We had a caller to the Car Pro Radio Show this past weekend who said his wife was wanting a new Jeep Wrangler. I asked, as I always do, if she had owned one before, and what her current vehicle was. She had a Jeep, but it was not a Wrangler. This always raises red flags with me. Personally, I like Wranglers, but it is not a vehicle I would want as a daily driver, and my experience tells me that they are not for everyone, but those who love them, REALLY love them.
I suggested that they rent one for a weekend and it might be the best $150-$200 they could possibly spend. After a weekend, the caller’s wife would know if it was the right vehicle for her and her family.
Although Wranglers are different and unique, it made me think that extended test drives would be good for everyone, unless they were buying essentially the same vehicle they currently own.
I don’t think it is necessary for every buyer to pay for a rental of his or her next car, but sometimes it makes sense. Auto sales have been hot for a number of years now, and when that happens, salespeople tend to take short cuts. Selling cars right now, is frankly easy, and sales people too often take the “easy” deals, and some people get lost in the shuffle and just leave.
Therefore, it is critical that you do not let a salesperson shortcut you on a test drive. You are about to invest your hard earned money in a vehicle, and like shoes, the car needs to be tried on.
I recommend a thirty-minute test drive minimum, under different conditions. I would drive at slow speeds, on back roads if possible, and for sure on the highway. That will give you a good sense of whether or not this is the car for you and your family.
However, a test drive that lasts longer than five to ten minutes is a bit out of the ordinary, and I highly recommend pre-planning for this. Although you have the upper-hand being a customer, most schedule their time with a sales consultant.
Obviously, if you choose to go through the Car Pro buying process, you can email or call my contact in advance through our website. If so, let them know you desire an extended test drive. If set up in advance, most dealerships will allow you to go alone for that half hour to an hour. You will need to let them make a copy of your driver’s license and provide proof of insurance.
You may want to consider trying to arrange in advance a long test drive with a salesperson in the vehicle. Often, it is uncomfortable driving a new vehicle by yourself, especially if you have not been in a new car in the last five years or so. Much has changed, and it is often more comfortable to have a knowledgeable person with you. They can explain the features and benefits of the car as you drive, and show you how everything operates.
Bottom line: don’t shortcut the test drive, it is the most important drive of your life. You need to know if the car you are driving is right for you. If someone tries to rush you through this part of the process, you are at the wrong dealership.