Road Testing Tips

What happens during a test drive at a dealership?

Purchasing a new vehicle can be both exciting and stressful, from the negotiation process to the test drive. The idea of driving an unfamiliar vehicle with a stranger sitting beside you can certainly be awkward. Adding to the stress is the importance of this step, because it’s often within these few minutes that the decision whether or not to buy the vehicle is made. This EspaceAuto Desjardins section offers you a few tips for the test drive during your vehicle purchasing process.

Documents required for a test drive

Before doing a test drive, certain documents are often required, such as your driver’s licence and proof of auto insurance. The salesperson may need to make copies to confirm your right to drive and to have your contact information in the event of a problem during the test drive. Although hard to believe, some people actually try to steal a vehicle during a test drive.
Usually, the salesperson takes a licence plate and the keys and then accompanies you on the drive. Most dealers send an employee along with you to prevent theft or joy rides, but the main reason is to promote the vehicle’s features to make the sale.

Riding in the passenger seat

If you’re in the passenger seat for the first part of the ride, evaluate the comfort and practical aspects of the vehicle, such as the seats, climate controls and sound system. It’s a great time to ask questions because you’ll be concentrating on driving when it’s your turn behind the wheel. What’s more, the experience can be very different in the passenger seat.

Adjusting the vehicle before the test drive

Once you are in the driver’s seat, don’t start the vehicle right away. First, make all adjustments needed for your comfort and safety, such as the seat, mirrors, steering wheel, seatbelt and pedals, if possible.

Always drive safely, but don’t forget to assess the vehicle’s performance. Pay special attention when accelerating, braking and turning. Check the visibility from all sides to facilitate parking and reversing, especially when it comes to blind spots, and adjust the mirrors to eliminate them as best as possible.

Thoroughly examining the vehicle after the test drive

Once the test drive is over, examine the vehicle closely. Test all of the seats for comfort. Check if they can go back, be reorganized or removed, and go through the motions to see how easy it is. Take a look in the trunk and other storage spaces; check that there’s sufficient space to take enough luggage for a long trip and if there are cargo nets or hooks.

Thinking it over before buying

Test drives are usually 15 to 30 minutes long, including the time spent with the salesperson driving. As soon as you are back at the dealership, be prepared to be asked if you’re ready to buy. Feel free to reply that you need time to think, whether you need a few minutes or a few days. Figure out if you’ve compared enough vehicle models and driven the vehicle of your choice long enough to make an informed decision. If not, ask for a longer test drive. Many dealerships can lend a vehicle overnight or for a weekend to people who have already done a test drive.
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