Test drive your next new car confidently with these 8 tips

You can do all the research in the world and read everything the experts say, but there's really only one way to find out if a car is right for you: Take it out for a spin. Here are eight steps for an effective test drive!

When testing vehicles, car journalists often drive for several hundred kilometres. But that’s hard to do when you’re shopping for a new vehicle. That means you have to arrive prepared, know what to check for and have some time set aside.

Before you get behind the wheel

1- Inspect the vehicle

Even if the car is new, it’s important to look around and make sure everything is in place. This also gives you an idea of the dimensions of the vehicle, which is essential in traffic. Be sure to inspect the tires since they affect road performance. Low profile tires, for example, will generally mean a less comfortable ride.

2- Inspect the passenger compartment and electronic accessories

Take a look at the accessories to make sure you understand how they work and that using them won’t mean taking your eyes off the road for too long. Also, use the opportunity to connect your phone to the multimedia system (Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto) to check the quality. Ask the dealers for explanations. They can demonstrate all the on-board systems and comfort features that you didn’t notice right away.

3- Check the space

This means not only sitting in the front seat but trying out all the seats, including those in the back. Also, check how easy it is to install a child seat or slide a hockey bag into the trunk.

4- Plan your route

Ideally, travel the same route you do every day, including parts of the city and the highway. This will allow you to better judge the handling of the car in the situations where you’ll drive it the most. The dealers can also guide you. They know the cars and their potential and can show you the roads that will get the most out of the one you’re testing. They’ll also answer all your questions along the way.

Once you’re behind the wheel

5- Find your driving position

Place both hands on the steering wheel at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., rest your shoulder blades on the backrest and make sure to keep your arms at a 90-degree angle. This is the ideal position. Adjust the mirrors and position the steering wheel correctly.

6- Listen to the sounds: engine, exhaust, etc.

Also, listen to the car’s rolling noises, such as the sound of tires on the road. If the noise is so loud you have to turn up the radio, imagine what it would be like trying to have a conversation with passengers on board.

7- Test the brakes and accelerator

A quick test at the beginning will give you an idea of how responsive the car is. More forceful braking will tell you how it behaves in an emergency. Remember to try the hand brake too. Take the opportunity to ride on rough roads to see if the suspension meets your expectations.

8- Check the steering

Check that the car is responsive when driving in a straight line. If not, there could be a problem. Also try parallel parking, and you’ll have a better idea of the vehicle’s handling and size. If you can, do a full turn of the wheel and drive in a circle to test the turning radius.

Once you’ve completed these eight steps, you’ll know if the car is right for you. But don’t rush to buy it. Test other vehicles as well, and compare them to make a more informed choice.

 

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