We live in an era of online shopping. It’s all very convenient and if you don’t like what you get, returning it isn’t much of a hassle either. With the plethora of automobiles available in the market these days, it’s become quite common for consumers to take this approach towards car purchases as well.

However, the return policies on the car you’ve bought aren’t quite as straightforward as of those shoes you bought online yesterday. And given how much of an investment buying a car is, the stakes are pretty high as well. So what are the few things that we ought to keep in mind before we get a feel of the car we wish to buy and go in for a test drive?

Do Your Own Research

Just about every car available in the market out there has its features, specifications and even user reviews listed online. Go through websites of different automotive companies, as well as those of online marketplaces, look at the options available, of the colours, of the infotainment features or even the drivetrain of your preference. It always helps to have a clear idea of what exactly you’re looking for in a car. Do read the user reviews as well; they might help you identify some of the issues to look out for while test-driving the car.

Book an appointment

Dealerships, given the crunch of space, do not always have all the models of cars parked in their inventory; often just their best selling ones. And even these are double or triple parked in order to make space. The rest of them are kept in overflow lots which might be at some distance from the dealership. Even if the car of your choice is available at the dealership, there’s a chance that the battery might need charging or the car might need a good wash and waxing in order to make it even more appealing to the customer. Make sure you call at the dealership and book an appointment so that they can have the car ready and running for you by the time you arrive.

Things to look out for

Once you’re inside the car, most of the feel comes just from intuition. By the time you’ve taken a drive, you’re already halfway there in deciding whether you’d like to buy the car or not. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. The colours can vary in the daytime and under the street lights, so try to view the car under both conditions. Check if the cargo space caters to your requirements and when inside, try seating yourself in the passenger seats as well, so as to get a feel of how roomy the car is.

Once at the wheel, check for comfort and visibility, especially since a poor design of the A-pillar could lead to blind spots while turning. While driving, pay close attention to the acceleration and the shift, the braking and the steering responses, as well as the noise cancellation inside the cabin. Fiddle with the tech inside the car, so as to know how intuitive and responsive the controls and the features are, including the navigation and connectivity. You could also check the parking controls and cameras, if provided in the vehicle. As for the drive, make sure you understand how well the car operates in traffic, as well as on a slope, since they’ll give you a better understanding of the car’s driveability.

After the drive, do not rush in to buy, even though the sales person might insist on you doing so. Sleeping over it helps you get better perspective regarding your choice. If there are other cars that you’re planning to try out, we’d suggest that you try them in succession, since you’ll be able to compare better if the drives are still fresh in your memory.

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