Buying a car? Get the most from your test drive

Test drives are vitally important, can be fun and will, if carried out correctly prevent you making a costly mistake when buying a car.

To start with make sure that the car you will drive has all your “must haves” (especially if they will affect the performance or your enjoyment of the car) such as air conditioningclimate control, correct engine size, adequate sound system and so on.

The most important thing about a test drive is that the car is tested in the same conditions that the car will eventually be used in. For instance, if it is predominantly school runs, down to the shops and back or a weekend runabout, test it as such. However if will be used for long journeys, covering many miles and motorway journeys, it is imperative to try out the car for these conditions, or prepare to have big regrets later!

I see it all the time, people spending lots of their hard earned money on the car of their dreams only to find that bad preparation and a lack of care when choosing proves to be a financial disaster and it continues to happen every day.

I was offered a car the other day which nobody can get and is very desirable. It was an 08 model and had covered just 1,000 miles. The dealer that offered it to me told me that
‘The lady just can’t get on with it; it’s just too big’
I’m not sure what she was expecting because it was a 4 wheel drive!

Worse than that, she was trying to trade back down to what she had traded in originally, which is fine but this little piece of education ended up costing her the best part of £5,000! Now I am not saying that she didn’t do her homework but did she really just look at the fancy brochure, see one in her street and decide;

“I must have one of those!’

If she had maybe just driven it a bit further and a bit longer and maybe practised parking it and checked the visibility she might not have poured £5k down the drain.

Anyway back to the test drive, common sense is the key make sure you have an idea that it’s in your price range before you take it out as I have encountered lots of people who take cars out at the insistence of a pushy salesman (sometimes me!) This is all fine but when you have to then go out in a more affordable car it’s never quite the same and you can lose interest because it wasn’t your first choice. This is dangerous because you could still end up with a car you don’t want and it will only cost you dearly to bail out of.
How many times have you asked estate agents when looking to buy a house to send you properties up to £200k. They send you 2 in this bracket and about 6 up to £250k and guess which ones you like the best! It’s human nature.

So to summarise;

• Make sure the car fits your budget

• Make sure it’s comfortable for anyone regularly using the car

• if more than 1 person will be driving it make sure you all test it (I have had several instances where you will say to the husband or wife after one has test driven’ would you like to take it for a drive’ No thanks its fine I don’t need to if he/she is happy then so am I. Big mistake!, what ends up happening is that no.2 driver refuses to ever drive it, especially to the pub!)

• Take the car for a god long drive in your conditions

• Make sure visibility is adequate
• Comfort is very important, especially if you spend a lot of time in a car

• Check the c02 emissions as it may be that the car will be too costly to run.

• Ask lots of questions to the salesman, if he doesn’t know then make sure he finds out, remember the only stupid question is the one not asked
• keep an open mind and be prepared to compare with other models until you are satisfied

• Enjoy it. It’s fun driving different cars and it doesn’t have to be daunting if you are properly prepared

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