Did you know that over 50% of shoppers test drive just one vehicle before deciding to purchase? That’s like exclusively buying Red Delicious apples just because you ate a good one in 1998; there are dozens of actually delicious varieties to be gobbled up at your apple dealer (aka. the grocery store).
The same logic applies to vehicles. Here are some expert tips to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the test-driving experience at your local car dealer.
1. Take your time
If you need to test drive a vehicle for an hour, tell your salesperson. If you need to test drive multiple vehicles over the course of a few weekends, tell your salesperson. It’s your time, your money and your enjoyment at stake, so don’t let anyone tell you how long to test drive a vehicle.
2. Do your homework
Identify not just the type of vehicle—compact sedans and 3-row SUVs aren’t the same, in case you didn’t know—you want and need, but also which automaker to buy from. Once you’ve done your due diligence there, you can check model reviews, dealership reviews and lists of features that make specific vehicles stand out.
3. Schedule your appointment in advance
Although our Honda dealers in Arizona welcome walk-ins, we always appreciate customers who schedule a test drive preemptively. It’s the best way to ensure our shoppers are taken care of. As our mommas always said, “An organized dealership makes for great customer service.”
4. Pick a “test drive” day separate from your “buy a car” day
After you take a test drive, consider sleeping on your decision. You can always buy the vehicle after your test drive, but a good night or two of reflection can really put things in perspective.
5. Ask to test drive a specific model with a specific feature
If you want a certain package or type of feature or piece of technology, be sure to test drive a model that has that feature or tech. It’s the best way to get to know how you and those features mesh.
For instance, if you’d like to try out the HondaVAC® and CabinWatch®, be sure to ask your Honda dealer to get you behind the wheel of a new Odyssey Touring. You’ll be able to switch on the in-cabin vacuum to suck up imaginary French fries, as well as test the in-vehicle Big Brother system. Otherwise, you’ll have to make a guess based on showroom examples and YouTube clips—not the ideal way to buy a new minivan.
6. Bring a buddy or your family
Buddy-up with a pal to keep you calm and on track. Bring the family and car seats on your test drive, which will allow everyone to sample the goods. Perhaps your 6-year-old has an insight that you hadn’t thought of—they can be smart as whips.
7. Bring a bike
Cycle to the dealership with the expectation of testing out the vehicle’s roof racks, cargo area or truck bed. If you don’t choose to buy that day, you can burn double the calories by biking back home.
8. Focus on your hands, feet, and booty
How does the steering wheel feel on your palms? Is it easy to turn? Do you find the steering wheel buttons to be intuitive? Are your fingers able to rest comfortably in your normal day-to-day posture? (The Honda Accord has a really underrated steering wheel “nook” that accommodates index fingers quite well—just sayin’.)
Are the brakes responsive when you apply pressure to the pedal? Do they feel too spongey or loose? Do they provide adequate stopping power?
How’s your backside/rump/booty/badonka/butt/gluteus feel in the driver’s seat? Can you adjust it easily? Do you slide around when Matrix-ing around corners? Is a short 20-minute test drive leaving you numb or fidgety? Can you enter and exit without throwing out your back?
These are questions you should be asking your body as you test drive a vehicle.
9. Do the “Walkaround”
The “Walkaround” isn’t Arizona’s newest dance craze—it’s the must-do task that should begin every test drive.
Literally walk around the vehicle to inspect for scratches, rust, dents, paint chips, window cracks or any other issues. Inspect the seats for stains and tears. If you’re buying a used car, inspect the trunk for strange stains or smells that could indicate past water damage (or if its previous owner may have been a weirdo). Inspect the lights, audio and gauges for signs of defect.
Just inspect everything your eyes can see.
10. Come to the dealership prepared
Bring your driver’s license, proof of insurance, proof of employment and at least two documents that prove your residency. You may not need all the paperwork, but your dealer will appreciate your fastidiousness.
11. Test drive your normal commute
If you live and work near your car dealer, make an effort to replicate your normal commute as you test drive. And be sure to test drive on both the highway and in stop-and-go traffic.
12. Always ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask your “chaperone” questions as you take a test drive. Your dealer’s salesperson should be able to answer most anything about the vehicle, including what’s covered under warranty, what the maintenance schedule is like and how to connect your phone to Bluetooth.
If they’re not able to answer those questions, you may want to try another dealership.
13. Get your financing done early
Applying and getting pre-approved for a car loan early will save you time at the dealership. This information also ensures you’re barking up the right tree in terms of budget.
14. Ask to test drive solo
Some car dealerships allow shoppers to take test drives without a car salesperson riding shotgun. Some require it, however, so you should ask your dealer when you schedule your appointment. If you are able to test drive the vehicle alone, you may feel more comfortable testing out its features and its highway acceleration.
15. Don’t test drive a manual if you’ve never driven a manual
Your test drive isn’t the time to begin your Baby Driver transformation. While that Honda Civic Sport two-door—the one with the 6-speed stick shift and glorious performance-driven sports pedals—may look like a winner, if you don’t understand how a clutch works, it’s best to ask a friend to
ruin try out his or her car first.
Ready to test drive a new Honda in Phoenix? Swing on by your nearest Valley Honda Dealers showroom to get started. Request a quote online, browse our current Honda special offers and explore all the newest Honda models before your visit.