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Questions About Test Driving

me2me2 Posts: 1
I'm curious. When you test drive a car, does the
salesman go along? I remember when I purchased my
first car (8 yrs ago), the salesman took some info,
gave me the keys and sent me on my way. I've been
on several recently, and the salesman has always
accompanied me.

I'd really like to try the car out without a
salesman presence. I don't need a sales
presentation while I'm driving. I'd also like to
spend more than the five minutes or so that they
usually spend.


  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Just tell them that. Tell them you want to spend 15 minutes driving around. I think if you tell them that you don't want them tagging along, they'll get suspicious. So all you can do is make it clear to them how much of their time you'll be taking if they come along.
  • You could also break up the test drive into two parts. Drive the car with the salesman for 15 minutes or so, and if you really like it and are really interested in it, ask to take it out again for an extended ride. You should really do some freeway driving anyway, as some cars feel fine on city streets but might prove to be skittish or noisy on the highway, or might manifest some problem at higher speeds (overheating, wheel balance, poor braking, etc.).

    I think salespeople can be very helpful and cooperative when they know they have an interested party. If you're just a tire-kicker, they are going to annoy you right out of that car, and I can't say as I blame them if you're going to diddle all the day long. My method has always been to go from short test ride to longer ride to vehicle check out to price haggling, often all in the same day. These steps all keep the salesperson interested in you.

    good luck,

    Joe t.
  • I am wanting to purchase a new 1998 Firebird Formula. I am well prepared as I have done my homework.

    There is a slight problem that I feel will effect
    my ability to negotiate a good price. The dealership does not have any of the new models
    on the lot yet.

    They expect 2 Firebrid's to arrive in about six weeks. This puts me a bad position as far as the supply and demand factor.

    I am wanting to order a new one, if I like the test drive. Since I am going to possibly order a Firebird as opposed to buying an existing one from the lot, does this place me in a better bargaining position?

    Any suggestions on this one? Thank you.
  • garthgarth Posts: 66
    -you should always be looking at more than one dealership, for many reasons. look elsewhere for vehicles in stock.
    -how did you decide you wanted one, before a test drive? (jeez, I don't even buy pants without testing them out first ;)
    -you may get a better deal ordering one - they have no inventory cost, it just rolls off the truck and into your garage.
  • Actually, I read somewhere that about 3 out of 10 people buy a car without ever driving it.
  • garthgarth Posts: 66
    That's scary - terrifying, almost - but it does explain things like the Dodge Avenger. Even so, I would hope that anyone smart enough to be on Edmunds would be smart enough to test drive like crazy - not just the desired model, but the competition, too.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555
    Most dealerships require a salesperson to be present during a test drive. Our Honda store requires this with few exceptions. When people go out alone, they tend to be gone FOREVER! Why? A ten minute drive will tell you as much as a ten hour drive. Also some people do really dumb things on test drives, even when I'm along.

    I always take my clients on a "loop" that includes freewys and surface streets. If they want to go farther, no problem.

    Also, please, don't ask to drive a car that you have no intension of buying !! This happens often, and as a result, most salesmen really don't like to go on test drives. It's no fun to waste hours driving three different cars when the customer "Will be in the market next year" Or, worse yet " I went bankrupt last year, does that matter?"

    Otherwise, I'm always delighted to take a client out. I keep quiet, answer questions and let the Hondas sell themselves.
  • garthgarth Posts: 66
    isellhondas: I take issue with several or your statements. First, a ten minute drive will ABSOLUTELY NOT tell you as much about a car as a ten hour drive, especially with sales chatter, etc. The longer you can spend testing out a car, the better - how else would one find out if the seats are comfortable for long drives, or if the drone of the engine becomes annoying on the highway?
    Secondly, any competent salesman who is confident in the product would not hesitate to take folks on test drives, even if they're not "ready to buy today." Why not pass out a business card, build a relationship, and possibly have a sale in a few months? On another note, I for one think it's valuable to be able to compare cars, i.e. if I'm looking at a top-o'-the-line Civic, I may want to test out an Accord, to see if it's worth the extra cash. Are you telling me you wouldn't accomodate such a request?
    Sigh... I guess all Honda salespeople are alike.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555
    You guess all Honda sales people are alike?

    You sure mis read my post! Most of my sales are to "be backs". These are to people that have spent time with me in the past and were impressed enough to come back and see me.

    If somebody wants to drive five different cars, no problem. I just hope that you are serious.
  • toyomantoyoman Posts: 5
    If you really want to buy a particular vehicle, it may be a good idea to ask the manager if you can keep the car for a day, I have been offered this by a few dealers who I guess were pretty desperate for a sale, if not , how about renting one for a day and really test it out, you'd be surprised how many rental cars that I kept for a week or so I would not buy.
  • garthgarth Posts: 66
    isellhondas- sorry if I have offended you, but I still think I interpreted your post correctly. A salesperson that makes comments like "I just hope you are serious," which, if not a veiled threat, certainly would make a shopper uncomfortable, is not the kind of person you'd have a pleasant experience with. And why can't I test drive a car that I have no intention of buying? If the cars really do sell themselves (and Hondas certainly do; they're fine cars) maybe that test drive will change a person's intentions!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555
    O.K. Garth,

    I have to wonder if you have ever worked on straight commission. If you have, I wonder how you would like to waste time going on test drives with people who are killing time before a movie starts, or are whose credit is so bad that they are one step away from disaster?

    This happens, and it's no fun! For the most part, however, test drives are an enjoyable way for me to get to know my customers and establish rapport with them. Hope you can understand.
  • garthgarth Posts: 66
    Boo hoo. It's part of your job, just as attending meaninless, Dilbert-esque meetings is part of mine. It's a cost of doing business. In fact, you should be THRILLED that someone is killing time before a movie by looking at Hondas - maybe that person's friend or relative will be in the market for a car next week. Spurning ANYONE who walks into your showroom, in any retail business, is pretty poor business practice, don't you think?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555
    OK Garth,

    You're right, you have all the answers!

    I'm sure I can really learn from a guy like you!
  • ghoshghosh Posts: 17
    I have to go with Garth on this one. You have to be able to take the good with the bad. Or,
    you can always convince the dealership to
    post a sign like:

  • tonygtonyg Posts: 1
    I'd like to add my 2 cents worth. I stopped at a dealership in Dallas a few weeks ago (Huggins Honda) to look around (we're in the market for an Accord in the next few months). When the salesman (Chris) found out I wasn't buying that day he lost complete interest in us. And then when I asked to take a coupe out for a drive he wanted me to make a deal first. If that isn't totally rude isellhondas then what is it (I walked away). Needless to say I will not go there to buy when we are ready. Yeah, maybe the Accord can sell itself and I would have just been wasting his time, but I guarantee you he lost out on my business and anyone else I can convince not to go there. So, I have to agree with garth - you never know who might be your next buyer. Take the good with the bad.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555

    Shame on the dealer who treated you that way. You are right. As far as test drives go, I do take the good with the bad, and I really don't mind at all the opportunity to take a customer on a test drive. How else can the car do a good job of selling itself?

    I'll shut up now, because I know that unless you have been in the business, it's hard to understand. As far as posting signs - Give me a break! I am quite good at converting a causal shopper into a happy, satisfied customer. I cannot, however, repair a horrible credit record or
    sell a 20,000 car to an 18 year old who has no cash, credit, or even a job.

    I cheerfully take the bad along with the good. I enjoy what I do, and am quite successful. I guess I did a bad job of explaining.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,368
    Isellhondas is making a really good point here. You'd be amazed at how much more pleasant the car-buying experience can be when both the salesperson AND the potential buyer meet with a good attitude in hand on both sides. There is far too much "us and them" in the automobile marketplace, and one side seems to feed the negativity of the other. After all, to be the "victim" you need to find the evil salesperson, and oddly enough, you often do if that's what you expect. Gee, listen to me---preaching for a Kinder, Gentler Showroom! Well, it's worth a try!

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113

    I don't think it is a matter of poor explaining. I doubt there is a good way to explain it. It's probably something that one in the business is better off not discussing, because it comes out like, "if you're not going to buy from me now, leave me alone".

    Anyone who is successful in leasing or selling anything has likely mastered the screening process. If done properly, it benefits all parties involved. A good sales person can save someone a lot of time if that person is looking at a $20,000 car, but isn't going to be able to qualify for a $10,000 loan. Also, if it's obvious that a person is looking now, but won't be in the market for a few months, a good sales person can start the "goodwill" process with minimal time expended. If the customer decides to buy down the road, there is a good chance that they will return to the place where they had the most pleasant previous experience. Judging from your previous posts, it sounds like this is the way you operate.
    Unfortunately, there are way too many people in your line of work that don't operate that way and it makes it a lot tougher on the good sales people. I'm guessing that most of us who visit this site have had unpleasant experiences at auto dealers in the past. We're here to try to level the playing field. The sales person is the bad guy. You didn't have a chance with this crowd on the customer-screening issue, even if you are one of the good "bad guys". By the way, I think it's great that you're visiting this site. If I was a car sales person, I would be in every chat area I could find on the web to get a better feel for what the consumers were talking about. With all the information now available to car buyers, it's going to continue to get tougher for sales people to make great deals. Hopefully, that will weed out some of the really "bad guys".
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,368
    Brutus, I think what you're saying really points to the poor training of salespeople in the auto business more than the quality of their character. The best salespeople steer the consumer to what works for them, to what they can afford (perhaps barely afford, but...), and explains all the options. I worked briefly in sales when I was younger and received very good training, and was very successful at it. I felt I was really helping people get to what they wanted/needed. But if you train your staff to be merely greedy and hungry and you whip them into pressuring customers, you end up with what you describe...a very unsatisfactory envirnment for the consumer.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    Last year I approached a salesman and inquired about a brand new model. I presented to him a card from the bank I was then financing through. It was a preapproved lease offer for $250 a month. The card stated that if I needed more, I could apply (of course). The car I was looking at was hot, and had no specials available. The typical lease was $370 per month. The salesman told me I could never get this car for $250 per month, and told me that I "was right" for a less expensive model. The reason I presented the card was to show him that I was a serious buyer. He didn't read it, did not give me a chance to explain, and told ME what I had the means to buy. The whole situation was taking "qualifying a customer" too far. Well, he was a young (like me) slicked back, sleezy looking punk (not like me) and I thought so even before I talked to him. I came back later and spoke to another salesperson. She simply presented every financing option she had available, and answered my questions with specific answers, even though I was not buying immediately. Well, I have a hand shake deal on my current car, and hope to buy from HER next week.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,555

    Thanks, you did a great job of explaining things.

    I know that I'm lucky to work for a first class, family owned dealership. I am a corporate excapee and have been doing this for three years. I can sure tell by the many posts that bad experiences abound in this business. In my former life, I purchased many cars and I guess I was lucky in most of my dealings. If I felt uncomfortable or disliked the salesperson, I walked out.

    Thanks for your perspective, Brutus!
  • IMHO, I believe the 3 most important ingredients in becoming a successful salesperson are

    1. Honesty - It's always important to be upfront and honest in your dealings with customers. You will gain tremendous respect from it.

    2. People Skills - Always treat people with the same respect that you would like to receive. It's never in anyone's interest to be treated otherwise.

    3. Product Knowledge - The more you know, the more convincing you will be.

    Proper training and good attitude on the part of the sales staff should reverse the negative opinions many people have when buying new cars.

    In defense of isellhondas, potential buyers should also respect the salesperson's time.
    If the person has no intention of buying the vehicle other than to take a joy ride, then
    that person is at the wrong place, Hertz or Avis would probably be more appropriate.

  • gwahlgwahl Posts: 2
    I can see both sides of the story. Yes car sales reps are there to do two jobs. One, promote the manufacturers new cars and name, and two, to sell the cars. So, unfortunately part of the sales job is customer relations for the brand name they represent. It is worth alot to the manufacturer and to the sales rep if done right.

    Here in central New Jersey I have had great experiences. I have taken cars out by myself and with a salesman. Yes they all asked politely if I would like to buy today, and asked my opinion of the car. When I said I wasn't ready they simply thanked me and gave me a business card. Two of the three dealers followed up in three days time with a thank you note in the mail and another copy of their cards hoping to do business in the future. I will seriously consider them when I am ready to buy.
  • guitarzanguitarzan OhioPosts: 758
    I just bought a 1998 Acura CL. Some things that the saleslady, sales manager, and GM told me were right on the money. And other stuff, like the good guy/bad guy routine were harshly intended to make me feel bad for their "small" profit. It was very very hard for me to sort out spontaneously the right from wrong. The bottom line is I pushed them to their limits, and they did the same to me. However, it was much harder on me. But we both now know exactly where we stand, especially for my next shopping experience. And because of that, we won't have to play games again. Well, they will, but it will be minimized :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,368
    Oh, I bet you'd be a tough sell, guitarzan.
    They'll all be taking aspirin and going to bed early...

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • shawkinsshawkins Posts: 18
    I will have to side with Isellhondas on this issue.
    I have been in the market for a minivan for a few
    months and have been waiting until I sell a vehicle. I have pretty much decided on the Sienna and the local Toyota dealer has been pretty gracious in letting me play with the few Siennas he has on the lot. I do have intent to buy, but not right away. But I do feel a duty to wait until days when he is slow and not take a vehicle out during a time when immediate buyers are likely. We have built a pretty good relationship and he has earned the right of being walked out on first (just kidding). If the salesman is good, I think he can size up immediate and future buyers from joyriders. I think I could do that with little or no training. Generally, I like to show them I know the vehicle almost as well as they do to establish my seriousness to buy. Generally, I think you should get all the test drives out of the way and decide on what you want on the vehicle, then take the one you plan on buying for a short spin to identify any sample defects right then. That is my position and I'm sticking to it! I think it works well for both parties.

    has anyone driven the new volkswagon beetle yet?
  • BrutusBrutus Posts: 1,113
    I thought about taking one for a test drive, but I couldn't find the engine. There was just a big empty space back there. I think I may have been looking at the wrong car. This one had air conditioning in it also. But seriously....about the closest I've come to one was reading an article in the local paper that included two subscribers test drives and opinions. They were impressed. It sounds like a solid car, but only the exterior appearance seems to have any real resemblance to the old bugs.
  • CarMan@EdmundsCarMan@Edmunds Posts: 38,515
    A friend of mine from work test drove the new Beetle on Friday and loved it. He said that for a small engine it had relatively good pick-up and that the car felt extremely tight. I'm going to get my first really close look at it on Wednesday when I go to the NY Auto Show. I'm looking forward to it, it seems like a neat car.
This discussion has been closed.