How much can you learn on ashort spin around the neighborhood,where you may not evenmake it to a highway? To make surethat auto-buying test-drive isn'ttotally wasted, follow these tips.Once you're on the road, follow aroute that's close to the way youusually drive. When you acceleratefrom a dead stop, make sure thetransmission changes gears smoothly.If the acceleration is jerky orsluggish, look elsewhere. Try a panicstop—warn your passengers first. Ifthe car nosedives too much, take apass. Pay attention to the steering;you should be able to negotiate astraightaway without having tomake constant changes with thesteering wheel. Finally, avoid asalesperson who discourages youfrom test-driving a car.