If this is your first time to buy a car, chances are you won’t know what to look for when a salesperson offers you to test drive one of their cars. Reputable dealerships like Giltrap Nissan can give you technical tips and a competitive sales package, but the test drive is for your personal taste. So, in order not to look like a novice, here are a few things to check when taking a test drive.
1. Ask for a cold car
If you’re going to test drive a car, ask the salesperson to give you a car with an engine that hasn’t been turned on during the day. This is because an engine that’s already warm can mask several existing problems in the machinery. So, if you bring home a car you test drove when its engine was already warm, you might be surprised to find that it already has some minor glitches you didn’t notice before.
2. Check the suspension
Once you’ve taken the car out of the dealership focus on the suspension and see if it’s emitting any creaking or groaning sounds while you’re driving. Some car sales reps try to mask this problem by telling the customer that the car has been sitting in the store for some time. Don’t buy into their reasoning.
A newly manufactured car shouldn’t give any strange noises when you drive it across speed bumps or potholes. If this happens during the test drive, ask for another car because the one you’re using probably needs replacement bushes.
3. Check the brakes
A newly manufactured car should have perfectly working brakes, which means that a slight pump on the brake pedal should immediately result in the car slowing down to a complete halt. Exercise caution when testing the brakes. It’s not enough that you slightly pump the brakes of the car; to see how effective the brake system is you need to practice an emergency stop.
Find a long stretch of road and check your rear view mirror to see if there are any cars behind you. Make sure that you’re fully prepared to make a controlled halt. Once in a higher gear, pump the brakes hard and if the car doesn’t respond quickly, or skids to a halt, then the brake system may be faulty.
Also, be aware of the car is veering slightly to the side when you apply the brakes. If it does then it means that there’s something wrong with either the brake system, suspension or the tires.
4. Check your steering wheel
When you’re applying the brakes, your steering wheel should not veer to the side. It should always remain straight and only wobble slightly when you’re driving at speeds over 80km/h. If the steering wheel shudders when under this speed, the car’s suspension or tires may have a problem, so ask for a different car.
When the vehicle is parked, turn the steering wheel to its farthest point. Whilst turning the wheel listen for creaking noises. If you hear noises then there may be a problem with the suspension.
A test drive is fun and gives you a chance to get a feel for the wheel. With a little practical knowledge, the drive will also help you make the right decision on what to buy.