Buying a car is more than just a financial investment. It’s about finding the perfect partner for countless road trips and daily commutes. One crucial step in this quest is the test drive. A test drive provides a hands-on opportunity to assess the vehicle’s performance, including its acceleration smoothness, brake sharpness, cornering competence, and much more.
If you’re buying your first wheelchair van, this simple step might seem like a daunting proposition. To make the process easier, we’ll explain what to expect during a test drive with Clock Mobility, from examining a vehicle’s features to taking the wheel and every pit stop in between.
What to Look for When Test Driving a Car
Before you hop into the vehicle and take it out for a spin, it’s important to check it thoroughly. Below is a detailed checklist to keep in mind while test-driving wheelchair vans:
Examine the Exterior
When walking around the vehicle, there are several things you should look for:
General Body Condition
Do a complete inspection of the body, making sure to look for things like rust, nicks, damage, or repair work. Make sure the doors, trunk, and hood open and close smoothly.
Inspect the tires’ condition, looking for uneven wear or inflation, which might indicate a problem with the vehicle’s alignment or suspension.
Under the Hood
Although you should always have a mechanic inspect a vehicle before you purchase it, you can check under the hood for some issues yourself, including visible signs of neglect or issues with the oil dipstick, broken or worn-out belts, or corrosion on the battery.
Inspect the Interior
Once you step inside the vehicle, keep the following in mind areas:
Comfort and Ergonomics
Evaluate the seating posture, comfort, and adjustability. Can you maintain a comfortable and safe driving position for extended periods? Is there enough legroom? Also, check the visibility from the driver’s seat: Can you see the road ahead, to the side, and behind without straining?
For wheelchair users, examine the ease of transferring from the wheelchair to the driver or passenger seat. Clock Mobility offers a Turny Evo Swivel seat lift that can make it even easier to get in and out of a vehicle directly from a wheelchair or scooter.
Check the sizes of cup holders, glove compartments, and storage cubbies. They should be conveniently located and large enough for your needs.
Technology and Features
Explore the car’s technology and features like the navigation system, sound system, air conditioning, parking technology, or driver-assistance features like blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
Assess the quality of the car’s safety systems like the airbags, anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), and more.
Both the infotainment and climate control systems should be intuitive and responsive and should be easily adjustable without taking too much attention off the road.
Controls and Dashboard
All controls should be easy to reach and operate. Check to make sure all the lights on the dashboard turn on when you start the car and that no warning lights are on.
The cargo space varies from vehicle to vehicle. Measure the cargo space’s dimensions to ensure it will easily accommodate your typical cargo load.
If the tailgate or hatch door is difficult to reach or heavy to lift, it can make loading and unloading cumbersome. Many newer models offer powered tailgates, which can be helpful to some users.
For a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, it’s crucial to check the ease of entering and exiting and ensure the ramp and entry of the vehicle are wide and high enough to accommodate the dimensions of your unique mobility device.
The vehicle should also have an appropriate securing mechanism for a mobility device, such as the wheelchair tie-downs that come standard with most wheelchair vans.
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Performance and Handling
During your test drive, it’s important to assess the vehicle’s performance and handling under various conditions.
- First, check the powertrain, including the engine, transmission, driveshaft, and axles. Experiment with various speeds and different gears during your test drive to gauge the vehicle’s acceleration abilities.
- Automatic transmissions should shift gears without jerks or loud noises. For manual transmissions, changing gears should feel crisp, and the clutch should engage smoothly without needing excessive force.
- Pay attention to the noise levels while driving, accounting for both external road noise and internal mechanical noise.
- Test the brakes in safe conditions. The vehicle should come to a stop smoothly, without any unusual noises or vibrations. Brake pedals should feel firm and not spongy under your foot.
- Don’t settle for a quick jaunt on an ultra-smooth road. Instead, drive on different types of roads like city streets, hills, highways, and unpaved roads to check the suspension system. A car with a good suspension system will remain stable over uneven roads and settle quickly after hitting bumps or abruptly changing direction.
- During the drive, pay attention to the car’s steering. It should respond accurately to your input and offer a good amount of feedback.
How Long Can You Test Drive a Car
The duration of a test drive can vary depending on several factors, including dealership policy and the make and model of the car.
Most dealerships will allow test drives that last between 15 to 30 minutes on average. At Clock Mobility, however, we understand that a wheelchair-accessible vehicle is a massive investment that must be carefully planned for. Our team is happy to assist you in taking the time you need to get a feel for each car you drive and compare it with different models on our lots.
What Do I Need To Test Drive a Vehicle
Typically, you’ll need the following items to test drive a car:
Valid Driver’s License
A valid driver’s license is necessary to prove that you’re legally allowed to operate a vehicle. Most dealerships will make a copy of your license for their records, or you can bring a photocopy with you before you arrive.
Proof of Insurance
While not always a requirement, some dealerships may ask for proof of insurance—either a physical copy or digital version—before allowing you to take a vehicle for a test drive. This helps protect both you and the dealership in case of an accident or damage to the vehicle during the test drive.
Bring Your Game Face
When visiting the dealership, have a focused and determined attitude. Be polite but assertive in your intentions about the test drive to make this opportunity as efficient as possible.
Schedule a Test Drive with Clock Mobility
At Clock Mobility, we understand mobility solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all, so we’re here to help you find the ride that suits you just right. If you’re interested in getting a firsthand experience of our vehicles’ performance and comfort, we recommend scheduling a test drive with us.
Our team is more than happy to offer individualized attention, demonstrate all the vehicle features, and address any concerns or inquiries you may have. To schedule your test drive, call us at (866) 380-3326 or visit one of our 4 locations in Michigan to check out our selection of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.