The Best Test Drive

 Since buying a car is an expensive proposition and you live with that decision for at least a couple years, it is important to start right. That includes doing a proper evaluation of the car with a thorough feature review and a complete test-drive: Here is a list of things to check:

1. Interior comfort: is the vehicle easy to get in and out of (front and back doors)? Do you bump into anything? Do the seat controls allow you to get comfortable? Is there a lumbar support? Is it adequate? Can you easily reach the pedals and still maintain a safe distance from the steering wheel (and air bag)? Sit in all seats--are they all comfortable?

2. Storage space: will the cupholders hold what you want them to hold? If you haul around a lot of stuff, will your stuff fit? is there room to store the items you use (in the console, glovebox, etc.)? What about storage for golf clubs, strollers, pet carriers, etc? Remember, it's easier to buy the right car than it is to change your habits!!

3. Touch everything: are the materials on the dash, door panels and seats of high quality or cheap and flimsy? Does the console and charging ports work for your personal electronics habits? Turn the radio knobs or try out the touch screens--are you going to like the way they work?

4. Take a test drive: go to a shopping center parking lot and park among other cars. When you try to get out, can you easily see oncoming cars? How are the blind spots? Are the mirrors adequate? If the vehicle has a back-up camera, check it for clarity and scope. Does it have a wide field of view and reference marks for showing approximate distances to objects? Make a u-turn. Is the turning radius acceptable? Accelerate hard and brake hard--make sure the engine power and the stopping power are acceptable to you and your family. Ride over hard bumps and speed breakers to see how well the vehicle absorbs impacts to the suspension. Get up to highway speeds to check for road and wind noise with the radio OFF. Then listen to the sound system to insure it meets your standards. Finally, check the lighting system (inside and outside the car). If you don't like orange, red or blue gauges, now is the time to find out. And headlights vary from car to car--test them at night to make sure they work for you.

I realize that is a lot of things to check, but it is really only a partial list. The key is not to get in such a hurry that you skip important steps and abandon all reasoning ability due to your excitement. It has happened to all of us, but now that you know, you have no more excuses for buying the wrong car even if the price is great.
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