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Test Drives & Dealership Promotions

Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,918
Here's the place to talk about your test driving experiences. Did a promotion bring you in the door? Did you plan on buying, or was it just the promotion?
Did the salesperson ride with you? Did this influence your purchasing decision?

Let's get started.

kirstie_h
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Comments

  • I recently spent a couple of weeks researching via the 'net my potential new car purchase purchase, followed by a couple of days visiting 4 lots to drive a few of the 2 makes/models to which I'd narrowed down my choice. This is in Dallas, TX. Two salespeople came along but did no driving, even to get off the lot, and 2 let me take the car by myself. Neither of the two who let me take the car "knew" me. One of those ended up providing a traditional hard-sell experience, so I ended up buying from the other one who let me take the car alone, gave me the best deal by far, AND made it a completely stress-free no-B.S. experience. Provided this make ends up being reasonably reliable, the dealership has earned a customer for life.
  • Subaru was offering a promotion offering a $25 gift card for driving a new Legacy or Outback. Stopped by to testdrive. My salesman gave me the keys to a Legacy GT that hadn't even been prepped yet. He didn't know I could drive a stick, but let me go anyway. Now THAT might not have been a great idea...good thing I remembered how to drive a manual. All the same, I'm more comfortable at that place than any other in town. Like Terry said, it must be a regional thing. Only a few places here are mandatory to have a salesman along, although most of them do prefer it.

    -Dan-
  • Ditto for my experience in Cincinnati. The dealerships that I deal with flip me the keys and tell me to be back before closing. Of course, we are talking used cars and generally the decision is pretty much made as long as the ride goes well.

    If a dealership makes it too much of a hassle, I will buy elsewhere.

    Of course, I usually rent cars and am very familiar with the model long before getting to the dealership.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,946
    Are the people who want to test drive cars thay have no intension whatever of buying!

    What a total waste of time for both parties!
  • mikefm58mikefm58 Posts: 2,882
    How can dealers get away with saying things like that? I actually heard that ad on the radio over lunch. Or the really low ball car prices, but then when you get there they say "we only had one and it was sold and we won't tell you who bought it".
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,918
    What you're talking about sounds more like a "trick" than what we're dealing with in this topic. We're talking about legitimate promotions to attract customers to the shop, like, $25 gift certificate to Bob's Bistro for taking a test drive - no bait-n-switch in here.

    If you're a shopper - what promotions sway you? For me, a clock radio wouldn't do it, but a gift certificate? If I'm shopping for a car anyway, it might bring me to your store first instead of a competitor's.

    kirstie_h
    Roving Host & Future Vehicles Host

    MODERATOR
    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
    Share your vehicle reviews

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,670
    Recently, the promotions I've gotten (mostly via email) have been for gift cards of one kind or another. It seems like the days of junky radios, $2.00 watches, and cheap umbrellas are behind us.

    I have had a couple of $25 ones from Mazda, same from Subaru, and the big daddy, $75 from Lincoln in the last year. ANd being a good consumer (and a member of CCBA) I dutifully use them all.

    And Isell, there is no car that I have "no intention" of buying, just cars that I haven't considered yet.

    Manufacturers send these out for a reason, and it is to generate showroom traffic, in the hopes of getting someone to put their car on the "hmmm, maybe" list when it wasn't there before. An occasional impulse buy doesn't hurt either.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    was from Hyundai, for a $25 gift card. We went in to the dealer we bought our Santa Fe from and they were happy to sign it for us without a test drive. No attitude either. While we went another direction on our new car that dealership is still on our "places we'd do business again" list.

    -Jason
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,946
    That you only wanted your card signed if they knew you weren't in the market!
  • from the other board...

    bowke, sorry to hear about your dealership's loss. i guess it depends on the dealer's insurer just exactly who gets to drive/ride in the car. i can understand a shop that doesn't want to get stung again. i don't expect to be let out the door without a salesman, but it is certainly a pleasant surprise to be trusted.

    drift, i haven't had any bad experiences actually, but yes, some bad cologne. i don't mind a salesman riding along at all, most are nice, especially the ones that are car nuts like me. in fact, i helped set up a good friend on a date with the Acura sales guy when we were TL shopping for her. I never asked if they "closed the deal" though...:)

    I respect you guys and enjoy your posts. thanks for responding.
  • I don't see anything that bad about the salesperson driving first. The sales person should be more qualified to show the car's capabilities since he should already be familiar with it. It's not wrong either for the prospective buyer to experience the car from the passenger's viewpoint before he gets to drive it.
    I think it can be a pretty scary thing for a salesperson to ride in a car with someone who he doesn't know and has never driven the car he is testing. When I test drove the Accord I wound up buying I'm pretty sure the dealer ran a check on my license with the DMV to see what my record was. I don't see in this day and age how any dealer could let a prospective buyer drive a car without a dealership employee present.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,670
    What bugs me is salespeople that don't respect the merhandise. I've been with some that insist on taking a green, (LT4 mile) cold car, and redlining it in first and second gear coming out of th eparking lot. Not sure if they are dopes, or just trying to imress me with the power/speed of the car, but I actually felt sorry for the car (and the schmo that ended up buying it).

    First time this happened was in th emid-80s when I was with a friend looking at GOlfs. The salesdude pegged this thing so hard, he was doing about 70 by the time he left the lot, squealing tires, etc. My friend bought one, but thankfully a different unit.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    I don't mind if the dealer is sleazy and treats me badly, but I would not want to buy a car from a dealer that does not respect the merchandise they are selling.

    When we were looking for a new car last October, I saw one exactly like I wanted at one dealer. However, the car was filthy inside. I knew right away that I did not want to buy a car from a dealer who treats a new car like that.

    I would not mind having the salesman initially drive the car on a test drive, but if he mistreated the car than the test drive would be over. I would not buy a car from that dealer.
  • bowke28bowke28 Posts: 2,185
    when i drive first (always), i either give it a solid punch (75% of redline) or a smooth easy acceleration, depending on what my customer is interested in.

    if im driving a base taurus or a base sentra, im not likely to gun it...but an altima 3.5 or a sentra spec V will get a little kick in the rear.
  • yeah, I don't understand why people want to go and look at houses before they "know" that they are gonna buy one - what a waste of time!

    To defend - a good test drive goes a long way for me. I like cars, lots of different cars and find it interesting to drive different ones and see what is different, what is the same.

    I haven't done many test drives in AZ, but I used to drive 6-10 cars a year, just to stay on top of what's in the market. But I always had some reason to drive them, aka - I was actually interested and possibly thinking about buying one.

    How would you feel if someone just walked into a Suzuki dealership and bought a Verona without wasting your time to come and drive a Honda Accord before they pulled the trigger? How unhappy might they be if three or four weeks later they find out that they could have bought a better car for around the same money?

    I am a test driver. I don't abuse the product, I try to establish relationships that I will use over and over again for myself and friends who want to buy.

    BTW - I advise everyone I know to test drive at least four other cars before they go and test drive the car they "think" they want to buy. If done right, they will either be left with no doubts...or they will go back and buy a different car - maybe yours.

    I did that for several friends...they love their cars. Meanwhile, I made several new contacts for future potential shopping trips. I get asked to play third base alot...and it helps to have some knowledge of the salesman before walking in the door.

    Of course, I am normally 100% honest about intent and don't walk in on Saturday morning with a list of six cars I want to drive when the lot is full of fish shopping for cars. If they are busy, I come back later. If they are rude, I never come back...and I never bring any of my friends there either.
  • ...dealers forget which side of the transaction holds the power in a negotiation.

    I have the cash...you have the product. If I don't like you or your product, I can carry my cash to a different dealer...right?

    Once I walk out the door for those reasons, you lost the sale - I still have the money and can still buy from another dealer.

    And I have never been rude to a salesperson that wasn't insulting to me first. Like the Caddie/Saab salesman who told me that the new 9-2x would be coming in September because the plants in Europe don't build cars in August...of course, sadly for him, I already knew that the 9-2X is an Impreza reskinned and built/shipped from Japan...so his answer was a cover for him not being able to admit he didn't know anything...

    I didn't even bother correcting him, just a nod, a "yeah, ok thanks" and back out the door I went. Too bad, I wanted to possibly test drive the new 9-3 Sedan and have long considered a late-model used Saab as one of my top considerable cars for the next ride...
  • Years ago, a newspaper writer suggested to readers that they don their best duds on slow Sunday afternoons and attend open houses in the ritzier neighborhoods to "sight-see." She likened it to "free" entertainment, not to mention possible snacks (tea sandwiches and cookies, anyone?).

    There was a swift reaction from the local Realtors organization.

    There are those without the means or intent to buy what they are "previewing." After all, they might just hit the lottery, Megabucks, or get a visit from "Michael Anthony." So, they see nothing wrong in wasting other people's time.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,946
    When my wife sold real estate, "lookie loos" were a pain. They show up at open houses, drag their kids through houses they would/could never buy.

    I don't understand people like harlequin who test drives cars for amusement.

    To each his own, I suppose...
  • ...because i love them. always have, always will. i can't buy every one, but i love to look around and see what's new. i visit edmunds every time i'm on the computer to learn silly little things about cars when i can, and i blatantly waste my time posting these messages because it's fun. i help my friends buy cars if they ask (and sometimes if they don't), and i am always a willing "third-baseman."

    when i visit a dealer, i don't usually ask to drive the car. most of the time i'm offered the opportunity by the salesperson. i don't visit on busy days, and i don't keep the salesperson out on the road for more than a few minutes. the salespeople i have experienced don't seem to mind showing their product as opposed to sitting in the showroom waiting for the ideal buyer to show up. i tested a lexus last week, and the salesperson mailed me a handwritten thank-you card for coming in. maybe it's lexus policy but let me feel important for a minute. bet your behind she'll get first crack at the sale in any event.

    i'm also that guy who has tried on the rolex at the mall about a hundred times. the lady there who helps me hasn't sold me a thing, but she knows, and I know, that when (not if) i have that $3800 saved up, I'll find her.

    people who love cars test drive cars for fun. and they buy them from nice salespeople every now and then, so smile and hand me the keys. you can even ride along...:)
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    .. **i'm also that guy who has tried on the Rolex at the mall about a hundred times. the lady there who helps me hasn't sold me a thing** ... l..o..l...

               
                          The big difference being here is, your honest .. I have let a quite few folks do test drives and depending on the vehicle, sometimes, on rare occasions, even some overnighters knowing they couldn't buy now or even in a year .. but the benefit has been huge and have a very loyal customer base, but with insurance rates trekking towards the moon those days are coming to a close ................. ;)

                                  Terry.
  • When I'm getting ready to consider the my next auto purchase I research sometimes for months. Checking out the different styles and options available for several makes.

    Test drive means exactly what it says "test drive" Many salespeople think that if you are test driving several cars you are wasting their time. I'm always honest and tell of my intentions and why I'm there. I see no problem with having 5 or 6 initial choices, test driving them and narrowing it down to my final choice.

    I never goto a dealership when it is busy and prefer the middle of the week. A few visits also lets me know the atmosphere of the dealership and if they deserve my business.

    An impulse test drive may hit me from time to time but that is why the salespeople are there. A "it's a waste of my time attitude." may be a flashing neon sign that this dealership isn't for you and won't get your hard earned dollar even if they had the model you were interested in.
  • bowke28bowke28 Posts: 2,185
    ill throw terry the 'bingo' of the day today...

    i dont mind going for a ride for 10 or 15 minutes if its not busy and the customer is honest about their intentions. heck, i might even spend more time with that customer and help them compare.

    at the end, you get my card, and your price is that i get to call you for referrals every month or so.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,670
    sounds like a fari trade to me.

    Anyway, every looker is a potential buyer. I'm sure those of you in the biz have plenty of examples of folks that wander in just to look that drive off in a new car.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • bp3959bp3959 Posts: 156
    I agree, I only test drive vehicles that I might want to purchase. Once I find a couple vehicles I like, I'll hop on the internet and start some research, usually takes about a week to make up my mind. Then I start the paperwork with the dealer to specify the options I want, nail down a price, and figure out financing(if needed). Before I sign I'll ask for an extended test drive, usually 24 hours, if it's a new vehicle with no miles, I'll take a used one as that will still make me feel good about what I'm buying. If it's a new model year, I'll just take it a few blocks down the road, sit in it and listen to the radio or something. This just to get a feel of the vehicle, it's not often I change my mind at this point, but it has happened. When that does happen I do my best to make it worthwhile for the salesperson that spent so much time helping me.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,946
    bp3959, it's not often that I agree with bowke but this is one of those times.

    In nine years, I've never been asked by a customer for a two day test drive and I can't understand for the life of me why it would take that long to determine if the car is acceptable.

    It doesn't take more than a few minutes to determine seat comfort either.

    Now, you may be different and have your own motivations. Most people who would do this I would think would be non-serious joyriders who only want to mile up someone else's new car.

    Terry?
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    I've had people who I thought were pillars of the community abuse their "word" about whether they were serious, because there is no respect for the car dealer's inventory - driving a car should be free, and the thought of a salesman asking for a commitment first is crazy in some people's eyes.

    I've gotten vehicles back with 600 miles on after an overnight test drive; we've had trucks scraped up from towing and hauling (and moving appliances); and I've had a few people back out on me AFTER we went 300 miles for 2WD trucks in Wyoming...

    I'll still stand by my limited test drive policy for all of these reasons and more - I'm sorry, it doesn't take two days to figure out whether you can see out of the mirrors, whether the seat is comfortable, or the stereo sounds good. In fact, you don't need to drive the car at all for all three of these "tests".

    For those who love joyriding, or "testing" as you call it, you should have to take time from your job to try to sell that 600 mile thing you just turned into a used car as you watch customers walk around it.
  • bp3959bp3959 Posts: 156
    I've never asked for a 2 day test drive either, I always ask to take it home for the night and come back the next day. In the case I spoke about with the multiple day test drive, on Thursday I told them it would take until Tuesday to get the check from my credit union(commitee meets on certain days), so I'd take the truck Monday night and decide to get the check or not from the credit union Tuesday. The sales manager told me to just take it right then and come back Tuesday to sign and hand over the money.

    The dealership didn't have to do this, but because they did, my next purchase will be with them as well. I'm sure it also makes a difference that I've purchased there before and I am very loyal to the dealer I buy from as far as repairs go.

    Now of course you wouldn't be able to tell this over the internet, but when I meet with the salesperson they can clearly see that I'm serious about purchasing and I am not out to waste their time. As I'm sure you'd agree, once you've had a few years in the sales business, you can get a good idea of a persons intentions within the first minutes of meeting them.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    the vehicle and are just getting financing handled (after we check your bureau), heck, drive the wheels off of it - you own it!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,946
    But I get duped from time to time too. I try not to get too hardened and cynical but I get lied to by people who look as pure as can be.

    So, I guess, in your mind, if a dealer lets a customer take a car on an overnight test drive, then they are a "good" dealer?

    In my mind, they are taking too much risk for the potential reward, but that's me.

    Glad I've never (in nine years) been asked by a customer to do this.
  • bp3959bp3959 Posts: 156
    This was with the papers ready, but not signed.
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