How To Properly Test Drive A Vehicle

You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes or pants without trying them on first in-store, would you? Ok, you might chance it under certain circumstances, but you’ll do so with the knowledge that you can return the item or at, worst, you’ll set back a few bucks. When it comes to shopping around for the right vehicle the stakes inevitably rise. Test driving is just part of the process, plain and simple. Trying before you buy gives you a good idea of what the unit offers, how closely it matches your needs and wants in a vehicle and allows you (the consumer) an opportunity to ask questions of a sales representative face-to-face. At Windsor Ford, we know that the test-drive can make or break your decision around what car is the right car for you. Here are a few helpful tips on things you’ll want to keep front-of-mind when taking your prospective next set of wheels out for a test spin.

It’s always a good idea to do some preliminary research before you even head out to a car dealership. Not only will this help narrow down your available options (in accordance with your particular needs and desires), it’ll provide you with an idea of what to expect from the vehicle you’re intent on trying out. Check out online reviews, read over editorial road tests, and look over the available vehicle specifications that pertain closest to you. Next, develop a shortlist of three to five candidate vehicles and start booking your road tests (either by contacting dealers directly or through online forms); ideally, you’ll want to arrange your test appointments in close proximity to each other (ideally back to back), so that your impressions of each vehicle are fresh in your mind. There’s some cynical logic to setting up your test-drives in rapid succession, too: having another appointment will also give you a valid reason to leave one dealership if you end up with a pushy salesperson that might come on too thickly, too quickly.

There’s a good chance that the vehicle you’ve got your heart on testing won’t be on the main dealer lot; there’s only a finite amount of space at any given car dealership and it’s not uncommon to see units that are double and triple parked in a desperate attempt to contain the entire inventory. Barring this, many dealers maintain satellite or “overflow” lots, which could be kilometers away! If the car you intend to test is sitting out at one of those lots, the salesperson needs to first, locate the key, then actually retrieve the vehicle (which may entail come automotive Tetris, depending on the parking/lot capacity situation), boost that vehicle (oftentimes sedentary lot-bound are deader than door nails, especially when left sitting out in the cold), and then, in the interest of prettying the car up for you, the potential customer, washing the unit. Think you can get around that by simply asking to test-drive the shiny showroom vehicle? Think again; in order to make that happen, a dealership is going to have to bend over backwards to open up showroom doors and move the obstructing show units just to free your pick. That all equals time wasted for you, the tester, and can sour what could have been a perfectly amicable experience in the first place.


Your test-drive ought to match your driving requirements. If you regularly find yourself driving through the mountains or on uneven terrain, find a hill and see how the vehicle does on inclines. If your commute involves the highway, hop on the nearest and check out the guts of the car by accelerating and see how it performs in dense traffic situations.


Acceleration: Does the car downshift quickly and smoothly? Whats the power like? Is there enough to get up hills and pass other vehicles safely?
Engine and ambient noise: How does the car sound when you strongly accelerate? Is the cabin rattly? Is there much noise emanating from the wheels?
Braking: How is the pedal feel? Do the brakes “grab” suddenly? Do they pulse? Most importantly, do they feel safe to you?
Steering and handling: Is the vehicle responsive? How connected do you feel to the road when you’re driving? A vehicle should require at least a little engagement from the motorist.
Suspension: Is it stiff or soft? Does the vehicle ride comfortably on a rough road? The ride is important; it could mean the difference between spilled or un-spilled coffee or, even worse.

Back at the dealership, the salesperson will likely invite you into the dealership to begin negotiations; if you’re not ready to buy at that precise moment, this is where having an appointment for another test drive pays off. But even if you love the car you’ve driven and have already made a decision, it’s smart to take some time to think hard about your options. Buying a vehicle is a huge financial decision and its not one you ought to take lightly. The friendly, no-pressure sales experts at Windsor Ford is excited to help give you the best test-drive experience possible. Contact us today or book an appointment online and start your journey towards a new set of wheels!

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Windsor Ford
AMVIC Licensed

10001 139 Ave
Grande Prairie, AB
T8X 0V3

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8:00 AM - 6:00 PM


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