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How should you let people test drive your car?

When selling your car privately, a potential buyer may ask for a test drive. Here are our top tips to keep yourself and your car safe.

Selling your car can sometimes take time, and one way for potential buyers to get a good feel for your car is to offer a test drive.
Letting a stranger test drive your car doesn’t have to be stressful, and conducting one confidently and safely could result in a very positive experience for both yourself and a prospective buyer. But how do you go about it?

Can I let someone test drive my car?

When selling your car privately, prospective buyers might ask you for a test drive as they would at a dealership, and you’re entirely within your right to offer one. Offering a test drive can be a great chance to advertise your car whilst the potential buyer makes sure they're comfortable, that they’ll enjoy driving the car and that it's right for all their needs.

Can someone test drive your car without insurance?

No. Before a potential buyer steps foot in your car, make sure you have proof that they’re insured and that it definitely covers them whilst driving in your car. You can check by looking at the prospective buyer’s policy document to see if it says they have driving-other-cars cover (DOC). The last thing you need is for an accident to happen en-route to then only find out you’re not covered.
If you have Any Driver car insurance, this will likely cover test drives, although you should always check with your provider. If you’re not covered for other people driving your car, get in touch with your insurance company, as they may be able to put a temporary policy in place that specifically covers test drives until you sell your car. You can compare car insurance on Auto Trader here.
Test driver having paperwork checked
Test driver having paperwork checked

Top tips for safely arranging a test drive when selling privately

There are some ways to keep yourself safe and have a great experience when arranging for a potential buyer to test drive your car:
1. Ride along in the passenger seat. You should never let a stranger drive off in your car. Instead, you should always accompany the prospective buyer. If there are any other people in attendance (for example a friend of either yours or the tester), they can stay behind and wait for you both to return. This gives you peace of mind knowing that a stranger isn’t going to just drive away in your car, plus it gives you a great opportunity to really sell your car and answer any questions they may have. Just don’t get overzealous with your pitch, you don’t want to put the buyer off. 2. Prepare a test drive route in advance. By planning a route in advance for your upcoming test drives you’ll be familiar and comfortable with the area, providing you with the perfect opportunity to showcase the car in different driving situations and let the prospective buyer get a real feel for it and ask any questions that may crop up. Some people may be put off by this, but by explaining the benefits, a serious buyer will be happy to oblige. 3. Perhaps an obvious one, but screen buyers thoroughly. This will allow you to weed out potential time wasters or people who may have a hidden agenda. Make sure to have extended conversations before agreeing to meet and find out things about them that will make you more comfortable; for example, where they’re from, how they are planning to pay etc. Filtering the serious buyers from the window shoppers by asking the right questions can reveal someone’s real motive. 4. Don’t be too eager to sell. If you come across as eager to get rid of your car to a prospective buyer, there’s a good chance they’ll use it to their advantage. Not only can it reduce your profits, but you also might miss any warning signs. Beware of flippers – professional car buyers who just want to haggle and buy your car as cheaply as possible before selling it on for a profit. 5. Meet in a public place and bring a friend along. If you’re not comfortable meeting a potential buyer alone, it’s well within your rights to ask a friend or family member to accompany you. Ask if they plan on bringing someone along with them too. Keep your wits about you and if they’re evasive about answering, take it as a sign. 6. Take pictures. Before getting in the car, make sure the buyer has their driving license. Take a picture of it and send it someone you trust. It may seem overly cautious, but it helps to keep you and your car safe in the event of an accident or emergency, and it means you’ve got the drivers details if anything goes awry. 7. Easier said than done, we know, but there’s no need to be scared of letting someone test drive your car. Listen to your instincts and take all of the necessary precautions - you could just close the deal. 8. Don’t leave your keys or car unattended under any circumstances. 9. Remember: if it doesn’t feel right, you have no obligation whatsoever to offer the test drive.
Keys being handed over after a successful test drive
Keys being handed over after a successful test drive

What should I do after the test drive?

Once the test drive is over, there are a couple ways things can go:
If the potential buyer tries out the car and decides it’s not for them, don’t be too deflated. Use the experience as a learning opportunity to enhance future test drives. Without probing too deep, ask questions to find out what they liked and disliked, which could inform future sessions and help you sell your car. If the prospective buyer decides they like the car and wants to proceed with the sale, you’ll have some next steps to follow in terms of getting all the paperwork together to officiate the sale. You can learn all about the documentation required when selling your car here. Are you thinking of selling your car and need some advice? Through AutoTrader you can either get an instant cash offer for your car, or you can place an advert onsite in three simple steps. Learn how to create your own advert on AutoTrader here.

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