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How old do you need to be to test drive a car and what do you need to bring?

Young women enjoying test driving a car.

November 4, 2019. Buying a car is a big decision and it’s important to find one that is comfortable to drive and meets your needs. Test driving a few cars will heYoung women enjoying test driving a car.p you decide which one is right for you. Follow these tips to help you get the most out of your test drive.

What to bring with you

Your driver's license

To test drive a car you need to have a GDL license.

How old do you need to be to go for a test drive?

Because you need at least a GDL license to test drive a car, you must be at least 16 years old. You can’t go for a test drive with a learner’s license.

Whose insurance covers a vehicle on a test drive?

The owner of the vehicle you’re taking for a test drive must have insurance that covers another person driving the car. The car would be covered by the dealership’s insurance, not yours. The law only mandates that the dealership have liability coverage (to cover damage to another vehicle), not coverage for physical damage (damage to the dealership’s car). But because you can’t get coverage on your own insurance for physical damage to a car you’re taking on a test drive, that still falls under the dealership’s insurance, not yours. For this reason, you legally won’t need proof of insurance.

How to get the most out of your test drive

Think about if the car would be a good fit for you and make sure to drive the way you do every day. Here are some things to consider on your test drive.

Research the type of car you want

Narrow it down to a few options by reading reviews and articles, figure out your budget, and decide which features you need. Then choose only a few cars to test drive so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Bring a friend with you

They might notice things you miss.

Is it comfortable?

Is it easy to get in and out? Can you reach everything and are the seats and mirrors easy to adjust? Is the driver’s seat comfortable to sit in? Are the display screens and gauges on the dash easy to see and understand?

Does the quality feel good overall?

Check the sun visors, glove box, and upholstery and the smoothness of the shifter and how the doors close. These are all markers of overall quality.

Check out the storage space

See if the car is functional in the way the seats fold and how much space there is and think about how it would fit your everyday needs.

Will the back seats be comfortable for passengers?

See if there’s enough room and if the seats are comfortable.

Do you like the electronic features?

Spend some time figuring out the navigation, audio, and Bluetooth systems and any other features. Are they easy to use and do you like using them? Does the car have all the features you would like, such as a backup camera? Use them on your test drive.

What does the car feel like when you’re driving?

Different vehicles will have varied suspension setups, a sportier vehicle will often be a rougher ride then a family/luxury sedan. How does it respond to your driving input through corners or over rough road conditions?

Are you comfortable with the brakes?

Can you stop quickly but not too quickly?

Do you like the transmission?

If it’s manual, is it easy to tell what gear you’re in? For an automatic transmission, see if it shifts smoothly, especially on hills.

Maneuverability

Is it easy to parallel park the car? How is it at making a 3-point turn in a tight space? Go around some corners. See how the vehicle handles changes in direction and rapid shifting and try merging to get a feel for the acceleration.

Highway driving

Make sure to take the car on the highway to see what it’s like at higher speeds. See what the cruise control is like.

Noise

Is there much noise from traffic and the car itself when you’re driving?

Look for anything that will annoy you

Is there anything that seems minor but will annoy you every day, like not enough cup holders?

Some dealerships will allow you to take the car home overnight.

Do that if it’s an option or come back at night to see how the headlights and interior lights are.

Go for back-to-back test drives in all the cars you’re considering.

This will help you compare.

Take some time to think and don’t decide right away.

Following these tips will help you be prepared for your test drive and choose the car that works best for you.

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