AAA Offers Test Driving Tips for Car Buying Consumers
AAA experts help consumers avoid the pitfalls of love at first sight.
ORLANDO, Fla., October 21, 2011 – It is easy for car buying consumers to fall in love at first sight with the sleek styling and attractive exterior of their dream machine. In most American households today, a vehicle purchase is a major financial expense, so a second look and an extensive test drive is time well invested.
AAA Automotive experts recommend that consumers start that test drive at the computer keyboard. Valuable information about vehicle safety features, performance data, and purchase pricing and resale value can be researched online. AAA can assist consumers shopping for a vehicle by providing information they need to make an educated decision at AAA.com/AutoBuying.
“In today’s economy, consumers have additional factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle, often making the selection process more difficult and extensive,” said John Nielsen, AAA Director of Automotive Repair, Buying, and Consumer Information. “There is no substitute for quality research and an in-depth test drive tailored to your personal driving needs, to help make a sound financial car buying decision.”
The physical test drive is the next step in the car buying research process. An extensive test drive can reveal many important factors not immediately obvious at first blush.
AAA recommends the following test driving tips:
Before You Drive. Walk around the car. Is it the right size for the needs of your family? Check the quality of the assembly and the tightness of the body panel alignment. Check for bubbles and pitting on the paint and chrome. Open and close the tailgate or trunk and doors. Does it sound solid and well made? Will the design allow for easy loading of luggage, sporting goods, and groceries?
Be a Backseat Test Driver. Ask the salesperson to take you for a preliminary test drive. You can focus on the ride without the distraction of driving, and you’re more likely to notice noise and overall comfort. And, of course, you can evaluate backseat room for future passengers.
Find Your Fit. Get in and try the car on for size. Check the leg room and visibility. How easy is it to adjust the seats? Are the controls easy to read, reach and use? Try all of the accessories and options, such as air conditioning, the sound system, and navigation aids.
On The Road. Drive the exact model of the car you want to purchase. Pick your own route for the test drive. If possible, pick a route that mirrors your daily driving routine. It’s a good idea to test the car’s ride quality and handling on a number of different road surfaces: city streets, hills, freeways, and winding roads.
Power. Test the engine’s responsiveness in real-world conditions. Is there a smooth and constant delivery of power? Try merging onto the highway, passing, and stop-and-go city driving. Spend part of the test drive with the air conditioner on to see if it drains power.
Transmission. Look for smoothness and ease of operation. Listen for hesitation or straining.
Handling. Check steering responsiveness. Practice long turns and sharp turns. Safely practice sudden swerves and gradual lane changes.
Brakes. Your life could depend on your brakes, so put them to the test. Brake both softly and decisively to gain an accurate idea of the car’s stopping distance.
Noise Level. At various speeds, listen for excessive engine, road, and wind noise. Check for squeaks and rattles coming from the interior and bodywork. Listen with the windows open and closed.
Parking. Parallel park to discover any blind spots or potential difficulty in identifying the corners of the car.
AAA recommends that consumers always have pre-owned vehicles inspected by a quality repair facility prior to purchasing. More than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities are located across North America. Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/Repair.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.