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Tips for Test Driving a Car

There’s no substitute for getting out on the road and doing a test drive.  However, it can be challenging to test drive more than a 3 or 4 cars in a single day, especially since you can expect to spend a minimum of 1-2 hours at each dealership.  To help schedule your day, my unique Test Drive Planner will help you find different types of car dealerships with a single search and map between locations.

And keep reading below to find out what to expect at a dealership during a new car test drive and what you should say to salesmen to get away painlessly.

Use the Test Drive Planner to map the most efficient route between dealerships to schedule your entire day.  The planner eliminates the need for you to search for each type of car dealership separately!

Find out how much time to expect at each dealership and save notes about the different cars you drive right in your phone.  The best part is that it’s all free!  Click here or on the image below to get started.

new car test drive

What to expect at the dealership

When you first walk onto a car lot you will undoubtedly be approached by a salesman within the first 2 minutes no matter where you go.  From the moment you meet, everything they say and do will be intended to help close a deal with you.  They will ask you leading questions about how much you can afford for a monthly payment and try to get you to fall in love with a car on a test drive.  They will pull out all the stops to get you to buy a car before leaving the dealership.  But you must be strong and remember that it is not in your best interest to buy while you are there.  Resist the temptation to start negotiating price, you’ll get a much better deal if you get car prices online and negotiate from home.

After you’ve made contact with your salesman, feel free to ask any questions you have about their cars. And don’t be shy about asking for a test drive, they will be happy to oblige.  After you ask, the salesman will ask for a copy of your driver’s license and phone number.  They do this to make sure you can legally drive and so they can keep trying to sell to you after you leave!  They will conveniently suggest you leave any belongings in their office so you have a reason to come back after the drive.

Once they have your info., the salesman will grab a “dealer” license plate, walk you to the car, and screw on the plate while you adjust your seat and windows.  They will likely have a pre-planned route in mind (usually about 15 minutes) and they will direct you where to go.  If you want to try more than one model car at the dealership, don’t be afraid to ask for that either.

When you get back to the dealership, the salesman will have you come back to their office.  Here’s where the sales pitch starts getting stronger.  They will try to start talking numbers and in most cases their boss (the Sales Manager) will make an appearance to double-up on the pressure.

From start to finish, the whole process can easily take 2-3 hours if you let it.  But you don’t want to waste your time or theirs, so prepare by learning…

What to say to car salesman (how to test drive and get away politely)

Test driving can be daunting  knowing that you will likely have to face a pushy salesman. You’ll need to be prepared to get in and get out efficiently.  It’s good to plan what you are going to say in advance to make test driving as quick and painless as possible.
To start, be cordial, but tell your salesman right away that you are interested in test driving.  It’s also a good idea to tactfully let them know now that you only have a certain amount of time as well.

Example: “I’m trying to decide between the [Honda CR-V] and the [Toyota RAV-4] and would like to test drive each one today. I have a lot to fit in and I’d like to try to get over to the [Toyota] dealership by [3pm].”
They will also certainly ask if you are ready to buy today. Let them know you are serious, but remind them you have plans to test drive several vehicles from different dealers and you’d like to do a comparison first. Before you leave, you’ll be happy to get their business card so they can get the sales commission should you decide to buy from their dealership.
Example: “I’m planning to make a decision within one week, but I need to try out a few different vehicles first. After the test drive, you can give me your contact information so I can make sure you get the commission if I decide to buy a [Honda CR-V]..”
After the test drive they will try to get you to review some numbers in the showroom. There is no reason to negotiate at this point. Either gracefully tell them you need to get to the next dealership or just let them give you a quote and brochures. After you have received competitive quotes from other dealers, you’ll have the chance to call back the “test drive” salesman and give them a chance to beat your best offer.
Example: “I don’t want to waste your time negotiating today since I’m still evaluating several models. If you want to give me a price quote that would be fine, but I am not ready to make my decision until I take a few more test drives.”
Write down the make, model, trim, and color you want (or don’t want).  You can do take notes about a car directly in the Test Drive PlannerAfter a day of car shopping, it’s easy for everything to blend together, so take good notes so that you can get a good price on the correct package later.

Once you decide what kind of car you want read the

Ultimate New Car Buying Guide