Auto test drivers evaluate every aspect of vehicle performance.
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Automotive test drivers assess vehicle performance for manufacturers, automotive magazines and independent vehicle test organizations. Test drivers who work for manufacturers evaluate the performance of every aspect of a vehicle and prepare reports that help engineers fine-tune their designs or identify problems before production begins. Independent test organizations and automotive magazines employ test drivers to assess factors such as safety, handling or fuel economy as a basis for reports to consumers.
Although no formal qualifications exist for this job, an understanding of vehicle systems and technology is important. Test drivers must understand how every component works so that they can assess its level and quality of performance. A bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a vocational qualification in auto engineering provides essential vehicle knowledge. Experience as a mechanic also builds understanding of vehicle systems
Test drivers must have good driving skills to handle vehicles safely under demanding conditions. To test factors such as steering, braking and handling, they must be able to drive at high speeds and carry out tests on twisting circuits that push vehicles to the limit. Testing off-road SUVs, for example, requires skills in climbing and descending steep hill circuits or driving in icy or extremely muddy conditions. Drivers who test high-performance sports cars must be able to drive safely at high speeds. Experience in autosports provides good preparation for test driving.