The Importance of Test Drives: What to Look for

Young man testing new car at a showroom

Key Takeaways

  • Test drives are crucial to making an informed purchase decision.
  • Observe the car’s exterior, interior, and under the hood before driving.
  • Pay attention to acceleration, braking, handling, and overall performance during the test drive.
  • Consider the car’s comfort, ergonomics, and technology features.
  • Don’t forget to assess fuel efficiency, safety, and reliability.
  • Trust your instincts and take your time during the test drive process.

Whether you’re purchasing a new or a used car, it’s essential to take it for a spin. The importance of test drives can’t be overstated. They allow prospective buyers to experience the vehicle firsthand and determine if it meets their expectations and requirements. 

This article will outline what to look for during a test drive and why it is essential for making an informed decision.

The Importance of Test Drives

Test drives are vital for several reasons. They help you:

  • Confirm the car’s condition and performance: A test drive allows you to assess its overall condition and ensure it functions as advertised. This is especially important when buying a used car, as it helps identify any underlying issues.
  • Evaluate comfort and ergonomics: A car may look perfect on paper, but seeing how it feels when you’re behind the wheel is essential. Test drives allow you to check if the seating is comfortable, the controls are easy to reach, and the cabin layout suits your needs.
  • Experience the car’s technology and features: Modern vehicles have various technologies, such as infotainment systems, driver assistance features, and connectivity options. A test drive allows you to try these out and assess their usability and effectiveness.
  • Assess the car’s fuel efficiency and environmental impact: By driving the vehicle yourself, you can better understand its fuel consumption and how it performs in real-world conditions.
  • Trust your instincts: Test drives enable you to trust your gut feeling about a car. If something doesn’t feel right during the drive, listening to your instincts and considering other options is crucial.

What to Look for During a Test Drive

Before hitting the road, inspecting the car’s exterior, interior, and under the hood is essential. Look for any signs of damage, wear, or potential issues. 

Once you’re behind the wheel, consider the following aspects during the test drive:

Acceleration and Braking

Check how the car responds when you press the gas pedal and how quickly it accelerates. Evaluate the brakes’ responsiveness and stopping distance, ensuring they feel safe and confident.

Handling and Steering

Pay attention to the car’s handling, especially around corners and on different road surfaces. The steering should feel precise and responsive, with minimal effort required to turn the wheel.

Ride Quality and Noise

Assess the car’s suspension by driving over bumps and uneven surfaces. The ride should be comfortable and smooth, with minimal road, wind, or engine noise.


Check your visibility from the driver’s seat, including blind spots and rearview mirrors. Ensure you can see clearly in all directions and feel comfortable with the car’s size.

Interior Features and Technology

Test the car’s various features, such as climate control, audio system, and navigation. Ensure that they are easy to use and meet your expectations.

Fuel Efficiency

Monitor the car’s fuel consumption during the test drive, noting how it performs in various driving conditions.

Safety and Reliability

Research the car’s safety ratings and reliability scores, and consider any additional safety features it may have.

Remember, it’s crucial to trust your instincts and take your time during the test drive process. If something doesn’t feel right or you have concerns, ask questions or take a second test drive.

Test-Drive Multiple Cars

It’s essential to test drive multiple cars before making a final decision. This helps you compare different models and find the one that best suits your needs and preferences. Depending on your requirements, consider test-driving vehicles from other segments, such as sedans, SUVs, or trucks. 

By doing so, you can ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of what each car offers and make an informed choice.

Bring a Friend or Family Member

When going for a test drive, bringing along a friend or family member is a good idea. A second opinion can be beneficial, as they might notice something you missed or provide a different perspective on the car’s performance and features. 

They can also help assess the car’s passenger comfort and space.

Test Drive in Different Conditions

To understand the car’s performance comprehensively, it’s essential to test drive it in various conditions. This includes driving on highways, city streets, and rural roads. 

Test drive the car in different weather conditions, such as rain or snow, to see how it performs in adverse situations. Doing so will give you a better idea of the car’s capabilities and help you make a more informed decision.

Take Notes and Compare

While test-driving different cars, taking notes on each vehicle’s performance, features, and comfort is crucial. This will make it easier to compare the vehicles later and help you remember the specific details that stood out. 

It’s also helpful to ask the salesperson for brochures or spec sheets for each car, providing additional information and making the comparison process more straightforward.

Don’t Rush the Process

One of the most critical aspects of test driving is to take your time with the process. Take your time and thoroughly evaluate each car before making a decision. This includes spending ample time behind the wheel, asking questions, and researching the car’s safety and reliability ratings. 

You can make the best choice for your needs and preferences by taking your time.


Understanding the importance of test drives is crucial for making an informed decision when purchasing a new or used car. By inspecting the vehicle, assessing its performance and features, and comparing different models, you can find the perfect vehicle for your needs. Remember to trust your instincts and not rush the decision-making process.

Ready to find your next car? Visit Auffenberg Kia of Cape Girardeau to explore our extensive selection of new and used vehicles. Our experienced sales team is here to guide you through the test drive process and help you find the perfect car for your needs. Schedule a test drive today and experience the Auffenberg Kia difference!