Ask Patty has put together some tips for you to take with you to the car lot. Jot down these questions or print them out and make sure you skim through them before driving off into the sunset. Make sure to check out our Find Your Dream Car page!
Before you go on that test drive, check how well made the vehicle is. Are the gaps even between the hood and the fenders? Is the paint smooth? Under the hood, is the wiring neatly bundled and are the metal edges smooth?
Once you are behind the wheel check these things:
Check it before you leave the dealer's lot.
This can be difficult to judge, but these quick tests will point out danger spots.
You should feel comfortable and safely in control of the car at all times.
A slight turn of the steering wheel should elicit a quick response. The car should be easy to steer and provide enough power to eliminate hard work but not so you feel you aren't in control. On a straight stretch, relax your grip on the steering wheel. The car should remain on a steady course.
The steering wheel should turn easily and sharply. Note the number of turns it takes from wheel lock to wheel lock. A tip: the fewer the turns, the better.
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are standard on many cars. They electronically prevent a car's wheels from locking up on slippery or dusty surfaces and let you continue steering to maintain control of your car. It will feel weird when it is engaged... read on to test it.On an empty road with no obstacles and no other car in sight, step on the brake pedal as hard as you can. The ABS should bring the car to a controlled stop. You may feel some "Catching" or push back on the brake pedal when you do this and this is normal. It will feel strange, but if the car locks up or skids, this is not a good thing.
Now find out whether the car is powerful enough around town.
See how easily you can merge into traffic from the interstate ramp. Can you reach highway speed easily and maintain that pace? Do you feel safe doing it?Is there enough power to easily pick up 10 mph and overtake the car in front of you? With the air-conditioning on high, do you still have enough power to pass? Most people forget to check this.
You want a car to be as quiet as possible, but noise is hard to judge. Check out this test:
When you finally get back to the dealership, do a final rundown of the car's comfort and convenience features. With all of this detailed research you will definitely know if this is the car for you. If you need help narrowing down your vehicle choices, check out our Find Your Dream Car page!
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