Preparing for a Test Drive: A Checklist

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Have you spent weeks or months researching vehicles because you need a new one? You have probably investigated everything from safety features, satisfaction rates, cost, fuel efficiency and so much more. However, you likely won’t choose your vehicle until you test drive a few. Whether you purchase a new or used vehicle, consider this test drive checklist.

Test Drive Preparation

Whether you find a new Ford for sale or you want to purchase a used car, you should take your prospects for a test drive. The first step in the test drive process should include creating your drive route. Choose a test drive that requires you to drive at different speeds, in different levels of traffic and on different types of roads. Plan to test drive several vehicles on the same day.

Before Your Test Drive


Before you test drive your vehicle, take a look at the exterior. Look for dents and damage, including rust, scratches, chips or cracks in the windows or missing parts. Check for recent or evident repairs on the exterior. Look at the tires’ tread depth, inflation and wear patterns.

Make sure the doors and trunk open and close well. Look for rust, and test the locks. Check the headlights, turn signals and brake lights. Look at the size of the trunk, the shape of the carpet and the spare and jack.

Pop the hood and look under the vehicle for leaks and fluid levels. Listen to the engine and exhaust as you run the vehicle. Check the exhaust system to ensure it is secure. Look through the wheels to get a view of the brakes, if you can.


Evaluate the upholstery and carpet for stains, tears and other damage. Check for cracks and damage in your door panels, dash and any leather in the vehicle. Remove any air fresheners and take a deep breath while the vehicle is off and then when it is on and the vents are blowing air to identify offensive smells.

Take a seat in the front and back of the vehicle to determine comfort level and leg room. Make sure you can adjust the seats to fit you properly. Also, test the steering wheel adjustment. Can you easily reach and adjust the controls? Fasten the seatbelt to see if it is comfortable.

During Your Test Drive

Your test drive checklist should include vehicle acceleration, transmission shift and handling. How do your shocks respond to bumpy roads? Check the alignment, brakes and steering responsiveness. Test for vibrations or play in the steering wheel.

Listen for a smooth-running engine. Then, check the internal features, such as the stereo, AC, heater, vents, four-wheel drive and cruise control. Test the technology, such as Bluetooth capabilities. Do the dashboard lights work properly? How about the seatbelts? Wash the windshield to evaluate your wipers and fluid. Check the power mirrors and your visibility.

After Your Test Drive

Get a comprehensive vehicle history report and have the car inspected by an independent mechanic. Research the maintenance and fuel requirements. Then, test drive it again.

Prepare Your Checklist

The research and preparation you do before your test drive, including preparing a checklist, will help you gain the information you need to choose the vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

Jess Allen
Jess Allen
Aloha Everyone I am Jess a vibrant writer fuelled by wanderlust and a passion for diverse subjects. From the thrill of travel to the intricacies of business, music, and tech, I like to crafts engaging content that reflects their zest for life and curiosity about the world

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