First thing’s first. Naturally, you have a big fat list of all your dream cars, categorized by size, shape, color, fuel efficiency, and likelihood of purchasability, ranked from 1 all the way to 50 — or something like that — are we close? Don’t worry, we do the same thing. Now. Time to buckle down and actually pick out your top 4-6 models that you would GENUINELY CONSIDER buying. So narrow it down and block off a day or two on your calendar to schedule in some visit time.
Let’s say you do 3 per day – schedule the three you absolutely love most on the first day – it’s ideal for them to be close to each other so you don’t waste half the day driving from place to place (If you’re in LA, there’s a huge cluster of dealerships out in Glendale, and another over in Beverly Hills). Phone in and make an appointment for your test drive, leaving two or three hours between each appointment. By driving them one after another and scheduling them on the same day, everything will be fresh in your mind and you’ll find it easier to filter through what you want and don’t want. Make sure you’re firm with the salesperson that you’re simply test driving right now because you’re playing the field. Feel free to bring a girlfriend with you – like the one who’s pickiest and most brutal about what looks cute and what you definitely shouldn’t buy while shopping.
Something most girls don’t think about when going out for a test drive is actually treating the tester like you would in reality; this means loading it right up with as much junk as you normally haul around each week. Be realistic. If you take lots of road trips, carry a weekender bag to and from your boyfriend’s house, or want to make sure your weekly Target runs won’t be limited, this is an important step. So the day before your driving-session, throw everything you’d normally be dragging around into a bag or two. Yes, it’s annoying – but honestly shouldn’t you have an excuse to clean your car anyway?
It’s better to find out if your stuff won’t fit before you actually buy the car! If you carry your dog around, bring their empty carrier. If you’re a mom, bring your car seat, stroller, diaper bag, just to make sure it’s spacious enough. If you don’t bring much with you each day, that’s great news, and congratulations on being successfully minimalist! Maybe just bring your coffee with you to ensure the cupholders are in an ideal location and scope out where your phone holder would dock. Go ahead and also pack a notebook and start a photo library on your phone to take pictures of what you love and hate about each car.
Naturally, your sales guy, or gal, is going to be antsy to get you out the door and in the driver’s seat to start driving – tell them to chill out. They have nowhere else to be and you booked an appointment. Get into the car, and get out again. Is it easy? Are you having to clamour for the handle both on the door and on the ceiling to literally Tarzan yourself into the front seat? Is it a pain in the ass to adjust the front seat and the mirrors? Are your knees or elbows banging against anything on the way through? Check out the features – are they automatic, do they have memory seating? Does the steering wheel tilt and telescope? Can you reach the pedals comfortably or are you crammed right against the steering wheel? How close is your head to the headliner? Does the cabin feel tight or roomy?
Think of all the first things you do when you hop into your car, and follow the same protocol here. Eventually the salesperson will relax a bit because this is a big decision – this is YOUR car, so don’t let anyone put pressure on you to rush the process. Now feel free to jump in the backseat. Even if you’re always driving, it’s important to scope out the other seats for your passengers consideration. Is there enough legroom in the back? If your blunt girlfriend is there, now’s the time for her to offer up her opinions!
Alright. Now’s the time to revisit all that stuff you packed up yesterday. Look through the storage options inside the car – center console, glove compartment – check out the sizes and depth of each one. Now visualize: where would you throw your purse, phone, sunglasses, pepper spray – whatever.
Would all your stuff fit? Are they easy to access? Where are the USB ports for you to connect and charge your phone or laptop? Are the cupholders large and convenient enough? What’s the speaker system like? Are you impressed by the technology on the dash, or is it underwhelming? If you brought any baby stuff, install the car seat and analyze if it takes more or less time than it currently does. How much room is left? Ask the dealer about the safety ratings and airbag locations. Then move onto the trunk: do the seats fold all the way flat? Is it a 60/40 split ratio? Is the trunk easy to open? Does it have a motion sensor or does it need a key (which is a pain if your hands are full)?
Instead of just driving around the block, ask if you can drive it over to the nearby grocery store parking lot or for a drive-thru coffee. This is more realistic for your day-to-day than just driving down a somewhat busy road. Squeezing between aisles and pulling in and out of parking spots is something that you want to test out.
Try parallel parking it along the side of the road. What’s the turning radius like? Is it easy to maneuver? Do you feel like your circumference is so big and the nose of the car dives into oblivion? Is there a rearview cam? Can you see out the back and side windows easily or are you blocked with blind spots? Now you want to take it onto the freeway. Does it accelerate pretty rapidly? How are the brakes? How much effort do you have to put into the pedal? If you slam the brakes, how does the car respond? Is it a smooth, quiet ride, or is it loud and jerky? Test out the power, see if it’s a bouncy ride, settle into the seat and analyze how comfortable it is. When rounding corners, does it feel stable and smooth?
Make sure check out the ChickDriven Car Buying Service. This service allows our users to purchase a car, without the hassle and unnecessary pressure of dealing with car dealerships or pushy sales people. The service is completely personalized so that your car sale is managed from start to finish, until the car keys are in your hand. And to top it off, the service is free and your car comes with a gift AND a full tank of gas!