OK, you’ve decided to buy a new vehicle, but can’t decide which one you want.
So let’s see if we can help you through the decision process.
It’s crucial to do independent research and don’t rely on the manufacturer to put you right.
We’ve seen plenty of so called ‘independent’ assessments on the relative merits of their cars against the competition boldly emblazoned on their websites.
They won’t publish anything on their website or in their glossy brochures that says anything nasty about their cars and, of course, you want honest, unbiased opinions, so you can make a balanced decision.
So where do you go?
An internet search engine like Google is a good start. Search for something like ‘new car test drives’.
Look for the car you’re keen on and look at the source of the article.
Newspapers are good, so are magazines, but remember who gives them advertising revenue (yep, the good old car makers), so even treat these with some suspicion.
The NRMA or other similar motoring organisations are good, and are not biased, but best of all, try the blog sites where enthusiasts talk about their cars. Home in on sites that are dedicated to your fancied car.
They may take a bit of finding, and a bit of wading through some pretty ordinary content, but you will get first hand comments on the good and bad points of the car you want to buy, and, as many of the comments are from the actual owners, you can’t get closer than that.
So much of the work can be done without leaving home.
In fact, in most cases you have done enough work to settle on a final choice of vehicle that you want. Now you can go on to the next stage of deciding your specifications, options, colours and prices, and here is where you can get the benefits from the makers’ websites.
But, if you are still undecided then you may need to test drive the cars on your short list and you need to know what to look for. So let’s see if we can help you in this process.
BEFORE THE TEST DRIVE
Draw Up A Checklist
Even before you visit the car dealer you may like to draw up a checklist, based on the key points of this article
Then, when you’ve finished your test drive mark your check list. This will make sure you remember all the good – and bad points (they may disappear into a haze of confusion after a few test drives).
AT THE DEALERSHIP
Take some time to walk around the car.
No need to worry too much about panel fit or paint quality as all new cars nowadays are prepared to excellent finishing standards.
But do look at the shape, the style, the lines.
Will the vehicle still be good to look at in a few years time?
Open the boot or hatch.
Is it easy to open.?
Is it at the right height, too high, or too low?
Is it OK to lift heavy bags into without straining your back? Will it take the golf clubs, the pram, the kitchen sink?
Do you like the look of the standard wheels or will you have to pay extra for the smarter option?
Don’t worry about the colour – yet! This must not influence your buying decision at this stage.
IN THE CAR- BEFORE YOU DRIVE AWAY
Spend several minutes just sitting in the driver’s seat. Get comfortable, make sure you’ve got sufficient back support, adjust the steering wheel for reach and rake.
Check your rear vision mirrors after you’ve adjusted them.
How well do they work? How big is the blind spot?
Having got your driving seat in position get out of the car and check the space in the rear compartment. Is there enough head and leg room for your passengers? Are there good fixings for the child seats? Are there plenty of cubby holes for storage?
Check the major accessories;- lights, horn, indicators, heater/aircon, radio etc. Make sure they are all accessible without taking your eyes off the road.
Can you easily familiarize yourself with their position?
Many European cars have their indicators and wipers on opposite sides to local models. Are you happy to adjust?
Does the salesman want to come with you? The answer is probably ‘yes’. That’s fine, providing you make it clear that he doesn’t interrupt your concentration and train of thought.
So ask him, politely, not to talk too much to you as you are out to test the car, not his sales techniques!
On the Road.
Don’t pussyfoot! Drive the car, test it out, check it’s limits.
If you see a pothole, drive over it (providing it’s not too big) to test how the suspension handles it.
Are you still comfortable whilst driving? Do all the accessories and controls still fall easily to hand whilst you are on the move?
How does the car handle in traffic?
Is it easy to manoeuvre?
Can you reverse park it? Try to. If you don’t and it proves difficult after you’ve purchased the vehicle you could be up for a lot of money for minor repairs, both to your vehicle and other parked cars!
Find some poor roads with bumps and bad surfaces. Check out the suspension.
Take the car out onto a faster road to check your comfort levels at speed.
Take the car home, make sure it fits into the carport or garage, that is has enough ground or roof clearance..
Whether it’s a manual or an auto you still need to be satisfied with the performance. Has it got enough power and torque, or does it struggle up hills and do you want more?
Use the local geography to your advantage, hills, dales, good roads, bad roads. Test the lot.
Remember, it’s your call, you’re planning to spend a lot of money. You must ensure you spend it wisely.
BACK AT THE DEALERSHIP
Now you can bring the salesman into play and ask him questions such as:-
• What’s standard equipment and what’s not?
• What are the claimed economy figures?
• What’s the safety rating?
• What is the length of the new car warranty?
Don’t give any more buying signals don’t feel obligated and don’t sign anything..
Simply tell the salesman that you have other cars on your shortlist that you need to test first.
When you’ve finished your testing, reached a decision on which car you want, you can then move on to the final stages of colour, specs, delivery and prices.
Of course, when it comes to prices you know that Private Fleet will be there to assist!