When you're test driving a vehicle in advance of potentially buying it, there are a number of different things to evaluate. While you'll want to assess the vehicle's comfort, blind spots, and overall features, you'll also want to devote ample time to checking how it performs. One factor that you'll definitely want to notice is how the vehicle brakes. Braking can vary from one vehicle to another and not just based on brake health. Heavier cars may take longer to slow to a stop than lighter cars, for example. Here are three ways that you can test a vehicle's braking ability during your test drive.
Ideally, you won't have to brake hard very often when you drive. However, you'll need to feel confident that your vehicle will respond when the need arises. Head out to a quiet road and get up to speed. Make sure to let the salesperson traveling with you know that you intend to brake suddenly so that he or she can get ready. When there are no other vehicles near you, step on the brakes hard. Doing so will allow you to assess how quickly the vehicle stops, how easy it is to control as it decelerates, and whether or not it veers to either side during the braking process.
If you commute to and from work in heavy traffic, you may do a lot of stop-and-go driving. If so, you'll want to see how the vehicle performs during this type of braking. Find a busy street near the dealership and get in a row of cars. As the cars move forward and then slow down, put pressure on the brake pedal as you normally would. You'll be able to notice a few things, such as whether the vehicle brakes slowly, how aggressively you need to push the pedal to stop in a desired length of time, and how much the car lurches as you slow down.
Occasionally, you'll find yourself driving around a corner quickly. Of course, you'll be braking as you go around the corner, so this is another important way to assess how the vehicle brakes. Find an area with a low concentration of traffic and turn the corner at your standard safe speed. With the brakes partially engaged, you'll be able to notice how quickly the vehicle slows down in this setting, as well as how easily you can turn around the corner under control.
When looking at new, used, or certified pre owned cars, make sure you take your test drive seriously.