Did you take your car out for a test drive before you bought it?

How long did you take it out for?

What did you check for when you took it out?

The test drive can be the deciding factor when it comes time to buy a new vehicle. It’s a decision you’ll live with for, presumably, a long time, so you’d best be sure you’re making the right one!

Unfortunately, some people base their purchase on a 10-minute zip around the dealership’s neighbourhood. Seems a little quick for such a major purchase, doesn’t it?

At Ford Canada, we want you to be our worst critic. We want you to be so sure that the Ford you drive off the lot is your perfect fit. That’s why we’ve prepared a test drive checklist so you’ll know exactly what to look for when you take one of our vehicles out on the road.

THE LONG LOOK

Before you hit the road for your test drive, take a moment to have a good look at the following things you wouldn’t notice while taking a ride.

Give it a once over. Walk around the vehicle, and look at it long and hard from several angles. How does it look from the back? Are all the panels and handles perfectly aligned?

Open and close. Perform some simple “does it feel right” checks. Open and close the trunk and the doors. Do they feel heavy or awkward? Sit in the front and back seats. Will the people you chauffeur around be able to get in and out with ease?

Touch. When it comes to the interior, how does it look and feel? Wriggle around in the seats. Could you put up with them for a long drive? How about the steering wheel? Is the stitching perfect? Can you reach everything – shifters, stereo and heat controls – easily enough that you don’t need to take your eyes off the road?

Just in case space. This might be a no-brainer, but does your potential purchase have the space you need for all your life’s situations? Can you fit your kid’s hockey equipment in the back? How about your camping gear? Is there room for the family dog?

THE RIDE

Before the rubber meets the road, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Drive exactly what you want. If the specific model/trim package you are interested in is available, drive it. Differences in transmission, suspension and tire packages (among other things) can have a big impact on your overall impression.

Choose your own adventure. If you’re familiar with the neighbourhood, drive your own route. A test drive down a regularly travelled path is always preferable.

Act like an auto journalist. There are a number of specific things you should pay attention to when it comes to the actual ride:

  • Ride quality: noise, vibrations, smoothness
  • Power: passing speed, sudden acceleration
  • Transmission: smooth shifter and clutch, automatic upshifts and downshifts
  • Handling: long and short turns, swerves
  • Braking: soft and hard braking conditions, does it stop in a straight and controlled manner?
  • Parking: check for blind spots, how hard it is to identify the corners when parking?

Buying a new car is a huge decision and one that shouldn’t be rushed. Take your time, don’t feel pressure from sales staff to make an instant decision, and stick to your guns if you’re not completely satisfied.

Special thanks to MSN autos for providing the background for these tips. They’ve even created a handy checklist for you to print out and bring with you on your drive!

Good luck!