Maybe your old clunker finally died. Maybe, after months of consideration, you’ve finally decided to bite the bullet. Maybe you’ve come into a windfall. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to buy a car. Read these important tips about how to make your test drive experience more productive.


Complete your research before heading to the dealership. Know what models, trim levels, and options you are considering. Only test drive the exact cars on your list, and plan your day so that you can drive all your potential new cars one after another. It’s a good idea to bring a companion with you and let the salesperson that you will be comparing cars at other dealerships.


When you find one of the cars you’re considering, thoroughly inspect the car, inside and out. Analyze everything. Check out ergonomics, ease of use, and quality of craftsmanship, and make sure the seats are easily adjustable if there will be multiple drivers using the car. Whether it’s the middle of summer or the dead of winter, make sure to check the temperature controls to ensure the heat and air conditioning systems work. Are the gauges and screens easy to see and understand? Is it easy to operate the interactive features? Do the systems work with your mobile and other electronic devices? Test it out.


Once the engine is running and you’re behind the wheel, see how the car drives in real life conditions. Take it on multiple road surfaces. Quickly accelerate. Does the car have enough power to safely merge into freeway traffic? Do the brakes work well? Take multiple corners at various speeds. Abruptly change direction. Park the vehicle both parallel and front in. How much road noise enters the cabin? How windy is it with the windows down? What is the visibility from every angle?


When the drive is over, don’t be swayed to go to the salesperson’s desk. Instead, check out the parts and services areas of the dealership.


Ask more questions. What are the car’s safety features? Does the car take special fuel or require unique maintenance? What is the vehicle’s maintenance schedule? Find out the specifics about the warranties offered, including how specialty parts are handled.


After you’ve scrutinized everything and asked every question you can think of, leave the dealership. Repeat the process for every car on your list. After you’ve driven all the vehicles you’re interested in, decide which one best suits you. Then you may return to the dealership and start the negotiating.