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Summer is the season for checking out new cars! Popularly, investing in a new vehicle seems to be most popular in the warmer months as dealerships are gearing up for higher sales volumes and pulling out all stops to make a buck. There is one crucial part of your buying process, however, that you should take most advantage of, and that is the test drive.

Before even considering scoping out a new or pre-owned vehicle, you need to sit down and assess your needs. What are the most important features I want in a new car? Am I on a budget? Is safety or style more important to you, or would you rather have a car that’s good on gas mileage? There are a lot of factors to consider when you are searching for the right car. But about the test drive, we have compiled a few steps you should consider when making that journey with the salesman.

Step 1: Simulate a real day of driving – Don’t just take the car around the block. You want to know what it would be like in one of your normal routines. So, instead of going around where the salesman suggests, maybe take a shot at driving to where you work or close near where you live. Something that would give you a chance to see how the car moves in a semi-normal situation is what you’re looking for.

Step 2: Never go alone – The best thing to do is always bring a friend with you, preferably one who knows more about cars than you do, and have them sit in the back during the test drive.  While you’re focused on chatting up the salesman and taking the car for a spin, then your friend will have a chance to observe everything else you’re unable to pay attention to.

Step 3: Give the car a walk around inspection – Don’t just immediately be entranced by the shiny new paint and the persuasion of the guy who wants your dollars. Walk around the car you’re interested in. Check the tires, lights, mirrors, windows, and the whole frame.  Look for any outer damage such as dents, scratches, or scrapes. When you start the car, be sure to have someone check to see if all of the turn signal lights, headlights, brake lights, and so forth are also in proper working order.

Step 4: Thoroughly inspect the interior – Don’t just get in the car, adjust the mirrors, and get to driving. Start by opening up the back end.  Look at the upholstery and the carpet; check for any stains or damage that could be there. Have your friend do a second look over as well while you’re inspect the interior on the outside.  Then, have them check the inside as well. Do the same for the front end.  Check the dash, the main console, glove box, and all other front components of the car for any damage or wear. When you turn on the car, be sure to investigate the sound system and other electrical components on the main control center. Check your AC and make sure the air conditioning blows cold, the GPS if you plan to drive long distances, and even if it’s hot out be sure to check the heating as well. Everything you can find in the cabin give it all a good test run. Another thing to consider, even, is adjusting the seats back and forth as well as turning the windows up and down. You want to be sure what you’re buying is in perfect condition – even if it’s used.

Step 5: Always ask questions – Never leave any stone unturned. You want to do know everything there is to possibly know about your potential investment, so don’t be afraid to ask the salesman every question under the sun. It may be a wise idea before you come to have at least a couple of questions prepared ahead of time. It can be as simple as questions about the warranty, car features, or anything you have in mind.  Again, the idea is to make sure you’re comfortable with your purchase.  While cars depreciate over time, it’s always going to be a lifelong investment due to the excessiveness of use we put into our vehicles. The longer you can make it work, the better of an investment for you.

These are some of the things we suggest you consider implementing when test driving either a new or pre-owned vehicle.  You never know what you will come across when trying to find the right car for you. Another way to be absolutely certain of your investment is to get a used car inspection.  Did you know that Integrity Automotive offers a complete assessment of pre-owned vehicles? It gives you a chance to have a certified, professional mechanic take a look at everything under the hood to make sure there’s not something wrong with the car you’re unable to see. Always, as well, when taking car out for a test drive, pay attention to any unusual noises during your route that should not come from a well working or new vehicle. Keep the air conditioning down and don’t turn on the music while you drive so you can even hear the faintest of sounds.