Buying a new car … whether it’s brand new or just new-to-you … is a bit like your first love affair. You see it; you want it; you take it for a spin around the block … or maybe three or four blocks … and you’ve just got to have it.
You get it home and everything is fine for a few days and then little problems start to arise. The driver’s seat isn’t quite as comfortable as you first thought … rear vision is a bit limited … the front pillar on the driver’s side is big enough to hide an articulated bus as you almost discovered the hard way.
It doesn’t quite fit in the garage the way the old car did … putting the kids into their seats or onto their boosters in the back seat makes your back hurt … and you never seem to be able to get any air out of the centre vents.
By the end of the second week buyer remorse has set in but there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re stuck with it … if it was a love affair it would be over by now and you would be out looking for another hot guy or girl but it’s a car and it’s depreciated to almost nothing and you owe more than it’s worth … and there’s just no going back … you’re stuck with it!.
At its worst it’s a sad tale of woe and despair and it’s never going to get any better … at least not until you’ve paid it off and you can trade it in on something that’s not such a dog. Even if it isn’t quite as bad as all that you’re still going to be stuck with a vehicle that you’re not happy with and that’s a pain that you don’t really need.
It’s a trap that many car buyers fall into and the sad thing is that they don’t have to be in that situation. Of course the car sales person is going to want to close the deal quickly so after the spin around the block the pressure is going to be on but that’s no reason for you to rush into making the purchase.
A new vehicle is a major investment and it’s something that you’re going to have to live with for quite some time to come so don’t rush things. Sure take it for a test drive around the block and then take it a whole lot further.
Drive it where you would normally drive it
Drive it into some heavy traffic; take it into a supermarket car park and into a multi-level car park at your nearest shopping centre. You’re going to want a car that’s easy to maneuver in tight spaces … that’s easy to park … and easy to get out of once you have parked it and how will you know if your new car fits those requirements unless you’ve tested it in that environment?
Drive it with the kids in it
Kids can be a real distraction when you’re trying to buy a new vehicle but you need to have them with you. You need to be able to see whether or not they’re comfortable in the new car … you need to see how easy or difficult it is to get them in and out of the car in tight parking spots. If they’re not happy then you’re certainly not going to be happy either
See how it fits at home
Drive it home and see if it fits in your garage. That may sound rather dumb but if you live in an older home then just maybe the garage isn’t going to be big enough for the new vehicle. You might even find that there are problems with your driveway that prevent the new vehicle from even making it to the garage. Low cars and sudden changes in driveway gradients are a recipe for a lot of under-floor damage
Test it for comfort
Drive it around for more than just a few minutes to make sure that you’re going to be comfortable in the car. Make sure that it’s easy to adjust the seat and that the seat really does support your back. Check to make sure that the passenger seat is comfortable to ride in too. Very few cars come with the same adjustable lumber support in the passenger seat that you get in the driver’s seat so you might feel great after a long trip while your passenger feels less than ordinary.
Let your significant other drive it
If you have a partner and they’re going to be driving the vehicle too make sure that they spend plenty of time in the driver’s seat. I know one guy who bought a car after only he drove it only to find that his wife … whose body shape was a little larger than normal … couldn’t drive the car at all. She was short and needed to sit close to the steering wheel but in that position the seat belt couldn’t be deployed around her. It could if she sat further back but then she couldn’t reach the pedals.
Of course there will always be that initial excitement when you first sit in the car you’ve been dreaming of and it can fool you into overlooking a multitude of design faults in the car that will come back to haunt you later.
You won’t be the only one who has found themselves in a situation like that. It even happens to people who review cars …and you’ll find one reviewer’s experience here with no less than the 2010 Chevy Camaro – a car that looked good, went well but wasn’t designed for drive-throughs.
Don’t be like that reviewer, take your time and make sure that your test drive really is a test of the vehicle to see how it measures up to your needs and your driving situation.