Regardless of whether you’re the kind of person who buys a vehicle for life, or purchases a new vehicle every three or four years, everyone has been on a test drive at one point or another. But what’s the best way to conduct a test drive? After all, this is potentially your next vehicle, so what’s the best way to ensure that’s it’s in good condition?
Here at Mayfield Toyota, we’re experts on test driving vehicles (that’s how we get you the best price for your Trade-In) and now we’re sharing our tips with you!
Listen on Start-Up
First-things-first, when you start the engine listen carefully for any sounds of grinding or knocking. How many times does the engine need to crank before starting? Once it’s running, does it sound smooth? Does it sound like the engine is about to stall? Press the accelerator a couple times with the vehicle in park/neutral. Does it rev smoothly? Or does it stumble and cough? These tests won’t reveal everything about an engine, but they will uncover the obvious issues.
Test the Transmission
If the vehicle you’re driving is an automatic, hold the brakes and shift through the gears. Does the transmission shift smoothly? Or does it clunk into gear? If you shift into reverse or drive and try to accelerate does it move smoothly? Does it grind? If the vehicle has a manual transmission, does the shifter move smoothly from gear to gear? Is the clutch easy to modulate? Put the vehicle in gear and accelerate with some vigor – does it pop out of gear? Be thorough, as due-diligence now will prevent expensive bills in the future.
Test the Brakes
Once you’re on the move, it’s time to test the brakes. Find a clear piece of road, and after ensuring no-one’s behind, firmly press the brakes while holding the steering wheel lightly. Does the vehicle dart to one side? Do the brakes make a squealing or grinding noise? Does the brake pedal vibrate when pressed? How effective are the brakes? Does the vehicle stop quickly, or do the brakes feel lacking? Don’t be afraid to be a bit rough with the car – your test drive is a shakedown to reveal potential weak spots.
Push All the Buttons
No. Seriously. Push ALL the buttons. Prior to purchasing a vehicle you need to know if everything’s in working condition, and that extends beyond just the mechanical bits. Do the windows roll up and down smoothly? Does the A/C blow cold? Does the heater work? If the vehicle has any luxuries like electric seats, sunshades, CD players, or rear-seat entertainment systems, make sure you test it all out. Check even minor things like the radio – that way if you do purchase the vehicle, there are no nasty surprises.
Check the Suspension
Last but certainly not least, make sure to check the suspension. Find a rough road (not hard to do in Edmonton) and simply drive over it at a reasonable speed. Is there excessive travel in the suspension? Does the suspension creak or groan? Find an open parking lot and turn the wheel until it hits full lock and accelerate. Do the tires rub against the body? Does the suspension make unusual noises? Be vigorous with the vehicle, as a good shakedown now will prevent heartbreak in the future.
So those were our top 5 tips for how to conduct a proper test drive. What did you think of our tips? Is there anything you’d recommend performing on a test drive? Let us know in the comments below!