How To Make Your Most Telling Test Drive Ever
Released on: January 25, 2011, 7:08 am
ACF Car Finance
Trying out a used car? Even The Stig might learn something
from these top test-drive tips supplied by car buying experts at ACF
Car Finance, says the company's divisional manger of operations, Mark
Looking just a little bit sheepish, Chris shuffled up to the ACF Car Finance sales
executive in our Leeds showroom. "Look, I'm sorry about this, but would you mind
if I had another run out in that Vauxhall I test drove yesterday?" he asked. Our
man was delighted to oblige, but wondered if there was something about the car which
had worried him.
"No, not at all," said Chris. "But when I was describing it to my mates last
night, one asked if it had a trip computer and another wondered whether the brakes
were ABS. I hadn't noticed, and neither had I checked the legroom in the back, or
even tried reverse gear," he admitted.
It's so easy to completely forget about the details when you take a test drive, and
just to focus on what the car feels like and whether there are any odd rattles or
tell-tale whines. Of course, getting out on the road is a great improvement on just
kicking the tyres, but why not take a few tips from those in the trade about how to
get the most out of your time behind the wheel?
These suggestions come direct from our expert car buying team at ACF Car Finance who
spend literally millions of pounds each year on vehicles for our showrooms. Needless
to say, they only buy in line with our strict criteria, but at the end of the day
it's your opinion as a customer which matters most.
Here's their top ten pointers for ensuring that you return from your test drive a
+ Don't just take a spin around the block. Try and include a variety of roads and
traffic conditions to judge how the car handles in different situations, from a
straight A road to a crawl through the town centre with plenty of stops and starts.
+ Make a mental list of what aspects of the car's performance you need to be
assured about, including the efficiency of the brakes, how the steering feels, the
ease of changing gear, and the acceleration both from a standing start and while on
+ Ensure your seat is properly adjusted before you set off as this will help you to
judge the legroom and all-round comfort of the car as you motor along. How does it
feel compared with your current vehicle?
+ And it might not be just you who needs to be satisfied about comfort. If your
children or partner will regularly be in the car with you, it might be an idea to
take them along for the ride and to hear any doubts just once rather than on every
+ Talking of children, make sure you bring along to the test drive any child seats
you intent to use. Not all seats will fit easily in all cars.
+ What about the noise level? It can be difficult to judge this in isolation, so try
listening to the radio or chatting with someone else in the car to ascertain its
+ Look around as you drive, and assess the visibility. Any blind spots, or door
pillars partially obstructing your vision? These factors needn't be deal breakers,
but like the other aspects in this list, it's best to be aware of them before you
sign on the dotted line.
+ A clear view of your instruments is also important, so check that out - and
whether the car's controls and switches are easy to reach and operate.
+ Storage space can vary greatly, even between similar size models of car. Is there
enough room for shopping, or any sports equipment or other gear you carry regularly?
Does it make any difference if the boot's sill is higher than that on your present
+ Finally, when driving the car do resist the temptation to play with the
accessories. You can test the heating, air-con, stereo, and all those other buttons
when the vehicle has stopped. Concentrate on your mental checklist of performance,
comfort and safety factors.
If you follow these test-drive tips, I can guarantee that you will confidently step
out of the car with a pretty good idea of whether the vehicle is right for you. But
like Chris at the start of this article, it's still possible to walk away and
realise only later that there were a few details you forgot to ascertain.
That's why I suggest you also just jot down in advance the points you'll want to
be assured about - for example, whether your golf clubs will fit in the boot - and
the inventory of equipment, such as whether it's a standard or space-saving tyre.
Don't hesitate either to draw on the expertise of the showroom adviser. Members of
the ACF Car Finance team, for example, are extremely knowledgeable about the
vehicles they supply, and will gladly talk you through any points you wish to
discuss. Whatever questions you have, now is the time to fire away.
Just as an aside, when preparing this article I asked Chris's car adviser if he
could think of any really silly questions which customers had come up with. He
thought for a moment, and said: "Yes, the silliest questions are always the ones
which are left unasked." I think he's got a point, because if you don't ask,
you'll never know. Happy hunting!
About ACF Car Finance
ACF Car Finance Limited (www.acfcarfinance.co.uk) is Britain's leading supplier of
high-quality used cars to people whose credit status might otherwise prevent them
from obtaining vehicle finance.
There is a huge choice of makes and models on display at the seven ACF Car Finance
showrooms in Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, Bristol, Maidstone and
Dunstable - and each car comes with the benefit of a full 136 point vehicle quality
inspection and interior/exterior valet. ACF Car Finance has earned a strong
reputation within the finance and motor industry for its standards of customer care,
and the quality of the friendly, professional advice provided by members of its
fully-trained team. 44.9% APR Typical.
ACF Car Finance gratefully acknowledges the help of What Car magazine
(www.whatcar.com) and the Royal Automobile Club (www.rac.co.uk) in the preparation
of parts of this article.
Contact Details: Jane Whittle
ACF Car Finance
01244 320 677
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