What to expect on a test drive if you’ve never done one

What to expect on a test drive if you’ve never done one

Posted by Henno Havenga on 12 Jul 2022

New Ertiga WhiteSo, the big day has arrived and after looking around, reading up, and listening to comments from friends and family, you are finally set up for a test drive in your dream car. However, the test drive is not a random thing and you need to go to the dealer prepared.

Estimated reading time: 3 minute, 15 seconds.


The test drive is your opportunity to make sure all you have seen, read, and heard about the car suits you perfectly and is, in fact, everything you hoped it would be.

The most important thing about the occasion is not to be too excited and rush the proceedings. Equally, do not let the salesperson rush you or pressurise you–take your time and go through each part of the drive step-by-step.

First Steps

  • Sit in the driver’s seat and take time to adjust it and the mirrors to the perfect position for you. The seating position is vital for safer driving because once you sign on the dotted line, you are going to be sitting in that seat for a long time
  • Go through all the switches and controls. Understand what each one does and ensure you are able to reach them easily without taking your eyes off the road
  • Check forward, rearward, and side vision–identify where your blind spots are
  • Look inside the boot or luggage area and understand how to adjust the seats, where the spare is located, how to remove it, and where the jack and other tools are housed

The Drive

Your drive route should include urban, rural, and highway driving, preferably on roads you already know quite well.

The purpose of the test drive is for you to get a good feel of how the car reacts in traffic and on the open road; is there a lot of wind or road noise; does it accelerate smoothly; are there noises or rattles and, most relevant, is it something you can live with?!

Test Drive Tips

  •   If you are in a manual car, check how hard it is to push in the clutch all the way. Can you easily control the release?
  • Is the pull-off smooth? This applies equally to an automatic
  •  In a manual, do the gears slot easily and accurately into place? Are you comfortable with the placement and action of the gear lever?
  •  In an automatic, are the changes up (and down) smooth?
  • Do the brakes stop the car smoothly?

All of that should take place on urban roads, in traffic, and with the kind of stop/start driving you would experience on a daily basis going to work or shopping etc.

Moving up to a rural road, you can check:

  •  How does the car feel over the kind of bumpy surface often found on rural roads? Does it ‘iron’ out the bumps or are you being shaken about like a leaf in the wind inside the car?
  • When you turn into a corner, does the steering respond accurately with the car going exactly where you have pointed it?
  • Is there a lot of body roll during cornering?
  • Does the seat keep you firmly in place?

The highway portion of the drive is an opportunity to check all of the listed items again at a higher speed as well as looking at:

  •  How is the car affected by side wind?
  • Does it track straight and true or does it have a tendency to ‘wander’ on the highway?
  • Are you easily able to maintain highway speeds?

This will give you a good indication of how you and the car you desire will happily ‘gel’ together as a pairing for many kilometres of motoring.

Being prepared by knowing ahead of time what is expected and what to expect from a driving test is vital.

Knowing upfront what is going to happen on your test will eliminate any sudden surprises and do a lot to calm the nerves. Prepare for the test by understanding what you need to take with you and what will happen on the day.

Don’t even know where to start when you walk into a Suzuki dealership? What questions to ask our expert dealers? No worries, we have a handy guide that you can download here.

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Topics: Buying a car

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