Buying a new used car is always an a test in dealing with stress, risk and salesmen. But as a savvy shopper, you can eliminate a large chunk of that risk by using your test drive time wisely.
Before you visit your local car dealership and get involved in a lengthy sales process, do as much research as possible and take a look at the following 9-point checklist of things to keep in mind so you utilize the most of your test drive time.
Create a List of Items You Need to Monitor Before You Get Behind the Wheel
The idea of getting into a new car and taking it for a ride can make the most focused car buyer distracted.
Between the excitement of driving what might become your new car, to trying to keep everything organized in your mind that you need to monitor, a test drive can easily lose its value if you don't prepare.
Add that with a successful sales person in your ear and it will make it even more difficult.
Choose a Range of Favorite Models
Instead of choosing one car and sticking to it without making room for a few other alternatives, you might close the door on great value. Since you are buying a used car, you might not find your dream car as a used option in the condition you want.
Know Your Budget and Stick To It
If you know that you can't afford a car that a dealer is encouraging you to test drive, don't waste your valuable time, especially if there is no negotiating room when it comes to the price.
Perform a Pre-Drive Test Inspection
Take a quick overview of the car from the outside before you turn the ignition key. Check out the tires, bumpers, how the car doors and trunk open and close, and generally see if the car has incurred any damages from possible previous accidents. Open the engine's hood then check the ground to see if there are any fluid leaks.
Make Sure the Car Fits You Physically
Once you get into the driver's seat, make adjustments to the steering wheel and to your seat to make sure you can drive comfortably, according to your body's needs.
Test the Electric Windows, Locks, Stereo and GPS
Make sure your electrical system is in working order before you take off so you make note and have an enjoyable ride.
Turn Off the Radio and Leave the Electrical Gear Alone
Once you start driving, all of your focus should turn toward the car's performance, which you need all of your focus to determine.
Use Your Nose as Part of the Inspection Process
You don't want to end up with a car that brings an unfortunate odor from its past life. If you note a new air freshener, you might take it down and place it in the trunk so you can test the car's true scent as you drive.
Take Your Time
Part of your test drive should, in fact, be fun for you, as well as informative. Whether 30 minutes or 10 miles, set a time or mileage goal that will give you a good idea of the car's quality and how much you purely enjoy driving it. Allow for stops to see if there are any on-the-road leaks, overheating or anything else that you can't gauge from the showroom or the lot.
Go for a Second Test Drive
If the car makes it past your first-drive requirements, schedule a second test drive to visit your mechanic to verify that the car is a sound purchase.