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What should I require from prospective buyers before approving a test drive?

Before allowing a test drive, you may want to make sure the buyer is serious about buying the vehicle you are selling. Generally, a serious buyer will be willing to provide the information you require.

You might want to make sure a prospective buyer has a valid driver's license and insurance coverage. If you are concerned about an individual buyer, you may want to require that they provide a DMV record of their driving history. You may also ask for a cash deposit, or some other form of collateral like their car keys, before you allow them to take that test drive.

Should I go on the test drive?

There is no clear answer on what is best. If you are a good salesperson and have a friendly rapport with the buyer, then going along for the ride might be a good idea. Typically, buyers do not want the seller to join them. If you ask, a prospective buyer may let you know what they would prefer. Some buyers may want you to join them so they can learn about the vehicle's features during the test drive.

If you are worried they might crash your car or steal it, being in the car may not be where you want to be.

What preparations should I make before scheduling a test drive?

Your insurance policy may cover test drives. It is smart to check in with your insurance carrier to see if they are covered. You may also want to increase your coverage limits temporarily.

Driving any vehicle can be dangerous. Even if a prospective buyer is careful, accidents can still happen. In the end, confirming you have enough insurance coverage for anyone who test drives your car can provide some peace of mind.

Before scheduling a test drive, it is a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in good working order and clean. To make your car feel more inviting to a new driver, you might consider some of the following simple steps:

  • Clean out your personal belongings.
  • Wash the body and tires.
  • Vacuum the interior.
  • Wipe down the dash.
  • Add an air freshener.

You may want to prepare more than just your car. A prospect may be ready to buy immediately after the test drive. Having a Bill of Sale can help make sure you are ready to make the sale. States may have specific requirements for selling a car. Those requirements are often written on the backside of the state title document. If the instructions on your title document are unclear, or the process in your state is confusing, ask a lawyer for help.

Planning out a good test drive route that will allow you to show a prospective buyer what your car can do is another good idea. You may want to include a mix of city and highway driving.

It can also help to organize your maintenance records into a folder. Providing prospective buyers with the car's recent service history shows them that you took care of the car.

If you have not taken recent photos of your vehicle, it can be a good idea to do so before allowing a test drive. If something goes wrong, photos showing what the car looked like before the test drive can be helpful.

How do I ensure a safe and secure test drive of my vehicle?

When selling your car to someone you do not know, there are several steps you can take to stay safe.

  • Meet in a public place for the test drive.
  • Start the test drive in a parking lot and ride along until you feel comfortable with the person taking the car on their own.
  • Bring a friend with you.
  • Take a picture of the potential buyer and their driver's license.
  • Drive behind them in their car or a friend’s car.
  • If your vehicle has a manual transmission, confirm they know how to drive a stick.

How can you ensure they will come back from the test drive and not damage your car?

Unfortunately, part of the process of selling your car in a private sale involves the risk that something might happen during a test drive. Setting a time limit and having the buyer's mobile phone number can help minimize risk while selling your vehicle.

If you have questions about what to do before a test drive or selling your car, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


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