Before the Test Drive: Interior Inspection (Part 3)

As in previous installments of our test drive series, offers top tips and tricks for test driving. Step one, before you drive, you’ll want to know what you can afford. Visit and use the site’s useful on-line tools for auto loans. You can also get pre-qualified for a car loan before visiting dealerships for test driving.

Step Inside

First, before you get in the vehicle, notice how easy it is to open and close all doors. Are they too heavy? Is there any squeaking? It’s also a good idea to get in and out of the vehicle from all possible areas – front, rear, and third-row seats if applicable. While in the back of the car, think of the comfort of your passengers. Check for adequate legroom, storage features, and controls. Are safety belts easily accessible?

Take a Seat

It’s important to spend adequate time sitting in the driver’s seat and inspecting the inside. How does the “cockpit” feel? You will spend a lot of time in your new vehicle; it should fit you properly. Test for comfort and function with all mirrors, steering wheel, and the safety belt in place.  Once comfortable, be sure all controls, gauges, and monitors – for climate, sound, etc. – are easily visible and accessible.

Next, assess the finish and overall quality of things such as the seats – their upholstery and how they move, the gear shift, console, glove box, visors, etc. Also check features that are important to you such as leg room, storage capacity, drink holders, charging connections, etc.

While sitting in the parked vehicle, it’s a good idea to check for blind spots before you start your test drive.

The Senses

Check the dash warning lights before driving. If you notice an indicator light is active – especially the check engine light – ask that it be reviewed and repaired before conducting your test drive. Now is an ideal time to try the climate control system – both warm and cold – and any interactive components like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. What’s the quality of the sound system? Evaluate the radio on multiple stations and be sure the system integrates well with your devices.

Check for rust under carpets and padding on floorboards and trunk or hatch. Be wary of a vehicle that has too much air freshener – are odors being hidden?

Next up, it’s time to drive! See part four of the test driving used cars series next week – It’s Time to Test Drive (Part 4).