Tips for Testing a Car Before Pulling the Trigger

You probably know that you should test out a car before you make your purchase, but you might not know how to go about that if you’ve never bought a vehicle before. Whether you’ve never purchased a vehicle before or you’re replacing a car you’ve had for years, here are a few tips for testing a car before buying.

Know What You Want
You probably have a good idea of what kind of car you want if you’re in the market for one, but you should still do plenty of homework before setting foot in a dealership. You should know what makes and models will suit your lifestyle and your budget, and you should know what kind of maintenance goes into owning your own vehicle. Think about what you need and what you can afford and make a list of vehicle makes and models that fit your criteria.

Schedule Your Test Drives
Once you found some dealerships that have vehicles that you want, call them and schedule test drives. That will help ensure that the dealerships have the vehicles you want ready to go. Confirm that the vehicle or vehicles you want to test-drive are in stock and equipped the way you want. If you are testing multiple vehicles schedule your appointments to drive candidate cars back-to-back. Being on a schedule also gives you an excuse to leave the dealership when you’re finished if you decide not to purchase from them. Most, if not all dealerships, have online ability to schedule a test drive so you can do all the work from home and keep to a schedule while testing.

Check Under the Hood
When you test a vehicle, be sure to check under the hood. You might find a car that seems perfect only to find that there are serious issues with the engine or the transmission. For example, if you are buying a used Subaru then make sure if you are getting Subaru genuine parts. Otherwise, you may be buying off-brand merchandise that doesn’t last. Try to get a mechanic you trust to take a look at the vehicle if you can; they might be able to see something that you miss.  

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No matter whom you buy from, always look over the vehicle thoroughly and, if possible, take it to a mechanic for a complete inspection. It’s best to make these checks with the engine cool. Look first at the general condition of the engine bay. Dirt and dust are normal but be wary if you see oil splattered about or on the pavement under the engine compartment. Also watch for a battery covered with corrosion, or wires and hoses hanging loose.

Bring a Friend
Salespeople will do everything they can to talk you into buying a car from them. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of possibly leaving with a brand-new vehicle, so bring a friend with you to keep you grounded or to talk you out of making a questionable purchase. Get a feel for how the car drives from the perspective of the driver and the passenger. A vehicle’s handling can be a particularly important aspect of your ownership experience. Although you may love the way a certain car looks, the way it drives can make or break how much you actually enjoy having the car.

Test Drive the Car on Different Roads
When it comes time to test-drive the car, try to do so in different scenarios. Driving around side streets at 30 miles per hour is one thing but driving at 60 miles per hour on the highway is something else. The same goes for driving on a bumpy road. You need to know that you’re comfortable driving your potential new car on all of these surfaces before you make your final decision. If most of your commute is on the highway, then drive on the highway. Try to drive over a bumpy road or railroad track to check how it rides.

Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases you will make aside from buying a house, so you want to make sure that you make an informed decision. Keep these tips in mind to know what you’re getting.

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