How old do you have to be to test drive a car?

woman test driving a car with accompany of the salesman

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Ah, the feeling of freedom! The privilege of driving your own car! And how nice it feels to be traveling on your own, on the road, in your own car!

Easier said than done. Before you enjoy that fantastic feeling, do the paperwork first! Make your drive on the roads legal!

Once that done, you ask yourself, how old do you have to be to test drive a car? –In the USA, the minimum age to drive is 16 in some states, but other states have this requirement that you have to be at least 18.

Can you test drive a car with a learner’s permit?

No, with your learner’s or student permit on hand, the most you can do is borrow the car of your dad, older brother, older relative, or older friend with them beside you as you drive.

You can get a learner’s permit at just 14 years of age in the following states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, and Alaska. So if you’re in a hurry to get behind the wheel, go over to these states!

Most dealerships of cars will require that you are 18 old before you can test drive their cars. You are considered a responsive adult who can handle the car without supervision when you are out on the road.

But still, most dealerships require their salesman to accompany you on your test drive.

What information you have to provide in order to schedule a test drive for a car?

Again requirements for a test drive vary by the dealership and by state, but usually, you’ll just need your valid driver’s license when you take out your fancied car for a spin.

You shouldn’t be embarrassed not to purchase the car after taking a test drive. A test drive is by no means an obligation on your part to buy that car.

Can I go into a dealership and just go for a test drive with no intention to buy?

Actually, it’s not against the law. You’re just wasting the time of the salesperson entertaining your concerns and your test drive.

Here is a person trying to make an honest living and you’re stealing his time. It’s a question of ethics. Test drive a car owned by a friend instead so that you will not be dealing with anyone a bad deal.

Do car dealers run a credit check before a test drive?

Some dealerships do. Some run a credit inspection before they’ll reveal the car/truck. This gives them an idea of what your capability to buy is.

If you’re taking a look at a $40,000.00 car/vehicle and have no or poor credit, your possibilities of being approved are slim.

They might likewise ask what amount of money you have readily available for down payment. I personally believe operating credit inspects and asking those questions is bad business.

It immediately makes the client seem like they are being evaluated prematurely.

Tips on what questions to ask before starting and during the test drive

Let the salesperson demonstrate the car’s features and capabilities before the test drive, and even during the test drive. Because for sure, your questions will be in a downpour when you’re driving the car.

Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions because it’s your privilege to know the car better before getting it as your own. Quietly, observe the following things before entering the car:

  1. Is it easy to get into the car (consider your body structure)?
  2. Is there a possibility that you’ll bump your head before entering?
  3. Do you need your body to have some sort of flexibility and maneuverability to be able to climb in?

Imagine, you’ll be doing this every single day. If it’s hell for you just to get in, that’s a warning signal.

Adjust the seat

Try all the different seat adjustments and finalize the one position that is best suited for you while driving.

If you can’t find comfort in your seating position, don’t imagine driving for hours being tortured in your seat! Ask yourself also the following questions:

  1. Can the seat be adjusted so that you will have clear visibility when looking over the steering wheel?
  2. Do you have adequate headroom? Does the seat offer enough lower back and lumbar support?

About the mirrors

Is it easy for you to adjust the side mirrors? Take note of your blind spots for your own safety. It’s best if the car has a blind spot detection system working to your advantage.

Know where the controls are located

The turn signals, the headlight controls, the windshield wipers, the defogger. Be familiar with them and determine if you are comfortable with their layout. It also matters if you are left or right-handed.

Overall, are you comfortable?

Important factors during the test drive

  • How does the ride feel? Is the steering easy because a heavy type of steering could create trouble for you when you drive inside the city a lot?
  • Check for smoothness. Test the car over railroad tracks or a potholed road to get a clear idea of how the car handles these tricky situations.
  • Take note of the reactivity of the brakes. Does the car stop quickly or is there a long lull between you stepping on the brakes and the car actually stopping? Are the brakes hard grabbers and make stops that give you and your passengers an abrupt feel?
  • Regarding the gear system and the transmission, if the car you’re considering has a manual transmission, is the clutch light to your foot? Are the gears easy to shift? Can you discern distinctly between first and third gear because this is a common problem of the manual transmission?
  • When it’s an automatic transmission vehicle, observe how it upshifts and downshifts on hilly terrain.
  • Visibility is important. Make sure that you can see properly in all directions. There are some cars that have designs around the car which impede visibility. If you can live with them, and still have that confidence that these blockages are minimal, would you still purchase the car?
  • Is the car easy to maneuver through tight spots, curves, and tight turns?
  • Does it accelerate well enough when you try to overtake other vehicles?
  • Is it easy to park? Try parking it in different places. Take note of the ease that it accomplishes when you’re doing parallel parking. When parking, does the front end sit low that it scrapes the parking curbs?
  • Take note of the cabin noise. Put off the music inside the car. Does it block away from the external noise effectively? And can you hear the quiet hum of the engine from the inside? Do you need to raise your voice to carry on a conversation inside the car?
  • The climate control system. When it’s summer, is the air-conditioning cool enough after several minutes? If it’s winter, does the heater do its job of keeping you and your passengers warm? Are the controls easy to use?
  • Electronic features. Does it have special amenities such as a backing detection system, a navigation panel, or a rearview camera?

Get to know them all, and don’t hesitate to ask the salesperson.

Do you find them useful?

Tips to avoid cunning salespeople who would do anything to make a sale:

When you visit car showrooms, take not only one, but two or even three test drives on different car variants.

Don’t be pressured on buying the first car that you test drive because it might not be the best for you. Remember that the car you will choose will stick around for a couple of years with you. So it better be good and worth your money.

Never be sucked in by freebie offers or other ploys by salespeople just so you make a premature decision to purchase right away.

Bring copies of your driver’s license and insurance proof

It’s almost sure that the salespeople will ask to check these documents before they allow you to take their vehicles for a test run. But they don’t need to be in physical possession of your original documents, just the copies.

This is important because they might do the ploy of saying they misplaced your original documents and they will use the extra time to hard-sell you into buying the car you just drove to test.

With only the photocopies in hand with them, you can leave the showroom anytime after the test drive.

Do not agree to a trade-in, as of now

When you express your enthusiasm for a specific car, expect the salesperson to make a pitch for a trade-in with your old vehicle.

At this point, tell him that you have not made your decision yet or that the old car you were meaning to trade-in is in your garage, not the one you brought in.

If you’re too honest, they will be already checking out your old car and they will offer you an evaluation after you finished your test drive. This will make you more confused and you will lose focus on the features of the car you are doing a test drive in.

Take your time in deciding what car to buy

Take as many test drives as you can. Tilt the balance in your favor.

Try requesting if you can do the test drive on your own, without the salesperson

The more aggressive salespeople will allow you and sometimes will even permit you to keep the car for overnight evaluation.

If the salesperson insists on being at your side during the test drive, let them make you drive the car on different road conditions – smooth, asphalt, cement, with potholes, and those which are purely rocky roads.

It’s not ok not to test drive a car before buying it!

What happens if you crash or get involved in an accident, you need car insurance for a test drive?

Don’t worry about it because car dealerships carry fleet insurance on all the vehicles under their care. The fleet insurance will cover all the damages incurred during the test drive, even if it was your fault.

But it doesn’t mean you can be reckless when you do the test drive. The mere fact that you were issued a driver’s license is that the government trusts you enough to be a reliable driver on the streets, enough to issue you that license.

Being a licensed driver incurs a lot of responsibility on your part.

What if you’re in the middle of a student driving course, and then you crashed the car? Before you are allowed to take a student driving course, you will be required to purchase insurance as protection against any unforeseen accidents on the road.

If the accident does happen while you are being taught the basics of driving a car, the driving school could then claim for damages with the student’s insurance.

What happens if you’re just 17 years old or under, but you have money, and you really want to buy a car?

No problem, it’s your money, buy that car, but technically, because you’re a minor, you can’t own property and that includes cars.

The car dealership will request that one of your parents or a guardian will sign on your behalf for the paperwork involved.

Only when you turn 18 will the car be legally in your name.

Can I buy a car at age 18 with no credit history?

There are car financing companies who will take a chance on you. But many of them would require a co-guarantor like your parents before they would approve the loan.

The decent thing to do is to get a job. Chances are, after a few months, with proper documentation of your source of livelihood, you will have no problem getting approved with your car financing.

Then, take the effort to improve your credit rating by paying your monthly amortization on time.

Do exotic car dealerships provide their cars for a test drive in the USA?

If you’re going to walk indirectly into a Lamborghini or a Ferrari car dealership and would ask for a test drive, it would be most likely that you will not be granted the privilege of test driving their exotic cars.

As a matter of courtesy, they will ask you questions to size you up and to verify your identity. If you have not been invited to test drive their cars, it is most likely that you are not the customer they are looking for.

They already have a database on who their potential clientele are, and they know whom to expect because it is a very small quantity of people that they expect to test drive and eventually buy their luxury cars.

In other words, it’s by invitation only. Unless you suddenly won the lottery and no one can stop you from buying your dream car, spot cash.

The salesperson, after eventually knowing who you are (and nothing miraculous like the lottery win happened to you), would politely ask you to leave the premises of the car dealership.

UK operators who let you drive exotic cars

Do you know that in the UK, you can fulfill your dream of driving a Lamborghini at age 18? -Yes, that’s true.

But it’s not as a test drive or as a student driver’s lesson. It’s actually a business operated by some entrepreneurs in the UK to fulfill the dreams of people to be able to drive exotic cars!

First, you will be required to attend a short instructional course.

Then, you will be heading out to the track to join a select few in the world who can boast that they have driven the world’s best cars.

But first, be authenticated that you are 18 and have a valid driver’s license.

This is not a fantasy anymore. This is real life! You can even get to choose your favorite exotic cars from the lineup.

They include the Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4, Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 570S, Porsche 911 GT3, Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Nissan GT-R, Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody, and 2020 Corvette Stingray.

Drive them on a real racetrack and do not be dictated by a speed limit. Feel the adrenaline experienced by professional race drivers.

There is even a Lamborghini driving camp designed specifically for driving enthusiast kids aged between 11 to 17 years old. Of course, with no driving license required.

It is the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera Blast which has around 15 venues around the UK.

Kids get to enjoy 3 mile driving experiences and get to fulfill their motoring fantasies.

Final verdict

Picture this. You’re a newly licensed driver and you’re choosing your new car wisely. Use this practical guide that I’ve provided for you and you will be on your way to enjoying your life on the road safely and comfortably.

If you found this guide to be useful, please share it! Spread the information so more newly licensed drives just like you will get themselves prepared for their first-ever test drive!


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