By Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

November 1, 2022
What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car

What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car?

When was the last time you test driven a car? Maybe it was years ago, maybe it was just yesterday, but either way, we've got a problem. We've become spoiled with cars. But as technology advances, so do our expectations. Nowadays, most of us expect a lot from our cars.

In order to stay competitive, you need to test drive new vehicles before buying them. This is especially true if you plan to buy a used vehicle. This will help with your buying decision.

However, many consumers don't realize how important testing drives are until after they've bought a car.

This guide will help you understand why you should test drive a car before buying it and how you can do it without breaking the bank.

3 Easy Tips to Jumpstart Your Test Drive Journey

The test drive experience is one of the most important parts of buying a vehicle. But it doesn’t always go smoothly. Here are some things to consider when getting behind the wheel yourself.

1. Bring a Friend or Family Member Along

Bringing someone else along to the test drive makes it much easier. If you're nervous about driving a particular model, having another person there to take over while you focus on the road will make you feel better. Plus, it'll give you an idea of how well the car handles in different conditions.

They can remind you about checking blind spots, lights and give feedback on road noise. For example, you might want to also bring child seats to check how they might fit in the car or vehicle.

2. Know What Questions to Ask Before Arriving

Before arriving at the dealership, think about what questions you want answered. For example, do you want to know about gas mileage, safety features, or whether the car has Bluetooth connectivity? Once you've got those questions out of the way, you'll be able to ask anything else without feeling rushed.

It's important that you do your research to help make the buying process easier.

3. Be Ready to Walk Away

If you don't like the look of the car or don't feel comfortable with the salesperson, just say "no thanks." Don't let yourself be pressured into making a decision you aren't sure about. The dealership should also be able to provide you vehicle history reports to help review the service history. This gives you the chance to find a better deal later.

Remember there are PLENTY of options available. From years of experience, there will ALWAYS be opportunities to purchase a different vehicle.

Bring the Right Documents

The dealer wants to know what you're driving. And he'll want to see your valid driver's license.

If you don't have one, it's easy enough to get one. But if you do have one, bring it along. You might even want to print out a copy of the card for yourself.

Dealers are required to verify your identity before selling you a car. They use a process called "knowing your customer."

They ask questions about where you live and work, how long you've lived there, whether you have a job, and so on. They want to make sure you're not lying to them.

You might think that dealerships aren't allowed to check your ID against public records like court records or DMV records. But they are.

Do I need to bring proof of insurance?

As for car insurance, you don't have to worry since the dealership would have car insurance on all of their vehicles. However, if you are a first time driver, you most likely will be accompanied by the salesperson to ensure your test drive goes smoothly.

Upon picking up your car, if you decide to purchase, is when you would need to bring a copy of proof of insurance for the car before taking delivery.

Can you test drive a car with an expired license?

If your driver's license has expired, you may be wondering if you can still test drive a car. The answer is yes but it depends on the dealership. You can still test drive a car with an expired license. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First of all, you will need to bring your expired license with you when you go to test drive the car. This is because the dealership will need to see proof that your license is no longer valid.

Secondly, you should be prepared to answer any questions that the salesperson may have about your expired license. For example, they may ask why it expired and how long it has been expired for.

However it is up to the discretion of the dealership or the seller to allow you behind the wheel. Note, the seller and the dealership would be covered under their insurance should anything happen on the test drive.

But if you caused extensive damage, they may seek to sue you in order to recoup the losses.

What happens if you test drive a car and crash?

If you are considering test driving a car at a dealership, it is important to be aware of the potential risks involved.

While most dealerships have insurance that will cover damages if you crash while test driving, there are some exceptions.

If the dealership does not have insurance or if you are at fault for the accident, you may be responsible for paying for the damages. In some cases, your own car insurance may cover the damages.

Test driving a car can be a fun and exciting experience, but it is important to be safe and drive responsibly.

What age can you test drive a car?

To test drive a car, you must have a driver's license and a set of keys.. The age requirement for a driver's license varies from state to state, but is typically 16 years old.

If you are under the age of 18, you may need to have a parent or guardian present in order to test drive a car. Some car dealerships may also have their own age requirements for test driving a car.

Before you get behind the wheel, be sure to ask about any age requirements at the dealership. That way, you can be sure that you are legally allowed to test drive the car before getting behind the wheel.

Thing to Remember to Check on Your Test Drive

What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car?


Most people know to take a car for a test drive before making a purchase. But oftentimes people forget to check how comfortable the seats are. It's important to be comfortable in your car, especially if you're going to be spending a lot of time in it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when checking seat comfort on your next test drive.

First, make sure you adjust the seat to your own height and weight. You should be able to sit in the car with your back against the seatback and your feet comfortably on the floor. If you can't do this, the seats are probably not going to be comfortable for you.

Second, try out all the different adjustments the seats offer. Many seats have lumbar support, headrests, and other features that can make them more comfortable.

What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car?

Cargo Capacity

Cargo capacity is an important consideration for many car buyers. But it's not always easy to tell how much space a car has just by looking at it. The best way to get a sense of a car's cargo capacity is to take it for a test drive.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when checking cargo capacity on a test drive:

1. How many people will be riding in the car? The more people, the less space there will be for cargo.

2. What type of cargo will you be carrying? Bulky items like strollers or suitcases take up more space than smaller items like grocery bags.

3. How easy is it to access the cargo area or rear seats? If you have to climb over seats or open multiple doors to get to your stuff, loading and unloading will be more of a hassle.

4. Does it have good cup holders and a decent glove box? Storage space is a premium and you want to have the ability to make it your own.

What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car?

Ride Comfort

When you're on the hunt for your next car, it's important to take comfort into consideration. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a vehicle that gives you a bumpy ride. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure you're getting a comfortable ride.

First, take note of how the car feels when you're driving on smooth roads. Does it feel firm or bouncy? If it's too firm, it might be jarring over bumps and potholes. On the other hand, if it's too bouncy, you might feel every little bump and pothole.

Next, see how the car handles when you go over some bumps. Are they small, barely noticeable bumps or are they big, jarring ones? If they're big and harsh, that's definitely not ideal.

What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car?

Blind Spots

When you're out shopping for a new car, it's important to take it for a test drive first. But while you're behind the wheel, be sure to keep an eye out for any blind spots.

Thick pillars and other design features can obstruct your view, making it difficult to see other cars or obstacles in your path. This can be dangerous, especially when you're changing lanes or merging onto a busy highway.

Fortunately, there are some easy ways to check for blind spots before you buy. First, sit in the driver's seat and adjust your mirrors. Then have a friend stand at different points around the car, outside of your field of vision. If you can't see them clearly in your mirrors, then the car probably has some serious blind spots.

Of course, the best way to avoid accidents is to drive safely and defensively.

In addition, large blind spots will make parallel parking more difficult if your field of vision is obscured. You want to be able to see the parking curbs through your side mirrors.

What Do You Need to Test Drive a Car?

Features (Don't assume)

Before you sign on the dotted line for your new car, check that all the features you want are working properly. Definitely, air conditioning is standard but it's good practice to check that it is working.

Here are a few things to look for:

  • Does the car have folding seats? If so, try folding them down to make sure they work correctly.
  • Is there Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile device? Try pairing your phone with the car's system to see if it works.
  • Does it have Apple Carplay or Android Auto? Don't assume a display screen automatically means you have these features. Ask the salesperson or seller if it's equipped.
  • Is there blind spot detection? Test it out by driving next to other cars and see if the warning system goes off.

Don't be afraid to ask the salesperson questions about the features you want. They should be able to help you figure out how everything works. Once you're satisfied that all the features are working, then you can move forward with confidence knowing that your new car has everything you need.

NOTE: Learn from my mistakes, I purchased two luxury vehicles and assumed that they came with folding seats. Little did I know that BMW does not have folding seats as a standard feature. Secondly, my other purchase had an aftermarket backup camera which worked ok but it was not the factory OEM system.

As a result, the lane guides do not move with the steering wheel. It's not a big deal but it's always good to check for all the features and not assume.

Temperature controls

The average driver spends about 30 minutes behind the wheel each day. If you want to keep yourself safe while driving, it’s important to take care of the vehicle. One thing that many drivers overlook are the temperature controls in the car. These controls allow you to adjust the interior temperature of the vehicle, as well as the exterior temperature.

Get familiar with the HVAC system and make sure everything is working correctly. It should heat up in the winter and cool off in the summer.

How does it drive?

When you buy a new car you might think that you've got everything covered, but there's one important question you probably haven't asked yourself yet. How does it drive?

The riding experience is different from the driving experience.

  • Does the car have enough power to confidently merge on the highway?
  • Are the seats, headroom and driving position comfortable?
  • Are you comfortable parallel parking the vehicle?

Every car is different so take your time on your test drive. Can you see yourself driving this for your next road trip vacation? How do you feel behind the wheel?

As the driver, you will need to make sure you are happy with all of your answers to the questions above.

How is the Steering and Handling?

Steering and handling play an integral part in determining how much fun it will be to drive a particular model. However, many people don't know what to look for in terms of steering and handling.

Be sure to check the steering wheel and pedals before purchasing a new vehicle. Steering wheels are usually adjustable, allowing you to change the position of the wheel itself. Seat and steering wheel adjustments allow you to make changes to improve the way you feel while driving.

The steering wheel should provide feedback to the driver about how much power is being applied to turn the wheels. Are there any weird noises? or clunks? This can be a sign of worn bushings or struts.

If the car shakes on the highway, it could be a wheel that is out of balance or worse, bent. You will need to take that into consideration in order to factor in any future tire or wheel repair.

If the steering is off or not very good, it can be attributed to some of potential issues:

  • Poor alignment on a rough road
  • Misaligned tires
  • Soft a suspension due to worn shocks on bumpy roads

The car should drive straight and not pull heavily to the left or the right. In addition, the brake pedal should be firm and provide good stopping power. If you feel any pulsing in the braking, especially from higher speeds then you might have a warped rotor.

TIP: In case you wanted a in depth guide in test driving a car, check out our article, "How to Test Drive Car and Know in 10 Minutes if It’s Worth Buying"

After Your Test Drive

Your test drive should give you a better idea if you like the car and see yourself driving it in the future. It should help put your mind at ease from an already stressful experience. Sometime, depending on the dealership, you might be able to get to test drive further for an extended period of time.

In conclusion, after your test drive, you know whether or not you want to buy the car. But if you're still unsure, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. How does the car look inside and out? Does it seem like a safe vehicle? 
  2. Is it comfortable? Are the seats comfortable? Do you feel like you'd be able to sit comfortably for hours on end?
  3. What features does the car offer? Will it help you save gas? 
  4. How much does the car cost? Is it in your budget?

By now, you should have an idea of potential issues to bring to the negotiation table. There are other factors like the exterior and the interior condition of the car but we can cover that in another article. 

The test drive gives you a good idea mechanically on how the car drives, rides and handles. If this was your FIRST test drive of a particular car, it might be good to schedule a test drive of a similar or same model to compare. Perhaps, you found the car's interior space small and you need something bigger. 

All in all test drives are a great way to help get you closer to driving your next new car. Good luck!


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Anthony Santiago - Editor-in-Chief

About the author

I am a passionate car enthusiast who likes to help people save money and avoid headaches when it comes to cars. I believe that everyone can find the right car at the right price. I share my tips and experience so you can learn quickly and maximize your next SUV, truck or car purchase.

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