What to Look for When Test Driving a Car

What to Look for When Test Driving a Car

Written by DriveAxis.ca March 22, 2023

Test-driving a potential new vehicle is one of the most exciting parts of the process, but it’s worth considering a few things besides how nice the ride is. A test drive can provide valuable information on what kind of car you’re buying, and whether it’s well-suited for you and your family. When performing a test drive, try to focus on all aspects of a car at the same time, instead of simply how it handles.

To get the most out of your test drive, you’ll want to do a bit of research and get prepared before you head down to the dealership. That way, you’ll know exactly what to look for, without wasting time testing out cars that aren’t really worth your attention.


Obviously, it’s best to narrow down a list of potential cars you might wish to buy, instead of test-driving a bunch all at once. This will save a lot of time, while allowing you to focus on the ones that are best suited for you. This involves a bit of research which can be done from the comfort of home, with nothing but a desktop computer, laptop or phone.

Try browsing vehicles that best match the basic criteria you’re looking for. Figure out what kind of car you’re interested in, as well as drivetrain, your particular price range, and whether you want a hybrid or EV. From there, pick two or three cars that you might want to consider, and focus on test driving them so that you can compare them head-to-head. This will keep the experiences fresh in your mind so that you can decide on the best one.


Before even getting behind the wheel for a test drive, you’ll want to make sure the car has all the criteria you’re looking for. There’s no sense taking it for a spin if it doesn’t meet your requirements, and these can include everything from storage space and seating capacity, to overall size, safety features and tech.

A test drive should be completed when all the other criteria have been met. Afterwards, it’s just you, the car, and the open road. This will allow you to immerse yourself in the test drive without any lingering questions serving as distractions. Plus, it’s far more satisfying to say buy a car after a wonderful test drive!


It’s one thing to test drive a car for yourself, but your passengers should enjoy the ride as well, particularly if you have a spouse and/or children. You’re not the only one riding in the car, after all. Further, having a friend in the passenger seat means you’ll get valuable feedback from someone else who isn’t sitting behind the wheel. You’ll be far too enmeshed in the actual drive, itself.

If possible, try to bring a car-savvy friend or family member who knows a thing or two about the automotive world, as they can pinpoint certain things you may never have thought of. It’s also good to have that extra person around, as they may think of questions or concerns you might have otherwise forgotten about, or neglected to bring up.


It may seem weird to mention, but driving normal during a test drive is integral when it comes to producing the most accurate impression. There’s always the instinct to floor the gas pedal and see how fast a new car is, but don’t forget that you’ll be driving the car day in and day out. That means things like comfort, ride quality and braking (to name a few) should be taken into account.

A test drive can be exciting, but it should always be pragmatic in nature. Don’t let yourself get carried away with too much fun, or you may miss important things. You’ll want to make sure the car starts and stops well, has great maneuverability, handles bumps well, and is comfortable enough for the daily commute. You’ll also want to conduct things like lane changes to make sure the car in question doesn’t suffer from severe blind spots, especially if you do a lot of highway driving.


Today’s drivers are spoiled for choice when it comes to an assortment of tech packages and options, all of which are designed to enhance the experience. Don’t just play with all these bells and whistles, but instead, see how they interact in unison with one another. How easy is it to handle the air conditioning options? Do you understand the main dash, and things like cruise control? Do you see yourself mixing up the stereo volume knob with the heating dial very often?

The best cars have excellent options built in, but they’re also laid out well. The last thing you want is to spend your commute in confusion over all the dials, buttons and knobs in your car. If it works for you, then you know what to do. If not, you may wish to consider an alternative choice.


This one should go without saying, but when you’re test driving a car, take extra-special care. You’ll be in an unfamiliar vehicle with a totally different feel, steering apparatus and choice of engine. Even the brake and gas pedals may be different. Take a few minutes to get used to the car by going slow, and behaving carefully, or you may end up in an accident you didn’t intend on.

Thankfully, most people can figure out the feel of a car within just a few minutes, but even then, it’s best to err on the side of caution. And finally, if you’re going to test out the acceleration of a car, do it on an empty road, rather than a crowded freeway.


The best-looking (and handling) cars still deserve a walk-around to make sure everything’s good. You’ll want to be absolutely sure that the car is in excellent condition, and devoid of things like panel gaps, paint chips, tire wear and cracked glass. If there are damages or imperfections on a car, most dealers will let you know right away so that you can negotiate on price. Never assume, however. Make sure you’re being proactive in this regard.

This is especially true of pre-owned vehicles, which by definition are not new, and probably have a few imperfections here and there. Here at DriveAxis, we make sure all of the cars in our inventory have undergone a rigorous inspection process to make sure they’re in excellent shape both inside and out, as well as under the hood. Still, we invite you to do your own walk-around so you can be absolutely sure of our attention to detail.


Interested in buying a pre-owned vehicle, and taking a few potential candidates out for a test drive? Now’s the time to contact us at DriveAxis. We have a huge inventory of excellent pre-owned cars that are sure to fit your needs, particulars and overall lifestyle. We’ll help you select the best models to take out for a spin, so you can decide on your favorite.

As always, DriveAxis handles all financing via our own in-house department, which means everyone gets approved, despite their credit history. There’s never been a better time to come down and pay us a visit!

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