Vehicle Test-Drive Dos & Don’ts: 10 Essential Tips

Essential Test Drive Tips

Test driving a new car may seem simple—you turn the vehicle on, drive it and bring it back to the dealership. The end. Or is it?

For most shoppers, taking a test drive is a much more difficult and nuanced process. Here are some tips, from our dealerships to your noggin, to help you understand the ins and outs of the entire test-driving experience.

5 Test-Driving Dos

1. Do Invite a Pal or Family Members

Friends don’t let friends test drive alone. When you visit the dealership, plan on having a buddy or your family join in on the fun. A companion test-driver will keep you on task and may offer insights that you may not have considered, like why none of the tires are the same brand or size. That’d probably be a bad omen and a sign that you need to visit another used car lot.

If you decide to drag the whole family into the dealership, be sure to install car seats in the vehicle, as well as any other essential in-car accessories they’d use on the reg. Only then can you really appreciate the vehicle.

2. Do Schedule Your Test Drive Early

While we’re more than happy to help walk-in requests for test drives, our Honda dealers in South Florida recommend making a test-drive appointment before your first dealership visit. Showrooms can get busy, vehicles can sell out and salespeople can get tied up with other customers. By scheduling your test drive in advance, you’re ensuring that the dealership will be ready to assist you immediately upon opening their doors.

Our Honda dealers, for instance, will prepare your requested vehicle for your appointment. If you ask to see a new Honda Odyssey with HondaVAC and a Rear Entertainment System, we’ll hook you up with an Odyssey that’s packaged with both features. The vehicle will be cleaned, fueled and sitting near the front before you arrive. How’s that for curbside service?

3. Do Drive Your Day-to-Day Routes

The best way to get a feel for a vehicle is to fall into your commuting routine. If you live and work somewhere around your dealer, it’s a good idea to test drive the vehicle as if you were driving to and from the office. If the vehicle is right, you may just forget you’re taking a trial run. That’s usually a good omen.

4. Do Ask to Test Drive Alone

Did you know that some dealerships will allow you to take a test drive without a salesperson? If you’re uncomfortable or feel intimidated by salespeople—the sales team at our South Florida Honda dealerships are harmless, we swear—a solo run may be just right for you. However, some dealerships don’t offer this option for various reasons; ask your dealer when requesting a test drive online.

5. Do Go to the Dealership Prepared

If you’ve never bought or leased a vehicle at a dealership, you may not know what to bring with you. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Driver’s License
  • Proof of Car Insurance

Should the test drive go well, you’ll also want to have documents that prove your employment status, income and residence.

5 Test-Driving Don’ts

1. Don’t Feel Rushed

You’re about to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle; don’t feel obligated to rush the process! If you need to spend an afternoon testing out the vehicle in the showroom, lot and on the road, inform your salesperson. He or she should be accommodating to your request, even offering you the chance to try out various trims over the course of hours, days or weeks. You’re in charge here.

2. Don’t Overlook Comfort

“Well, I can get used to that—I think.” These are the famous last words of car owners who end up despising their vehicles. When you take a test drive, it’s absolutely imperative that you focus on how your body feels inside the vehicle. If anything seems off, that might be a sign to find another model.

Test out the way your hands feel on the steering wheel. Are the inset buttons easy to access? Does the vehicle have an available heated steering wheel? Do you feel comfortable in your normal posture? Does the steering wheel block your view of the instrument cluster? Can it be raised and lowered easily?

Move onto the seats. Do you feel pinched inside the bucket seats? How can you manipulate seat height and angles—manually or electronically? Do the seat cushions make your legs turn to gelatin after just a short test drive? Can you build the vehicle with heated or ventilated seats? Does the center stack give you enough elbow cushion and height? Is it easy to enter and exit the vehicle?

Don’t forget your passengers. Get intimate with the back; check for legroom and shoulder room, adjust headrests (if able), recline second-row seats. If you don’t feel comfortable back there, chances are your friends and family won’t, either.

If you need a suggestion for a comfortable SUV, look no further than the 2020 Honda Pilot. It offers three smartly crafted rows of seats for you and up to seven other riders. Pilot’s plush 2nd-row captain’s chairs are as first-class as seats come, and you’d be a fool to buy an SUV without first testing the Pilot out.

3. Don’t Forget Financing

If you know you’re going to buy a specific car from a specific dealer, it may be beneficial to secure your auto loan and financing terms before your test drive. You’ll save time and reduce stress by getting pre-approved for a car loan online, while also reducing your chances of feeling buyer’s remorse.

4. Don’t Test Drive a Manual if You’ve Never Driven One

Cars with shift sticks are a blast. Take the Honda Civic Si Coupe, for example; its cockpit is built for speedsters, as is its 205-horsepower turbocharger and adaptive damper system. However, your test-drive appointment isn’t the time to get behind the wheel of a manual for the first time.

5. Don’t Test-Drive-and-Buy

If you visit a Miami car dealership for a test drive on Thursday, don’t decide to buy the car until at least Saturday—even if you absolutely loved the vehicle. We realize this suggestion is sacrilegious to the Car Dealer Code; but we’re here for you, not us. After a test drive, it’s almost always best to sleep on your decision. Like point no. 3 above, following this tip could also reduce your chances of falling into a pit of buyer’s remorse.

Now that you’ve got the ins and outs of test driving down, why not come up to one of our South Florida Honda dealerships near Miami to check out our selection? We have the newest Honda models available, as well as certified pre-owned and used vehicles for sale, and are always able to help with financing. Request your quote and test drive appointment online!