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Down At The Showroom: Buying A New Car


As you make your rounds at car showrooms, don't be too caught up by flashy paint jobs and free gifts. Take your time and pay attention to small details. If you have other drivers in the family, bring them along as they could spot things you may miss. Form a mental checklist to help you in the quest for a new set of wheels:

Is It Visually Appealing?

View the car from all sides. You may love the front, but hate the back. Check the exterior finishing and quality of the paintwork, alignment of the different parts of the car body, head lights, brake light, boot, etc.

Is The Size Right?

Vehicles are categorised as sedans, hatchbacks, compacts or MPVs and come in different shapes and sizes. Choose one that fits your lifestyle and transport needs. If you carry elderly or disabled passengers regularly, check for ease of entering and getting out of the car. Consider the amount of space you'll need if you're installing a chip seat or two. Taller drivers should check if there is ample headroom and legroom and if the seat is big enough to accommodate them.

Is Everything Within Reach?

Reach out for all the controls and knobs while in the driver's seat. Are the controls for air conditioning, hazard lights, radio. glove compartment, windows, side mirrors, wipers, and headlights positioned within easy reach? Can you control them while keeping your eye on the road? Are there adequate compartments and trays in the car to hold coins, drinks, cards and other knick-knacks?

What Is The Interior Quality?

Do the seats feel comfortable and give adequate back support? Imagine how your bottom and back will feel after a long drive. Check the finishing of the upholstery or leather seats, knobs and controls, door handles, locks, mirrors. What is the quality of the workmanship? Do the seats feel or sturdy? Are they easy to clean and maintain?

Is The Boot Big Enough?

Think of all the items you may need to store in the boot. If you have a young family, can the boot take in a week's worth of grocery shopping, stroller, bicycles and other items? If you are an avid golfer, how much room is left after the golf bag goes in?

Driving Test: Take To The Road

After checking out the cars in the showroom, it's time to take them for a spin. Don't get too excited about testing a new car to forget to judge its performance, or worse, throw road safety out of the window with Grand Prix manoeuvres. Bear these things in mind during your test drive.

The Right One

Test out the model you intend to buy. You cannot gauge the performance of a car with a lower engine capacity by driving the higher-capacity model and then discounting the performance. Manual and automatic versions of the same car may also perform differently.

Performance

Try the car on all sorts of road conditions if you can. Some companies have fixed routes for test drives chosen for their low traffic conditions and easy navigation. In any case, you should take note of the car's performance on normal surfaces, bumpy, winding roads and on slopes. Notice how the car responds to road humps, cornering and braking.

Different Loads

Drive with and without rear passengers to compare how the car handles different loads. Can the car cope with four passengers instead of just two?

Transmission

Check out the transfer between the clutch and accelerator if you are driving a manual car. Is the gear shaft easy to handle? Are gear changes smooth? Observe the upshifts and downshifts if you are driving an automatic car. Do the gears change at appropriate times? Is there a noticeable jerk or sound during gear shifts?

Handling

if you can, try swerving and making sharp U-turns. Is there understeer or oversteer? Does the car feel stable at higher speeds? Does the steering wheel align with the wheels?

Braking

Brake in a normal, gentle manner and in a sudden, forceful manner. When executing an emergency brake, check out the effectiveness of the seat belts.

Noise

Listen out for engine noise and exterior noise as you drive. Is the engine quiet? Some cars come with acoustic treatments to block out external sound. Are you still able to hear another car sounding its horn?

 

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