are driving (remember, you will have it for a while!)?

Step 9.) Look under the hood.

After the test drive, even if you’re not a mechanic, it’s important to look under the hood. You don’t have to be an expert to notice anything highly unusual. Check for any unusual odors, any burning smells, excessive smoke/exhaust, rust or excessive dirt. How does the Auto look after your test drive? As good as it did before you started?

Step 10.) Take your time.

Unless the Auto you are considering is in very high demand, there is no need to rush into the transaction. Politely ask the seller for some time to consider the Auto and gather your thoughts. Review your notes, think about the test drive, ask your friend that accompanies you for their thoughts, and decide if you want to consider any other Autos. Be sure to ask for an inspection of anything that seems strange during the test drive.

By following these easy steps, you can test drive any Auto with confidence. If you decide the Auto you drove is the one for you, then proceed into the negotiation aspect of the transaction keeping in mind that you and the seller are both looking to get a fair deal.