Taking a car for a test drive is one of the best ways to know if the car suits you and your specific needs. If you buy a car without a test drive first, you may end up discovering that the car is below your expectations or some performance aspects are unsatisfactory. However, you may find yourself wondering just how old you have to be to test drive a car!
The minimum requirement to test drive a car in most states is 16 years old with a valid license. A parent or guardian may also be required to be in the vehicle during the test drive for drivers between the age of 16 to 18.
With that in mind, there of course will be minor changes in the laws from state to state as well as by the dealership. Keep reading to learn more about some of the additional questions that may come up regarding test driving a car.
Age Requirements for Test Driving a Car
How old do you have to be to test drive a car?
Based on my research, legally, there is no age requirement, as long as you’re allowed to operate a vehicle legally. This means that anyone behind the driving wheel must have a driver’s license.
However, some dealerships, and states, choose to impose their own specific age requirements.
For instance, some require you to be 21 years old and above to test drive their cars. Others have lower standards of 18 or 16 years, with or without the presence of a guardian.
Can You Test Drive a Car With a Permit?
Most popular dealerships require us to have a valid driver’s license to go on a test drive in one of their cars.
Some dealerships may overlook the age, allowing someone who only has a permit to test drive the cars. This is common in dealerships that handle used vehicles or those with a small local customer base.
In such a case, the driver must be in the company of a licensed person in the car.
Can a 16-Year-Old Test Drive a Car With a Parent?
In most states, the minimum age required to get a full license is 18. At 16 years, it’s possible to get a restricted license and a learner’s permit at 14. This is the case in Florida, Georgia, Connecticut, and Illinois.
In states such as North and South Dakota or Idaho, you only need to be 16 or 16.5 to get a full license.
Some dealerships don’t trust young people to be in their cars alone despite having a valid driver’s license. This is primarily due to the rules governing insurance covers within their jurisdictions.
There is a waiver that goes together with test drives. It states that the insurance provider reserves the right to claim any damage costs from the car’s driver.
Disclaimers are only valid if signed by an adult aged 18 and above. If a teenager aged 16 and below signs the document, it’s not considered valid.
General Guidelines for Test Driving a Car
In addition to the age and license requirements, other considerations you need to know before a test drive include:
1. Distance Permitted
Once you get the green light to go for a test drive, it’s essential to inquire about the distance you’re permitted to cover.
Some dealerships have a pre-determined route for you to take, while others give you the freedom to choose as long as it’s within the distance allowed. This varies based on the preferences of the individual dealership.
2. Do You Need a Company for the Test Drive?
It’s common for most dealerships to insist on having a salesperson accompany us in the drive. In some cases, we can get permission to drive alone if we can convince them.
For teenagers, if it’s allowed to have a guardian present, the dealership can allow the family member to accompany us alone.
Having a salesperson with you is beneficial, as you’ll get instant answers to any questions that arise. For some people, the sales talk that sneaks in during the conversation while driving is not always welcome.
We can request them to allow us to drive in silence without any interruptions in such a case.
3. What about Insurance?
Insurance is not often an issue, especially if we are purchasing the car from a reliable dealer. We only need to provide a copy of our driving license to keep a record. Their insurance is enough to cover us fully.
If I am dealing with a private dealer, the likelihood of me covering the insurance is very high. I am required to have fully comprehensive insurance as opposed to a third-party insurance cover.
Although getting into an accident during the drive is unlikely, third-party insurance could mean I will have to cover the bill for any damages to the car.
The best practice is to ensure that we consult the salesperson to find out their stand on the same. We can also contact your insurance provider before we go for the test drive.
4. Look For Faults!
Any car on sale or otherwise, offered by the preferred dealership needs to pass a comprehensive inspection before the sale.
New cars can also develop some minor damages in the process of transportation. Although a pre-check may have previously taken place, it’s vital to be keen.
It’s common to find that defects are all included in the warranty coverage. However, we need to insist that they get addressed before the final purchase. This will save us both time and money in the future.
In particular, check for scratches or scuffs on the outside of the car and wheels. Also, look out for any odors plus wear and tear in the driver’s cabin.
Is It Okay To Test Drive a Car Without Buying?
It is 100% OK to test drive a car without purchasing it. That would be quite the commitment and defeat the purpose of a test drive otherwise!
It’s one way to know whether that specific car meets our expectations.
Morally, it’s not advisable to test drive a vehicle if you have zero intentions of buying it. You’ll end up wasting time for the salesperson whose earning is commission-based.
As long as we return the car in good condition, we can take a drive for fun. We require a copy of our license and evidence of insurance for us to get permission to drive off in the car.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you test drive a car under 25?
Yes, you can go for a test drive if you’re under 25. Some dealerships actually allow people as young as 16, 17, and 18 if a parent or guardian accompanies them.
Can you test drive a Tesla at 18?
For Tesla, there’s no age limitation for the driver, but they are clear that you require a driver’s license. In most Tesla dealerships, the minimum age requirement is 21, although some are comfortable with 18 years.
Tesla allows you to have the desired car for a couple of days instead of just taking a test drive within a limited distance. For this, you’ll need to be 21 years or older.
How old do you have to be to test drive a car at Carmax?
Like most dealerships, you can take a test drive as long as you’re 18 years old and above and you have a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance.