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Top Tips for How To Test Drive a Car

Dec. 17, 2021
3 mins
A driver sits happily behind the wheel with three passengers

There’s a lot of research that goes into buying a new car. You’ll want to factor in details like the car’s fuel efficiency, insurance rate, safety features, and how well it holds its value before buying. You’ll also want to ensure that it meets your physical driving needs, and one of the best ways to do this is with a test drive.

Taking a car out for a test drive is an integral part of the car buying process. Yet, it’s estimated that about 16% of car buyers skip the test drive and 33% test drive just one vehicle. For a purchase that easily costs $20,000 or more, forgoing the test drive could end up costing you in the long run.

Minimize the chance of having buyer’s remorse. Go on a test drive and get the most out of it with these easy test drive tips.

What to look for during a test drive

A test drive will help you determine if the car is the right fit for you and your family’s driving needs.

  • Visibility: Make a note of your view of the road by using the rear and side mirrors. How big is the blind spot? Also, make sure you have an opportunity to reverse the car so you can see if anything is impeding your sightlines.
  • Acceleration: How does the vehicle feel when you accelerate from a full stop and when you merge onto the highway? Make sure the car’s acceleration speed meets your needs.
  • Braking: The vehicle’s brakes should feel responsive and smooth. Test out the brakes in a couple of ways; press them softly as you would during a typical drive and harder with force as if you needed to stop suddenly.
  • Steering and handling: The vehicle’s steering and handling should be easy to manoeuvre while changing lanes and turning corners. Ultimately, the car should respond to your commands with ease.
  • Noise level: Some cars are simply noisier than others, whether due to the engine or type of tire. Turn off the radio, close the windows, and listen. Is the sound of the car acceptable?
  • Comfort: Make sure the vehicle is spacious (including legroom and headroom) and easy to get in and out of. How comfortable are the seats, not just for the driver, but for all passengers? Bring a couple of people out with you for the test drive to give you their take on the passengers’ comfort level.
  • Dashboard controls: Whether it’s the heating and cooling system, the speedometer, the gas gauge, or the radio, the instruments on the dashboard should be easy to see and reach.

When to test drive

If possible, schedule more than one test drive; schedule one during the daylight and another in the evening when it’s darker to get the full experience. Also, if you’re looking at more than one vehicle, try to schedule your test drives back to back. That way, you’ll be able to compare the qualities (or deficiencies) while each is still fresh in your mind.

Now it’s time to pass the insurance test!

Your new vehicle may have passed the test drive, but now it’s time to see if it passes the insurance test. Putting the same time and care into comparing auto insurance rates can end up saving you money, year after year.

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Don't waste time calling around for auto insurance

Use RATESDOTCA to shop around, and compare multiple quotes at the same time.


The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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