by Pat Goss
Sooner or later, we all have to buy a replacement car; whether it’s a new car or a used car, whether it’s a truck or a van, or a passenger car. No matter what it is, one of the most important things that you have to do is a road test. And before you do that road test, you want to do a walk around the vehicle; you’re looking for obvious things, like paint overspray under the hood and various things that are…well, they may not be positioned right and stuff like that. But once you get all of that done, if the car passes, it’s time for a road test.
Once you’ve done your walk around, and if you’ve found no problems, get in the car and start checking things for comfort; things like the seat belt, can you easily reach it, can you buckle it easily and does it fit properly. Then, look at things like the rear view mirror; can you adjust it, is the visibility good. How about the pedals? Can you get the seat in a position where you can easily reach the pedals? The big thing in here is to make sure that all of the ergonomics, all of the things that you use on a daily basis, the visibility and so on matches you. Then, if it does, it’s time for a road test.
On your road test, you want to drive under as many conditions as you possibly can that mimic what you do in your normal driving situation. In other words, you want to drive highway if that’s what you primarily do. But, you also want to mix; you always want to drive the vehicle at low speeds as well as high speeds, you want some smooth roads, you want some rough roads. You want to make sure that under just about any condition that you can find that the car feels good to you. Now, one of the things you don’t want to do is you don’t want to go on one of those pre-programmed courses that the salesperson wants to take you on. Make up your one, and if need be, why, figure out a course before you even go to the dealership.
Now, another thing that you want is you want to go to, maybe, a parking garage, where you can park nose in and you can back out. See how it feels to maneuver in tight places. Also, go onto a side street and parallel park the vehicle, because some cars are much easier to parallel park than others. Along through all of this, you want to make sure of how the car feels, how it accelerates in traffic, how your visibility is, how all of the ergonomics of the vehicle are, how they work out, can you reach everything, can you see everything, are the seats comfortable, do the various controls work smoothly and so on. And remember one thing, there are lots of cars – new cars, used cars, it doesn’t make any difference. There are lots of them out there, so if this is not the car for you, well, don’t settle, look for the one that is correct. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.