LOS ANGELES, November 28, 2015 — You need a new or used car, but perhaps not right away and you really got an itch to drive that new ride, right? How do you safely go about getting test drives in non-embarrassing fashion?
Like a hot date, it can take time to get to know your future vehicle. Most car buyers feel like they need to check out more than one 10-minute road test to decide whether or not they are going to make a purchase that could cost more than their annual salary.
So, here’s some tips on ways to get maximum seat time without the worry nor the guilt.
“For new cars, it’s always worth the time to visit either the main strip or auto mall in your area. That way, if you manage your time well, you can test drive a variety of brands at the same time,” says Steven Lang, who is a regular Yahoo! Autos contributor when it comes to buying and selling used cars.
In addition, short road tests sponsored by automakers are becoming the norm rather than the exception. In days gone by, car buyers (or lookiloos) pretty much had one choice: visit a local dealership. However, car companies have found that giving consumers short drives at large events such as auto shows, conventions and even concerts is not only cost effective, but allows people a chance to try out several different vehicles and can lead to a sale even years down the road.
“Another alternative is to attend an auto show where they offer free test drives. Here in Atlanta, a variety of automakers will offer a nice loop of real-world driving that involves city, highway and suburban driving,” says Lang.
The LA Auto Show for example, which this year ran from Nov. 20-29, had around 14 car brands with a total of about 80 different vehicles for the public to test at last year’s show.
“Ride and drives are a pressure-free way to cross shop,” says the LA Auto Show’s senior director of marketing and communications Brendan Flynn. “More and more, consumers are able to get behind the wheel and drive on real city streets, especially at the LA Auto Show because of the good weather.”
In fact, a recent study by the association Auto Shows of North America, determined that attending a local auto show influenced more than half of vehicle purchases just days and weeks after the show.
What about used cars? Not only would you annoy private sellers by calling them and taking their time to set up a test drive, but it could even be dangerous. And it could certainly be awkward. What if you show up to some creepy house and some nervous retiree won’t let you drive his beloved Buick Regal around the block by yourself?
“If you’re looking at used cars, go ahead and look up the vehicles you want to drive online,” says Lang. “Most used car superstores, such as Carmax, will let you test drive several vehicles without any hassle.”
Still don’t feel like you can get enough seat time to thoroughly test a new or used car? Rent the vehicle you are considering or dreaming about for a day or two or even a week.
Remember, when it comes to test drives, each dealership has different “rules” so expect just about anything. Some dealers won’t let you drive more than five miles and others may extend your “loan” overnight.
It’s best to ask up front about all the parameters related to any test drive. And don’t forget your driver’s license.