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Tips for the Test Drive

Tips for the Test Drive

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2011
Test driving a car takes just a short time, but it is one of the most important steps in determining whether or not a new vehicle is right for you. The most important part about a test drive is removing the subjectivity, or emotion, and focusing on the objective at hand to determine whether this is an ideal vehicle for your particular life situation. While test drive opportunities are not always optimal, it is important to look for certain things during your time behind the wheel, and to learn as much about the vehicle as possible.

First, adjust all vehicle controls before you leave the lot. You will be spending some time behind the wheel, so ensure that you fit into the seat and that there is plenty of support for your particular frame everyone will fit differently in a seat and some automakers offer different seats for different trim levels within the same model.

So, if you like a particular model but find that the seats are uncomfortable, try a different trim level, which may offer a different seat or additional seat functions such as lumbar support and various adjustments.
Once underway, make sure the vehicle provides adequate acceleration. Economy cars will typically be slower, but they should not be lethargic. The ability to accelerate away from a potentially hazardous situation is just as important as the ability to slow the car or avoid a particular obstacle.

Some sports cars are very powerful, but may offer a somewhat stiff ride. The ride will also depend on the type of vehicle, but in any case, all modern vehicles should be relatively quiet and free from unnecessary wind noise and rattles. The vehicle's brakes should be progressive they shouldn't be jerky and the amount of stopping force provided should be consistent with how hard you depress the brake pedal. The steering should also be smooth and predictable.

Test driving a new car is not something that should be rushed. Always take the time to look, listen, and learn about the vehicle before you commit to such a significant purchase.
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