Buying a new car can be fun, but it can also be stressful.  You might find yourself with “buyer’s goggles” on.  Everything looks new and fun and shiny.  And that might lead you to a decision you didn’t think too much about.  

Here’s a quick checklist to help you be prepared and smart when test driving a new car.

Be Prepared

Know what your terms are.  Know what the car you are looking at is worth.  Make sure to shop around at other dealerships.  Check with Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds on the value and rating of the car you are looking at.  If you have a car to trade in, check these same sites to know what your trade in is worth.  Know your numbers.

Call Ahead

Call ahead and speak with a salesperson, or a sales manager if you can.  Let them know the car you are interested in and make sure it’s still available.  Make an appointment to test drive it.  

Remember You’re in Charge

Salespeople need you to make money. They’re working for your business.  If you go in knowing your numbers, they will do their best to make sure you are walking away with a new car, at your preferred cost, and they will be walking away with a sale.

Drive What and Where You Want

Some salespeople will take the test drive with you, while others will let you go on your own.  Know where you would like to test drive.  Make sure you drive on a highway or freeway, plus around town.  Make sure you test the cruise control as well to make sure it’s in working condition.  Find a parking lot to test parking and backing up in.  You don’t want to purchase a car and then realize it’s too large for you to park comfortably.  Try parallel parking while you’re at it.  

Ask for a Demonstration

Even if you’re test driving a Toyota at a Ford dealership, ask your salesperson to go through the features with you.  Ask for a demonstration on how the car’s seats fold down, how to set up your bluetooth, or anything else.  This helps you make sure everything is in working condition and allows you to understand how the car works rather than stumbling through it later on your own.

Locate the Spare

Make sure your new purchase comes with a spare tire.  Check that it’s in good condition and know how to locate and remove it if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need it.

Check the Sound

While you’re on your test drive turn the radio on.  Turn the volume up and down and make sure it sounds good and all the speakers are in working condition.  Once you’ve done that, turn it off and keep driving.  Listen to the road noise.  Is it loud, is it quiet?  Can you hear yourself think over it?  Will you need to yell to your passenger for them to hear you?

Check the Blind Spots

There’s nothing worse than driving a car with horrible blind spots.  Make sure your new purchase has limited blind spots.  You’ll find them in every car, but make sure you can see during your test drive.  You don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a car you regret because you have poor visibility.

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