Test Drive Tips

Jun 14, 2022 | The Hub | 0 comments

Test drive tips

Taking a test drive is probably one of the most important things to do when it comes to buying a car. Not only can you ensure the car is working as it should be, but you can also get a feel for whether or not the car will be right for you.

So, what should you look out for when it comes to taking a test drive in the car you want to buy? And, most importantly, how do you get the most out of your test drive? Continue reading to find out our top tips and advice.

How much time should you allow for your test drive?

A minimum of 30 minutes is usually recommended. However, you can always ask for extra time if you need it. It’s not uncommon either for some car sellers to offer 24, 48 hour or even a week long test drive, but this depends on the car dealer.

30 minutes is usually a good amount of time to make an informed decision about the car, and remember, there’s absolutely no obligation to buy if you take a test drive. 

What you need to test drive a car

You need to make sure the car you’re interested in test driving is insured before taking it out on the road.

If you’re purchasing the car from a dealership, they’ll usually already have insurance in place which covers you, however, it’s always advisable to check with them on this before you jump in the car.You’ll also need your driver’s licence to show the dealership. 

However, if you’re looking to test drive a car from a private buyer, this is when car insurance becomes more of an issue. You can check on your own insurance certificate if you’re able to drive other people’s cars, and then you can show this to the private seller. Or, you can always take out temporary insurance which covers you for a few hours by contacting your insurance company.

What type of things should you be looking out for before a test drive?

Before you venture out onto the roads for your test drive, firstly have a look around and inside the vehicle to get a feel for it, and ask yourself the following questions. It’s also a good idea to bring a friend or relative along so they can offer their opinion too.

-Is it easy to get in and out of the vehicle?
-How is the driving position?
-Are you able to adjust the seat and steering to your specifications? And is it simple and easy to do?
-What is the driver’s view like? Can you see out clearly?
-How comfortable is the car?
-Is everything easily within reach? Such as the infotainment system, heating controls etc.
-Do you understand the instruments and controls around you, and are they easy to operate?
-Is there enough boot space for luggage?
-If you have children, is there enough room for child seats?

What to do when you test drive a car

Now you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to get out on the road to get a feel for the car and how it drives.

Get into a comfortable position, adjust the mirrors as needed ensuring you have a good view out of both the front and rear.

Steering & Handling

You want to take the car on various roads so you can experience its performance in different conditions. Try going on faster roads to see how it handles at speeds, does it feel planted and do you feel safe? Is the steering light and comfortable at slower speeds and around bendier turns?


If the car has a manual gearbox, does this shift smoothly without any clunks? Where is the bite on the clutch? If it is too high this could be a sign the clutch is wearing out. Remember though, every car’s bite point on the clutch is different.

As for if it has automatic transmission, do the gears transition smoothly and seamlessly?


During your test drive try to drive over some speed bumps and potholes to see how the suspension feels. Is the ride smooth and comfortable and does the suspension deal well with these obstacles?


Listen to see if there’s any unusual engine noise when you start the car and while you’re driving. Go on a combination of roads with varying speed limits to see how the engine copes and to find out if the engine is powerful enough for you. 


Try a reverse park or some other manoeuvres to negotiate the size of the vehicle, and the visibility from it. Are you comfortable with the size of the car and the handling of it?


So, there we have some basic tips on how to test drive a car. Remember after the test drive to go away and evaluate the things you learned about the car on the test drive, so you can make an informed decision about buying.

If you’re browsing for a new used car in London and see one you like and want to test drive, don’t hesitate to contact our team on 01708 863 247 to book a no obligation test drive.