A practical evaluation of a vehicle before buying it.

When you want to take a car for a test drive, the dealer or used car salesman will probably ask for your driver's license and other paperwork; this is not only so that they have access to all your personal data (moohahaha!) but also for liability and theft purposes.

You will probably be given a route; if it leaves out an important kind of driving (highway, mountain, etc.), insist on driving in realistic conditions. The route has almost certainly been picked to avoid revealing problems like a three-mile turning radius, a problem with sudden braking, a shimmy at high speeds, etc.

Ask the salesdroid politely but firmly not to engage you in conversation. It's not only manipulative, it's also dangerous. Keep your eyes on the road and listen carefully for any signs of weird noises. A sudden fit of coughing from the salesdroid most certainly counts as a weird noise.

Most importantly: test drive several cars in the same day, to get a feel for how tight the steering is, how well the cars accelerate, and how much comfort they offer. Then, later on, ask to sit in the car for a full hour. Listen to the radio, make cell phone calls, eat breakfast, put on makeup, do whatever you usually do. At the end of the hour, notice whether you're still comfortable sitting in that car.

A few hours spent on a thorough test drive (and test sit) will save you many days of hassle later on.

We were in the car discussing light fixtures for a home we will never live in when the thought drifted by - this feels more like a date than a test drive. Back at the dealership a buddy of his suggested I take the car home for an extended test drive since I couldn't decide if I wanted the car enough to buy it. After my salesman left some of the guys he works with asked if I was coming out for drinks. The next time I saw him we went for another drive. During lunch he asked if I had decided which car I was going to buy. When I told him I wasn't sure he made sure I knew that the Honda I was considering was attractively priced.

The only people a salesman knows are current customers and future buyers. Still I'm listening to his voice noticing how many different colors I can pick out in his eyes. He was there to try and sell something. I had to remember that even though a deeper part of me wanted there to be something more. I like his friends and the people he works with. Based on the way they refused to let me pay for anything when we went out I think they like me however I know that we have no future together. Driving is a calculated risk. Millions of people die in auto accidents every day. I took my car keys from his outstretched hand thinking a seven minute test drive can be more dangerous than the roads that will eventually take me home.

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