A simples guide

How to do a test drive?

By the time you consider test driving a car, you’ve probably already got your heart set on it, haven’t you? But a test drive shouldn’t be seen as ‘just a formality’ it’s your opportunity to really see if you’re happy with what is potentially one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make except for your house. If you’re a bit nervous or haven’t got a clue about what to look for, then here’s some test driving advice.

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Before you get in the car

Always check you’re insured before you set off on your test drive. If you’re buying your car from a main dealership, then this usually won’t be a problem as they’ll have cover in place.

If you’re buying from a private seller, you’ll have to make sure that your own insurance will cover you. You can check by looking at your policy, if it says you have Driving other cars cover (DOC), then you’re ok. To be absolutely sure, it’s worth calling your insurance provider before you get into the car.

If you’re buying privately, the seller may insist on coming with you – you might have a trustworthy face but they’ve got no guarantee you won’t drive off into the sunset never to be seen again.

Check that you’ll also be able to start the car from cold. A warm bonnet suggests that the seller may be hiding a starting issue.

Are you sitting comfortably?

If you can get into the car, then that’s a good start – it’s worth checking that doors open wide enough for you to comfortably get in and out. Make sure the same applies to the passenger doors, especially if you have elderly relatives or anyone else with mobility issues who’ll be using the car too. Doors should also be big enough to let you add and remove any child car seats you need – struggling with a bulky baby seat is the last thing you need to worry about.

Once you’re in the driving seat have a look around, can you see all the instruments on the dashboard, are the mirrors adjustable and can you alter the seat position and head rest? If you’re the main driver you need to feel comfortable and safe.

When you turn on the ignition, make sure everything works and that there are no funny noises such as clanking or rattling. Try the washers and wipers, the horn and any navigation and sound systems. Fancy car gadgets can be great fun but the novelty will soon disappear if you can’t get them working.

Check the ventilation works, is there air conditioning and more importantly, does it work? Because sitting in a traffic jam in 30 degrees is no one’s idea of fun.

When you’re out and about

Trundling down to the shops is all very pleasant but slightly irrelevant if you’ll be using the car on motorway journeys. Driving on as many different roads is good practice, it’ll let you get a feel for the car in a variety of contexts.

You should also try parking, reversing and even going round roundabouts, carrying out all these regular driving tasks will give you a better understanding of how the car handles and whether you like it or not. You could have the car of your dreams but if you can’t park it you’ll look pretty silly.

keys, calculator and pad
car wheel in sunset

What else should I consider?

Think about how you’ll be using the car, if you have a family, can you get all the car seats in, is there room for the buggy in the boot as well as all your other shopping? If you do have kids, consider taking them along, it might feel like a pain but you need to be sure that the car works for all of you.

Only fools rush in

Isn’t that how the song goes? They’re wise words and you should apply them to buying a car. At the end of the day, anyone selling a car – whether dealership or private seller, should appreciate that you’ll want to thoroughly investigate what you’re buying. Take your time, sleep on it if you can – chances are it’ll still be there tomorrow and if it’s not? Well, c’est la vie.

But there’s one constant in all of this – car insurance. Whatever car you decide to buy, you’ll need to insure it and just like when you buy a car. Look for the cover you need, not what’s cheapest because it could end up costing you more in the long run.

So, sit back and let us take the helm, we’ve got more than a hundred trusted insurance providers giving you choice, value and peace of mind; start comparing the market today.

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