Would you buy a car without test driving it?

steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
edited September 2011 in General
More people are researching cars online and opting to order a new car to buy or lease without first test driving it.

Some of us will do anything to avoid the dealership!

"Skipping the test drive can also eliminate what for many people is the most annoying part of car shopping -- the hard sell. Already, roughly a third of buyers who purchase their cars over the internet say they do so to avoid face-time with car salesmen, reports Edmunds.com."

Car Buying, Without the Test Drive (smartmoney.com)

Would you be willing to do a "blind transaction?


  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 55,002
    For the right price, yes. Let's say 300SL gullwing, looks mint, $100. I won't need to drive it. :shades:
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited December 2013
    I mail-order sneakers all the time.

    But the lasts haven't changed and they always fit the same. Different styles but I buy the same brand every time.

    If the leg to gas pedal angle is off or my knees bang the door or console, I'm not going to be a happy camper.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    Very interesting question. Like you I buy a lot of clothes on the internet. I did buy a car on Ebay but that was the Celica convertible. As long as it was as represented there wasn't too much to go wrong.

    On a new car I'd have to have driven an example of said car. Just to get a hang of possible killer quirks.

    I will say when we bought our 00 Accord I'd only test driven automatics and bought a stick but that's OK....
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 55,002
    I've bought clothes and shoes online too, as most sizes are the same.

    If it was a car I had sat in and drove before, I wouldn't feel too bad about buying one without driving that exact unit, if I had some kind of recourse about the vehicle not being correct anyway. I wouldn't jump sight unseen into a make and model I had never touched though.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    I'll say one thing about not test driving first. That 00 Accord right off the beat did not have the super smooth shifting that I expect of Accords. It shifts Ok but not like the previous two. When we replaced the clutch (a first on a Honda for me - but it happened at 175K and with my daughter driving it) didn't improve things. When we replaced the tranny (at like 215K - replacing it with a junkyard one) that fixed it!
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • ray80ray80 Member Posts: 1,655
    Yep, have done it at least a couple times. Most recently with the Terrain.
    Research online including reviews and others experiance and if nothing blatent stands out don't need to drive one prior to purchase. Don't want to waste a sales persons time either if I've already decided on vehicle to purchase.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    My short answer is, yes, I would, with the caveats that some of the responders above have already mentioned.
  • michaellnomichaellno Member Posts: 4,120
    I couldn't do it.

    I guess it comes down to whether or not you 'bond' with the car or not. More than just fitting behind the wheel, I guess I'm talking about something more 'spiritual' in nature.

    Yes, even if it's a 4-door appliance, you've got to be comfortable with it since you'll spend so much time behind the wheel.

    Back in '02, I was looking for a V6 powered sedan with leather and a sunroof. Test drove both an Altima and a Saturn L300. For some reason, I thought the interior of the Saturn (redesigned for the '03 model year) was nicer than that of the Altima.

    I did get 97,000 miles out of the Saturn, however, so I guess it was an OK choice.
  • larsblarsb Member Posts: 8,204
    I would advise people to NEVER EVER do that....

    Too many unknowns.

    I did that once (at the request of my then-wife) and it was a huge mistake....

    Don't go there !!!
  • kperesskperess Member Posts: 29
    I agree with larsb above. Too many times I tested a car that I read favorable reviews about and discovered things that really annoyed me. If I had not done the test drive I would have been saddled with the car for way too long.

    If You're picky (like me) you not only test drive it -- you make sure you get a thorough test drive -- meaning all types of roads, smooth, bumpy, local, highway, with the radio/CD/IPOD on (playing something you're intimately familiar with). I often have 3 or 4 cars I'm seriously considering and in those cases I try to get back-to-back test drives...multiple times. I'll also come back another day to make sure my sense of the drive is right.

    I also research the cars thoroughly. Is this too much -- maybe, but I really enjoy my cars and can honestly say I've only bought one that I ended up hating (a Gremlin) because it was a hasty purchase (and I took Consumer Reports high ratings on it without a thorough testing myself).

    Regarding the issue of sales pressure -- the simple way to address that is to ALWAYS be ready to walk (and have alternative models/brands)...even if you like the car. Tell the salesperson if they are getting on your nerves to back off (nicely) and if they don't -- tell them they blew a possible sale and walk away. Today, good sales people understand that sales is about relationship building (especially if you go for upscale brands or models).
  • qbrozenqbrozen Member Posts: 31,041
    maybe this isn't exactly what was meant by the question, but I did not test drive my 350z before buying it. I had driven a different one and knew I wanted one. The one I wound up buying only had 9k miles and was sitting in the middle of the showroom. It had plenty of warranty left, looked in perfect condition, and had a great pricetag.

    '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '21 WRX, '20 S90 T6, '22 4xE. 62-car history and counting! MB Sprinter and '92 Nissan Gloria on the way!

  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    Yep, I did about the same thing with my new 2007 Corvette. I had driven one about a month before. They are all the same. I'm not sure I even opened it up, just started the grind. I had to be a grinder, because the first number the dealer gave was MSRP. I almost left.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    The last four or five new cars have been bought without test driving them. I know how they are going to drive.

    I once bought a used Miata without a test drive. The guy had detailed records, the car was like new. It was in a nice warm garage and it was pouring rain outside. I gave him a deposit and came back the next day with the rest of the cash and drove it home.

    If I do test drive a used car, it's a short, around the block drive.

    Some of my customers used to do some strange and creative and sometimes scary things that made no sense!
  • im_brentwoodim_brentwood Member Posts: 4,883
    Good god no, that's foolish.

    I don't like buying SHOES without trying them out. I have bought plenty of cars without driving them, like my XJ8, but I have driven lots of XJ8s, ditto my GS350 (What was I thinking.. awful car).

    I didn't test drive my Lincoln Premiere either, but it was a thousand miles away and I know what they drive like.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Well, that's kind of like me buying the same brand of shoe all the time (right down to the last I prefer, and the catalog offers some 4 or 5 different lasts). Like your XJ8s, I know how they are going to drive.

    I'd buy an older Miata without a test drive, assuming my mechanic had okay'd it. But I've driven one.

    I bought my Outback without test driving it, although I could have backed out when I went to pick it up. I don't think a test drive would have alerted me to the door handle hitting my knee in the exact wrong spot anyway.
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJMember Posts: 10,379
    Speaking of that Lincoln, when AM I going to see this?
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • gogogodzillagogogodzilla VirginiaMember Posts: 707
    Not just no, but heck no!

    The test drive is the single most important part of buying a car.

    Checking the blind spots... seeing how the seat fits... whether you can see the dashboard through the steering wheel... how the car accelerates/handles... all this you cannot do outside of a test drive, no matter how much research you do.

    Case in point, I thought the Kia Forte would be perfect for me. The internet research all pointed to it being exactly what I was looking for. Until the test drive, that is.

    Then I found that despite the on-line pictures, the dashboard was hard plastic. That's a big no-go for me.

    And the seats were designed by a retarded monkey out to inflict the maximum amount of pain possible on a human being.

    So, I walked away from the car.


    Had I relied solely on internet research, I'd have bought the car... and then had to live with the consequences.
  • iluvmysephia1iluvmysephia1 Alamogordo, NMMember Posts: 7,677
    that's what ya get for not test-driving the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer ES or, even better, the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS. Oh well.

    2021 Kia Soul LX 6-speed stick

  • XxHaimBonxXXxHaimBonxX Member Posts: 135
    edited October 2011
    It so turned out that all my cars were untested. My first two were bought at an auction used, so this is self explanatory. Then '07 Civic, I needed it fast and wanted the gas mileage. Then came the new TSX. It's awesome in any direction, so I knew I wanted it regardless, I was not dissapointed. Now the next car could be the Optima. It has to drive well in order for me to consider it over Acura, so I am planning to test drive the wheels out of it.

    The shoes analogy could work, however, these days you can order them online and if you don't like them, send them back. It's still cheaper than buying at the store.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Please give us your evaluation of the Kia Optima, and how it compares to your TSX.
  • perfectbmwperfectbmw Member Posts: 3
    NO, Many friends are not as excited and pleased as before after equipping their own car with the Many friends are not as excited and pleased as before after equipping their own car with the GPS DVD Navigation. They have no idea that everything has just started right away. There are quite a lot of standards to justify whether your characteristics are well satisfied. For example, do the functions of the new system and sound quality match your initial idea? Is it easy and convenient to control the gadget? The most important point is that you should take some time to communicate with the DVD Navigation to find out if the tune quality is good or not by listening more and repeatedly as well as listening in many ways. Even the some system installed in the same kind of vehicles, the effect it brings can be quite different due to the different users.. They have no idea that everything has just started right away. There are quite a lot of standards to justify whether your characteristics are well satisfied. For example, do the functions of the new system and sound quality match your initial idea? Is it easy and convenient to control the gadget? The most important point is that you should take some time to communicate with the DVD Navigation to find out if the tune quality is good or not by listening more and repeatedly as well as listening in many ways. Even the some system installed in the same kind of vehicles, the effect it brings can be quite different due to the different users.
  • bolivarbolivar Member Posts: 2,316
    Can you say that again?

    And make some sense this time.
  • vchiuvchiu PARIS, FRANCEMember Posts: 564
    edited October 2011
    This was back in december 2005. I was working in China and had to buy a new car to replace a locally made [email protected] My research led me to choose the honda Fit which was the only one within my budget and which would not be underpowered as many other offers on the market.

    I always used to purchase used car and would test drive in order to make sure there were no issues. This was the first time I would buy new, as the used market was non-existent at that time. My decision was purely based on the look, the specs sheet, the price and the good reputation Honda had.
    The only thing I tested with the car was the my seating position in a show-room sample.

    As the car was warranted , i felt a test drive was unnecessary. This means I really discovered the car when I drove it after taking delivery.

    Looking back into it, I realize I took some risk, but the next car which could best the fit my power to weight ratio objectives would cost the double. In other words, I had no alternative car at that time.
    If I had to make a choice today, this would be a bit different, but the Fit would still be a strong contender.

    The second car bought as new without prior test is a 1.6 TDI DSG Golf as a company car which was delivered last February in Paris (France) . There again, I made a lot web research . Most tests results were pretty consistent in concluding this was a very balanced car with good features throughout. The closest car I drove beforehand was a VW Passat with a 2.0 TDI engine. This car was a pleasure to drive and I speculated that the Golf should not be much behind.
    I compensated for VW's average reliability by purchasing a warranty extension for a total of 5 years.
    Even the color for leather or body paint was chosen from a paper catalog. This means that specs aside, I totally discovered the car when I took delivery.

    There again, I was not disappointed and the Golf drove in a satisfying manner.

    As a conclusion, I would be ready to purchase without even seeing the final model. One important step however would be for me to seat in the driver's place and see if my driving position is OK. I would probably require a test drive for brands which are totally unfamiliar to me or with little engineering history.
  • weaselinsuitweaselinsuit Member Posts: 78
    Bought a new Honda Odyssey in August without a test drive, in fact sight unseen via internet website that does the bid soliciting for you. Have had a number of Hondas and gambled that they likely wouldn't have screwed things up. They didn't. It drives like a Honda van, which is a good thing.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    Congrats! My brother and his wife have really enjoyed theirs and it has a lot of nice features on it that my older Quest doesn't have (who knew that power doors would be nice and quiet for late night access in campgrounds?).

    Have you driven other Odyssey vans before?
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,691
    edited October 2011
    If nothing else I'd want to check things like the seats, the driving position, controls etc. I like to drive on different types of roads to find out how well it rides handles and brakes. If it's an old car I try to wring it out to check things like brakes. I was once out in a '68 Firebird Sprint convertible I was interested in. I stood on the brakes as hard as I could at 30 or 40mph and damned if the frame didn't flex so much that the fan started chewing up the radiator. NO SALE!

    I sold our Saab 900S to some friends and had to insist that they test drive it. I figured Saabs have certain peculiarities that they might not like. They bought the car, still have it and use it to commute daily.

    If I'm buying new it might suffice to drive a similar car but I make the sale conditional on my satisfaction after driving it prior to signing the papers.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    A reporter would like to interview anyone who has used Edmunds.com's Car Match.

    Please email [email protected] by November 4, 2011 with your daytime phone number and a comment about your experience.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    That Firebird had a bad motor mount. A frame won't flex like that.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    "For New-Car Buyers, Taking a Test Drive Now Seems So 1995
    Vanessa Vick for The New York Times

    UNTESTED Charles Van Stone did not test drive the 2010 Camaro he leased.

    AT a time when consumers have become accustomed to buying flat-screen televisions from Amazon.com without ever seeing the picture quality and ordering shoes through Zappos.com without trying them on, is it any wonder that some would buy a vehicle without ever taking a test drive?..."

    This is just the first paragraph of a two page article that gives a lot of reasons, pro and con, why an increasing number of people pass on test drives.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    edited August 2012
    "More than 1 in 10 U.S. car shoppers skip a test drive, buying a car without checking the ride, a new study shows."

    The article talks about net research as a substitute but I think this quote may be the real reason:

    "The aversion to test drives may be rooted in the dealership experience"

    Translation - people hate going to car dealers.

    Car Shoppers Often Skip Test Drive, Study Reveals (Inside Line)
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 15,847
    In 1995 I special ordered my Club Sport without driving one- mainly because Munich was building less than 400 of the little beasties. I had already driven a base 318ti and liked it, so I figured that adding an M Technic suspension and M Technic bodywork would only make the car better. Seventeen years later, I still love the car.
    Last month my wife bought a CPO 328i- again without a test drive. Both of us had driven several permutations of the E9x 3ers, so there was no need to waste everyone's time.
    Having said all that, there is NO WAY that I would buy a car that I had not driven in the configuration I was buying. One example:

    I was a bit interested in a Lincoln LS V6 with a manual. They were extremely rare and there was no way to test drive a stick prior to purchase. I might not have liked the clutch take-up or the shift quality, but I'd be stuck with the thing(I guess I should count my lucky stars that I didn't get one, as Ford threw the LS under the bus and Lincoln began to specialize in building overpriced, tarted-up Fords).

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2018 330i xDrive

  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    I think the big issue is the ergonomics, especially with the seat. What if it turns out that the thigh support is just too short for you?

    The problem is that often test drives are just too short for you to learn how comfortable the car is going to be after sitting in it cruising the Interstate for four hours.
  • nortdnortd Member Posts: 13
    First, I do my homework on the internet as to what I am interested in. When ever I purchase a new vehicle, I almost always rent that make and model for an overnight week-end day (the rates are very low on weekend days). This eliminates all the sales pitch nonsense (until you get to the Finance guy, who then tries to sell you everything from an extended warranty to a "lifetime wax job"!!!
    I have done this with my last three vehicles. I know someone will say "well that's expensive" but this way I get to really test drive the car and can put bookoo miles on it and get to really feel how it drives and feels. :)
    I am not an expensive car buyer, so almost always I can find what I am interested in at local rental agencies.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    "A new online service enables car shoppers to test drive vehicles without going to a dealership.

    Tred, a Seattle startup with ties to former GM CEO Rick Wagoner, cuts dealership trips by delivering new vehicles for consumers to test drive and possibly purchase.

    Tred drivers, not salespeople, deliver the vehicles wherever the shopper wants. The service ensures that dealerships can keep salesmen on the floor at all times, the company said."

    Seattle startup tied to Wagoner delivers cars for test drives (Automotive News)
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454

    "Test drives are one of the most important parts of the new car buying process but studies show that many Americans are skipping them. Automotive marketing company DMEautomotive recently found that one third of shoppers test drive just one vehicle prior to purchase and 16 percent don’t test drive at all. Studies also show that the number of dealers a consumer visits prior to purchase has gone down substantially in the last several years."

    Consumers Test Drive Less, Visit Fewer Dealerships (US News)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaMember Posts: 12,555

    Unless the dealership is going to let me have the car overnight with a 200-mile limit, I really only need 10 minutes in a car for a test drive. What's the point of 30-45 minutes vs 10? Either way you're not getting enough information about the car to know how you will feel about it for the next five years.
    I do a quick check that I can get comfortable in the seat and take it a couple of miles down the freeway to check for ride and noise at those speeds and call it a day.

    Now if I was ever going to spend serious money on a car, then I would figure out a way to get the car for an extended period, at least overnight. But for the under-$25K cars I typically buy, it's not worth the trouble.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

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