What do car lovers look for when taking a test drive?
If you’re not a car obsessive, taking a test drive can simply feel like going through the motions and with car specifications so easy to research online, it might seem easier to go straight to the sale.
Here at Zuto, we can’t stress enough how important the test drive is. It is your chance to make sure you’re buying exactly what you need and an opportunity to take full advantage of time with the vehicle before you own it. But what do you do with that time? Who better to ask than our team of car-mad, Car Buying Experts…
1. Do your research in advance
When you’ve found a car you like the look of it’s always quite useful to go online and see what other drivers are saying about that specific make and model. While every car is individual, depending on it’s road history, there are nuances with each model that only really come to light once a car has been in production and on the road for a while.
Adam in our Sales team says, “Looking through online forums will help you see if there is a common issue that current owners keep finding and generally what people like or dislike about the car. This way, you can go on the test drive and make sure you pay specific attention to this.
“It’s also worth researching the full spec of the model you’re going to look at so you have a full idea of what to test. Print this off and take it with you on the test drive.”
2. Do you fit?
Once you get in the car, check some basics.
Martin in our Sales team says, “Making sure you can sit in a comfortable position is important. If you have large feet there has to be enough space to put your left foot down without catching the clutch pedal, (I’ve tried a few cars where this was a problem!).”
Louise in our People Team adds, “If you are a little challenged on the height front like myself it is kinda important to check you can get the seat far enough forward so as to reach the pedals – trust me not all cars are made for little people!”
And, if this is to be your new family car, then take the whole family with you and see how everyone finds it for size.
3. Tell the salesman be quiet!
We’re not suggesting you’re rude but making sure you can hear the car is important, as Tom in our tech team points out, “The chatty conversation will stop you listening out for any weird noises or rattles from the suspension for example, and stop you concentrating on how the drive feels.”
4. Don’t avoid the bad roads
Driving with diligence is extremely important, for both your own safety and to maintain your car long term but on a test drive it’s useful to travel on poor surfaces. As Martin in sales explains, “I’ll usually ride a pothole or sub-standard bit of road just to see how the car feels – you’re not always going to be able to avoid them when the vehicle is yours!”
5. Check the performance
Don’t just accept a quick ride round the business park or a quiet road near the dealership as your test drive. Laura in Marketing says, “You need to see how the car performs and sounds on the roads you’ll be travelling on regularly. Take it around town or on the dual carriageway or motorway, if this is where you’ll be driving most days.”
6. Drive it from cold
Sellers often suggest you stay in the warm showroom and they’ll drive the car round to the doors for you. Don’t let them! As Josh in our Partnerships Team suggests, “You need to see how the car is going to start up when it has been sat in your garage or drive. If you’re buying a used car, start the engine, let it idle a couple of minutes and see how well it starts. Then press the clutch in and out. You should hear no change at all in engine sound. If you do, then avoid.”
7. Open the bonnet
You need to do this before you start the engine and then again once the engine is running. Tom says, “Open the oil cap before starting the engine. Any slight creamy or white residue suggests the car overheats and this means the vehicle has had, (or will soon have), head gasket problems which are critical to the running of your car.”
Then after, “Let the engine run and open the bonnet and listen to it. It should be smooth and not bouncing around.”
Anthony in Partner Support says, “Bounce each corner of the car over the wheel. If the car bounces more than once on a wheel the shocks are probably dead and you’ll be in for an uncomfortable ride. It’s then your choice to get this fixed before you agree to purchase or get the money off the vehicle to fix it when finally in your ownership.”
Buying a car because your family is growing?
Read our blog on what car to buy for your baby here.