Test drives are a vital part of the car selling process, and possibly one of the least popular. It’s no surprise – handing your car keys over to a complete stranger is nerve-wracking. What steps should you take to ensure you stay safe and have a successful test drive?
Planning the Test Drive
This is where you lay the groundwork to ensure the test drive runs smoothly and a positive experience is shared by everyone (with hopefully a sale at the end of it!):
- Check your auto insurance policy. Most allow another driver to drive your vehicle, but it’s sensible to check this is permitted as part of your terms.
- Remove all valuables from the car.
- Plan a short route that lets prospective buyers get a ‘feel’ for the car. Select a course that lets the buyer experience different levels of traffic, types of roads and driving surfaces.
- Bring a friend on the test drive.
- If it’s not possible to bring a friend, let family and friends know where you’re going and when you should be home.
- Organize to meet the buyer in a well-lit, busy public place during the day. The test drive should start and finish here. Never meet outside your house or office.
- Ensure the driver understands they will be accompanied during the test drive.
- If you feel uneasy as a result of the prospective buyer’s demeanor while you are planning the test drive, end the conversation and do not meet them.
- Be honest about any issues relating to the vehicle – buyers can be annoyed if they travel a long distance to test drive the car and find that your description wasn’t honest.
Just Before the Test Drive Starts
So the prospective buyer has arrived and you have exchanged pleasantries. But before you get into the car and commence the test drive, these tips will ensure your safety:
- Using your smartphone, take a photo of the buyer’s driver’s license. Be sure to send it to the friend or family member who is aware of your test drive plans.
- Inform the driver of the test drive route and the length this will take.
- We don’t recommend this, but if you’re allowing the prospective driver to take a solo test drive, make sure they understand when you expect your car to be returned.
- Don’t accept the keys to the potential buyer’s car as security. The car they have driven to the designated meeting spot could turn out to be a stolen vehicle.
During the Test Drive
This is your opportunity to highlight everything that’s great about your car. But, there are also some points to remember that will help you stay safe:
- By all means, make small talk, but don’t share too much information about yourself.
- If the driver deviates from the test drive route, inform them that this was not the agreed plan. Emphasize that family and friends have a copy of their driver’s license and have been informed of your arrangements.
- At the end of the drive, don’t get out of the car before the keys are in your hands. A common scam is for the driver to ask you to check whether a tire is flat, then before you know it your car is speeding off.
Closing the Deal after the Test Drive
The prospective buyer might tell you they’ll be in contact, or they might inform you as soon as the test drive has finished that they’re interested in buying your car. Before you celebrate, there are important considerations to take in terms of your safety:
- Do not engage if the buyer’s negotiation verges on aggression or intimidation. Tell them calmly that you have an appointment and will leave them with some time to consider your asking price. There are always more buyers – there’s no need to stay in a situation that makes you uncomfortable!
- If the buyer cuts you a check, keep their contact and driver’s license details safe until the check clears.
- If you are happy to accept payment in installments, do not part with your car until you have received the final payment.
- Do not agree to give anyone ‘first refusal’ on your vehicle, or to cease advertising it. The car should remain for sale and actively marketed until you have received payment from a buyer.
Test Drives and Car Selling, TRED Style
We’re with you every step of the way when you decide to sell through TRED. We screen all buyers in advance so you can be sure that they’re truly interested and able to buy your vehicle. After the test drive, there’s no need to conduct negotiations face to face – this is done online on the TRED dashboard.
If you’re keen to sell your car in the safest way possible – and who isn’t? – TRED is the best way to make it happen.