Car shopping is a long and detailed process, but you’re making a major investment, so it should be. You’ll do a lot of research on test ratings, features, size, style, makes, and models. You will try your best to narrow it down before you even begin to start physically looking. And you’ll check and compare what cars and deals are available at dealerships near you.
Your experience with a salesperson and at the dealership is so important. One of the single most crucial things you’ll do while there is test drive the vehicles you’re most interested in. There’s a lot that can be said about how to have a successful test drive, but most of it has to do with the actual driving. In order to really get a feel for whether or not a car fits you, here are some things you need to test before you even begin driving each car.
When you’re adjusting the seat, pay close attention to comfort and fit. You should be able to adjust the seat in many different ways in order to find the best position for your body, including being able to move the headrest.
Do you feel comfortable in the seat? Is it contoured to your body? Take your time with adjusting the seat and sitting there to really feel it.
Also pay attention to the arm rests; are they in the right place for you?
Put on the seatbelt. Is it comfortable and positioned properly?
The Steering Wheel and Pedals
Can the steering wheel be adjusted to a position that works well for you? Is it comfortable to hold? You shouldn’t feel like you’re stretching in order to hold the wheel and turn it. For safety, your body should be at least 25 centimetres away from the steering wheel.
You should also be able to reach the pedals without stretching or getting too close to the steering wheel. Some cars have adjustable pedals, too.
Adjust your side and rearview mirrors, and look closely into them. Do you have a clear view of the areas you should be able to see, or do you have any additional blind spots? You should be able to turn and look very easily, without needing to alter your driving position very much.
Also make sure it’s easy to see everything on your instrument panel (petrol gauge, speedometer, odometer, etc.).
Take a moment to asses all the controls in the vehicle. Can you easily reach them while driving? Are they simple or complicated? Do you understand how to use the music system and the climate controls?
Also make sure you know where the releases for the bonnet, boot and petrol-tank doors are.
Do you know how to use the windows, lock the doors, and turn on your headlights? Are the headlights automatic or not? What about the windshield wipers? What about the glove compartment?
All of these controls should be easy for you to locate, interpret, and use.
Cooper Gentry is a car expert and mechanical engineer who works with Nissan Automotive for a living. He loves to write about cars and he often gives advice to others on how to make sure you are getting a great deal.