How to Test Drive a Car: 6 Things to Look For

February 25th, 2020 by

You’ve done your research and are considering purchasing an Alfa Romeo. Congratulations on making the first step! 

But what comes next? One of the best parts of purchasing an Alfa is the test drive. It’s your chance to see how the vehicle performs, how comfortable you are driving it, and how it suits your driving style and daily life. 

Whether you’re looking at a new Alfa or a used Alfa, each car will have its own personality. That’s why it’s so important to drive it before you buy it.

What to Look For in a Test Drive

Even different models within the same brand may feel different to different drivers. This guide will tell you what to look for and what features to focus on during the actual test drive of the vehicle. 

Ride Comfort

If possible, see if you can drive the car on a less than perfect stretch of road. If there are cracks in the pavement, does the car jostle you around or are you unaware of the various road conditions? Cars with a soft suspension may traverse small holes and ruts smoothly but bump hard on deeper ones. 

Sports cars typically have a stiffer ride, a sacrifice for better handling.  It’s important that your car doesn’t feel too busy, with the body of the car constantly making jittery up-and-down or side-to-side motions. The most comfortable ride will swallow the pavement flaws without transferring them to the car’s occupants.


Your Alfa sales expert should find a safe area to test the car’s acceleration. A car almost red-lining while accelerating to highway speeds or struggling on hills may indicate insufficient power. Pay attention to the way the transmission shifts and whether it’s smooth or abrupt. Even the most powerful engine can feel like a let-down if its transmission is lackluster. 


While a new car will have incredibly responsive brakes, it’s still important to notice and observe how they feel. Are the brakes too touchy? Can you brake to a stop smoothly or does it jerk to a stop? If you’re going to brake hard on your test drive, be sure to warn your salesperson and any passengers you may have in the car with you. Still, you are entitled to brake hard.

Steering and Handling

When you drive the car, the steering should be easy. It should not feel too tight or so loose that it feels uncontrollable. As you drive, take note of the responsiveness between your steering maneuvers and the way the car responds. A car should feel cohesive and in sync as you move along your route. 

Interior Sound

While you are on the test drive, be sure to check out the vehicle’s sound system. Make sure you love listening to music or the radio while on your daily drive. While the sound system of a car can be important to some drivers, it’s also important to turn off the radio, close the windows, and listen to what’s happening inside the car. Is the engine too loud? Do you hear too much wind noise? Sometimes tires can be a source of noise. Make sure that you can tolerate the sounds the car makes naturally, as a car will only get louder with age. 


How well you see the road and the cars around you are important for your safety. Be sure to look in the rearview mirror and side mirrors when you test drive or are parking. You want to make sure that you don’t have to bring your seat too close to the steering wheel just to see over the front of the car. If you find that you enjoy your day-time test drive, see if it is possible to test drive the car at night. The visibility may be different after dark. You want to be sure that the headlights perform well and check out any switches, gauges, and controls that are lighted for night driving. 

After the Test Drive

With your test drive complete, be sure to walk around the car and check for any blemishes. You’ll also want to open and close the doors and trunk to make sure that they close easily. If you have passengers with you who will be joining you in the car frequently, be sure to ask them about how comfortable the passenger seats are. As drivers, it can be so easy to forget that a car that’s comfortable to us may be unbearable to our passengers. 

If you’ve decided that the car you drove is the car you love, congratulations! You’re ready to move forward with your salesperson. If there was something about your test drive that you didn’t like, be sure to let us know. We can recommend a different model that keeps all your favorite features but forgoes the features you don’t like as much. 

Ready to hop into an Alfa Romeo or two? Reach out to us at 858-240-1370 or give us an idea of what you’re looking for on our online form and we’ll reach out to you!



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