Here’s the script for the “How To Test Drive A Car” video above:

Now you’ve seen the car. The presentation should end with you sitting behind the wheel. Now it’s time for you to learn how to test drive a car.

Don’t skip this step!  In my experience, probably about 5% of buyers would say that it’s not necessary, so then I would have to talk them into it.  Don’t skip it; just do it.  This is where you get to truly see if this car is right for you before committing to a purchase.

At this stage, you should familiarize yourself with the internal controls, obviously position the seat, and then mirrors in a way that is most comfortable for you.  Look at all the controls, and if you don’t understand what something does, ask about it.  Look around, open the glove box and console, does it have enough charging or communication ports for you to plug in your devices?  How is the outside visibility?  This one’s important – Are you comfortable?  Some people are just bigger than others.  Larger people will be miserable in a compact sedan.

If that’s you, wanting a new car, but a compact is the only thing that fits in your budget, let’s go back to the Finding The Right Car For You Lesson and pick a used SUV or full-size car because it will be a better fit, and you’ll own it a lot longer.

The sales rep should be in the passenger seat unless you brought someone with you.  If you did, and especially if you expect they may be a regular passenger, the sales rep should be sitting in the back seat.  If they don’t do that automatically, then please don’t hesitate to ask them to sit in the back.

test drive

You’re going to have the next 15 minutes or so to treat this car as though it is yours.  Let’s start by plugging in your phone.  Most cars built after 2010 will have at least one USB port.  We’re not going to pair our phone yet for calls, but you can definitely listen to some of your favorite music easily enough!  Most of the newer cars that you are looking at will be compatible with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so just plugin and give it a whirl!  You’re gonna love the technology, especially if it’s your first time.

Now let’s drive!  The sales rep will usually have a pre-defined route planned out that will give you a chance to test it out as safely as possible.  The dealers with whom I worked had us basically take drivers in a big circle of right-hand turns until we made it back to the dealership.  They do this trying to avoid left-hand turns if possible because you’re crossing traffic.

Just do your best to get on a highway or interstate.  You’ll need to drive it like you will in real life.  Don’t baby it or worry about the sales rep asking you to slow down, see if the performance is good enough for your needs.  See how it feels to pass somebody.  Obviously, don’t go a hundred miles an hour, but I’ll typically always get up in the mid-80s to see if it runs the way I want. This is a critical part of how to test drive a car.

While you’re driving and playing music like you already own it now, just note a few things.

  • Are the controls within easy and appropriate reach?
  • How is your visibility?
  • Do you have to crane your neck to see out the back and sides?  If you do, that can be very dangerous in highway situations.
  • How does the seat feel?
  • Can you imagine yourself sitting in it for 3 hours straight?

Finally, do you want to own this car?

Know your answer to that question – and – be – honest – with – yourself, this is a big deal.  If you know in your brain and your heart that this isn’t right for you, that’s ok.  Walk away and go back to the research stage because you will not want to endure what’s coming next unless you want the car.

Car dealers tend to think it’s all about money, and it’s not.

Yeah, you have to be able to afford it, but money isn’t everything when you’re making a years-long commitment to anything.

Now that you know how to test drive a car, here’s what happens next.  You’ll drive back into the dealer, and the salesman’s job is to ask you some variation of this question,

“If we can make all of the numbers work out, do you want to drive home in this car today?”

If the answer is no, then tell them “NO” and don’t be afraid of it, despite their objections or desire to show you something else.  Save everybody’s time, including your own, and go back home to find a better car for yourself.

Now, if the answer to that same question is, “Yes!”  Then awesome!  Let’s get you prepped for what’s coming next…

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