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Test driving car

Buying a car is a very critical decision for most people.  A car will accompany you for years and years, so choosing the correct one is crucial.  However I've heard too often that people said that they have bought wrong car and become dissatisfied with the car.  Choosing a right car begins on test driving.  Here are my tips on how to test drive a car on dealer:

  • My message is at first you have to commit to test drive responsibly.  Do not fight the law and do not test drive if you are not interested to buy the car!

  • Test 1 is the ergonomic test, find the most comfortable driving position, try to adjust the seat's height and recliners.  Most importantly make sure that the car is big enough for you and your family!  Then starts to drive the car out of the dealer softly and gently.  For the first minutes try to change lines, then playing the audio, wiper, lamps, air conditioner and many things that is available to see the accessibility those things.

  • Test 2 is brake test.  You will need to drive the car to quiet street to test it is brake, ABS, EBD, BA.  Here you can do emergency braking to see the stability of the car, only for ABS cars, if necessary you can try to do fast corner while braking.  This will put the car's braking system to the limit and you will see how the car respond to the worst situation.

  • Test 3 engine test.  There are two engine tests that I usually conducts

    • First testing the engine's maximum acceleration.  This way you will need to pull the car as fast as you can, and feel the car's maximum acceleration, see whether this is enough for you.  This test is not important, it only shows how fast is the car. 

    • The second test is much more important, it test the engine for everyday use or engine's driveability. A good engine will have near maximum torque at lower RPM's, like 1500-2000.  I used to own an ACV 36 Camry, which engine could deliver 90% of its maximum torque of 220 NM at RPM as low as 2000 RPM.  This makes driving much more easier compared to other car that requires the engine to be pulled up to 4000 before the engine could deliver torque.  The easiest test is by driving on a straight road using 5th gear from 1500 RPM.  If you car can pull correctly without any knocking, it pass this test.  Modern car with variable valve timing usually pass this test.  Moreover, a car which can deliver big torque from low RPM will save you some bucks on petrol.

  • Test 4 transmission test.  A powerful engine is not enough to be pleasant to drive, especially combined automatic transmission, you will need to test the transmission, if possible bring the car to climb a hill.  Try to test the transmission's intelligence.  An intelligent transmission will hold to shift to higher gear when climbing, and will shift down when going down hill.  This helps you a lot especially when doing overtaking on uphill and helps to control the car when going down hill.  A car with stupid transmission will make you frustrated. 

  • Test 5 steering test.  Power without control is nothing.  You may disable the body stabilisation feature if you like to.  Then you will need to feel how the car understeer or oversteer and check whether the car's character matches you.  Some people likes a little oversteer while some others prefers a little understeer.  

  • Test 6 body control test.  After that you should test the car's body roll, do manoeuvres at your speed where you usually drives your current car.  This is the ultimate suspension system test, where the passenger comfort lies in.  Drivers usually don't really care with car's body roll, however passenger do!  Once in a while your grand ma might be your passenger, and she will be the one who complaint most!

  • Test 7 parking test.  Parking might be forgotten when test driving a car, but it is very important!  It might save you from shivering.  Try to park the car on parallel and reverse, you should be able to see all things around you clearly and make judgement whether the parking spot is big enough or not for parking the car. 

  • Test 8 is a new test that I've decided to put as standard in test driving.  It is the in cabin noise test.  This is not the DB test, since DB itself means nothing and different testing location means different DB will be recorded.  This test is for testing the noise from air conditioner, idling engine, and low and high speed vibration.

  • New test 9 fuel economics only for a car with a fuel usage gauge indicator.

  • And my last tip is do not test the airbag!  Trust me, it is hurt!

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