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What to Ask During a Test Drive

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By Erin Thompson on July 29, 2020 in Life Hacks

A test drive is one of many important actions to take when deciding to buy a car. No matter if you choose a sports car or a minivan, a test drive can be both exciting and nerve-racking. Here at Say Insurance®, we’ll give you a few important questions to ask on your next test drive!

First thing’s first. Before hopping in the car, look into the history of the vehicle. Kelley Blue Book and Carfax are two reliable sources to use when considering a vehicle purchase. Kelley Blue Book provides an average price range and “KBB ratings” for the car. On the other hand, Carfax provides a more detailed look into the history of used cars. They will provide details on accidents, recalls, airbag deployment, multiple owners, commercial or personal use, and much more.

If you’re still interested after completing your research, you’ll want to take the car for a spin before buying! When you get behind the wheel of your potential new ride, listen to the way it starts. Startup times and sounds can vary from car to car, but this shouldn’t take more than two or three seconds. Pro tip: make sure the radio, heating, and AC are shut completely off so you can hear the engine. Listen for any irregular sounds while it starts such as a low aggressive rumble. This is a red flag—especially if it’s a newer car!

As you leave the parking spot, listen for a high-pitched squeaky noise when braking. Try slowing down gradually and abruptly coming to a complete stop. A squeak during either of these might mean the brakes or rotors need replaced! In that case, ask whoever you’re driving with, “When’s the last time the brakes were serviced?”

Another great question to ask, “When was the last oil change?” Don’t be afraid to request an oil change before you buy if it’s been a while since the last one! Oil is the life blood of the car, so beware if something is wrong with this system as it can mean catastrophic damage. If you notice the car jerking or shaking while switching gears, this may indicate the need for an oil change or could be as serious as a bad transmission. Transmission issues can get very expensive, so be careful here!

During this vehicle tryout, it’s a good idea to drive on the highway and get a feel for the stability of the vehicle. Make sure the car can travel a reasonable distance on the highway without any strange sounds or smells. If the vehicle passes all of these initial tests, consider taking it to a trusted mechanic for one final look!

Erin Thompson is the Marketing Manager for Say Insurance. She's responsible for guiding the strategic direction of all Say marketing campaigns. Prior to joining Say, Erin worked for a media agency based in Columbia, MO. She spent several years developing successful advertising campaigns for a diverse set of clients across the United States. Erin began her career in television advertising after earning her Master’s from the University of Missouri Journalism School with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her love of communication and helping people directed her to the insurance world.