8 Secrets for Your Next New Car Test Drive

Know what to look for when you take a new car-to-be out for a spin.

By Reader's Digest Editors
Test Drive© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Know what to look for when you take a new car-to-be out for a spin.


1. How does it look?
Before getting behind the wheel, give the car a comprehensive once over. Are there even gaps around the hood, fenders, and doors? If so, the car is well assembled. Is there a spare tire? If it’s an SUV, is the running board too high?


2. How does it feel on the inside?
Try lifting the trunk, hatchback, or rear door. Is it heavier than you expected? Do the rear seatbacks fold down to create extra trunk room? Is there enough leg and headroom in the backseat? Is it difficult to climb into the backseat or third row?


3. Can you sit properly in the driver’s seat?
Is there enough distance between you and the steering wheel? According to AAA, proper distance between your chest and the driver’s side airbag should be 12 inches. Do your feet comfortably reach the pedals? Can you clearly see the dashboard?


4. How comfortable is the driver’s seat?
Do your back, legs, and head feel supported? Can you easily adjust the seat and headrest? Is the safety belt comfortable (the belt should rest on your shoulder, not your neck).


5. How convenient are the conveniences?
Are the controls for temperature, mirrors, navigation, and audio easy to adjust? Are there enough cup holders and other places to stow things? Does the trunk open automatically?


6. How does it feel on the road?
How quickly does it accelerate? If it’s a stick shift, how smoothly does it shift gears? How does it feel when you turn corners or drive up or down hills? How well does it maneuver around obstacles? Do the brakes feel firm?


7. How does it sound?
How quiet is the ride? Is there obvious noise from the engine or tires (there shouldn’t be)? Are there any unexpected sounds?


8. Is the SUV all it should be?
If you’re considering an SUV or crossover, be sure to test out all of the features unique to large vehicles. Does stepping onto the running board feel like climbing a stairmaster? Is the tailgate easy to close? Is the third row suitable for anyone over the age of six? And so on.


Source: AAA New York Car & Travel

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  • Your Comments

    • http://www.autoplanetusedcars.com/dealership/about.htm Patrick Gauer

      Yes, Erwin is right! When learning how to drive, patience is a virtue. Take things one step at a time. There’s no point in rushing. Eventually, you will become an expert driver at the right time and place, and a great driver is always patient. :)

    • http://www.sellingthecar.com/faq Earlene Harps

      Buying a new car is one of the most expensive things anyone will ever invest in. Cars vary from one feature to another which is very confusing. In this light, one must be particular and meticulous in picking his car. Don’t rush things to avoid buyer’s remorse.

    • http://www.rayskillmanford.com/section/secondary/indianapolis-cars-for-sale-service-specials/ Erwin Calverley

      Time should be on your side here. It does not pay to be hasty with a car because your pick would be your main transportation for many years, often going past a decade. Be thorough with finding out how it ticks on the road!