Test Drive Tips: What To Look For

October 13, 2015 - 2 min read

Before you fall in love with a car on a test drive, ensure you know what to look out for to ensure it actually suits your day-to-day and lifestyle needs. The last thing you’d want is to sign, seal and deliver on the sale just to find out you have to spend $10,000 more on upgrades. Find out what to look for in our quick guide to test driving cars.

Other than online reviews and visual inspections, a short test drive is your only chance to see if a car is really what you’re looking for. During this test drive you will need to determine whether the vehicle is a potential lemon or your next pride and joy. If you don’t know what to look out for, then you’re not making the most of the limited time you get. Check out our test drive tips that’ll help you make a more informed decision on your future investment.

Multiple Terrains

Although you don’t have much time, it’s crucial that you drive on as many different terrains as possible. From bumpy roads and everyday streets to steep hills and motorway driving, the more environments you try, the better idea you’ll have of how the car performs.


Apart from safety, comfort is one of the most important factors you need to consider when purchasing a new vehicle. From the moment you enter, you need to feel comfortable. Make sure you feel relaxed in the seat and can easily reach all the controls, without feeling cramped. If you have children, bring them along for the test drive and ask if they feel comfortable in the back. While you’re driving, test the suspension over rough roads and speed bumps to see if you can feel any knocks and ripples.


Acceleration comes down to engine power, which is controlled by the transmission. During your test drive, you need to pay close attention to your take-offs. If they’re smooth and there’s a seamless transition of power, then you may be onto a winner. Give the transmission a good workout by taking off quickly and driving up steep hills during your test drive.

Steering & Handling

When it comes to handling, you want to make sure the car’s steering isn’t too darty, but still responds well to quick steering manoeuvres.You should avoid cars with steering that feels numb and disconnected from the wheels, as well as cars with steering that requires constant corrections on straight roads.

Listen Out

It may be tempting to give the sound system a good workout during your test drive, but it’s crucial that you keep things as quiet as possible. Turn off the music, shut the windows and listen for any unusual rattling noises. Listening to your engine is also one of the best ways to test its performance.

Not Sure? Go Again

At the end of the day it’s your money. If you’re not 100% sure a car is perfect for you, never be afraid to ask for another test drive—even if the salesman seems busy. If they say no, simply move on!

After purchasing a vehicle, you should always get it thoroughly checked out by a mechanic. We’ve featured a couple of Gold Coast mechanics who’ll be happy to help!