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Test Driving Tips

When buying a car privately or from a registered dealer, consumers have to learn to protect themselves; and one of the key steps is taking a thorough test drive – not just around the block!

To get the most out of a test drive OMVIC suggests consumers follow these tips:

Partner up

If possible, bring a friend or family member; they may notice something you don’t.
Note: for security reasons, if going alone let someone know the details of your meeting (especially when purchasing privately) and take a cell phone.

Make sure it’s a good fit

Before taking the car out for a test drive, make sure it’s a good fit. Adjust the seat and mirrors. Can you reach the steering wheel and pedals? And sit in the back seat – how’s the fit there?


Daylight Driving Test Test drive during the day. It’s much easier to pick up scratches, dents, paint imperfections, possible body work. Also consider the time of day for the test drive; an 8 am test drive may seem like a good idea but depending on where you live – getting up to highway speeds may be difficult in rush hour traffic.

Put the 'test' in test drive

Don’t hesitate to take the vehicle on the highway; you need to see how it handles regular highway speeds. Does it accelerate smoothly? Is the steering crisp or does it wander? Pay attention to how the transmission shifts at different speeds. Find a safe/quiet location and test the brakes – are they firm or does the pedal sink to the firewall? Do they pull to one side? How does the suspension handle road imperfections?

Test all features

Test driving isn’t only about the actual drive but making sure all accessories and equipment function properly. This includes air conditioning and heat, radio, blue tooth, power windows and locks; it’s also a good time to ask how many remotes (for locks/starter) the seller has – they can be pricey to replace.