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Taking a test drive in lockdown

From virtual viewings to solo test drives - find out what your options are when taking a test drive during lockdown.

Dealerships are open and can help you buy your next car. As most restrictions have lifted (please check local guidance for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the latest updates), test drives can resume as normal.
Previously, measures such as solo test drives and live video viewings were introduced to help car buyers during the various levels of lockdown through 2020 and early 2021.

What is a live video viewing?

Live video viewing can be arranged with dealerships.
Live video viewings are a great way to get a feel for a new car. You can arrange them from home and get a guided tour of any vehicle you’re thinking about. The dealer will show you the car inside and out on the video and answer any questions you have before you even reach the forecourt. That way, you only have to get a feel for the car and the driving experience when you take your test drive. Live video viewings can be arranged directly with the dealership, where they have been made available. Look out for the live video viewing icon on the car advert, to see if it’s available to you.

Can I take a test drive?

Test drives can go ahead as normal, provided dealerships have the capacity to offer them. As with any industry, there may be staff shortages caused by isolation and other factors.
We’d advise booking an appointment in advance so you can get the most out of your visit to a dealership. You can contact a dealer through their Auto Trader advert and arrange your appointment directly. Trading Standards confirmed standard test drives were permitted during the last lockdown, provided the driver paid a deposit on the car (online or over the phone). Other stipulations included a certain level of insurance and that it be a solo test drive (see below). Should any such measures be reintroduced, your dealership will inform you. Call ahead to confirm so you know what to expect on the day.
A driver sits in a red DS car, about to take a home test drive
DS offer home test drive servives

Solo test drives

The DVLA approved solo test drives for car buyers, meaning you can take a test drive by yourself or with members of your household.
Whether these are still offered will be at the discretion of the dealership. Previously, any dealers looking to offer solo test drives needed up-to-date trade plates and the right level of insurance in place.
What do I have to do in a solo test drive?
The specifics will vary depending on the dealership, so please arrange the details directly with them. You may be asked to take a short route and confirm whether you’ll take the test drive on your own or can include members of your household.
A car showroom with multiple cars parked inside
Showrooms can re-open, just make an appointment

Taking an accompanied test drive

Most restrictions have lifted, but it’s important to keep safety front of mind.
During lockdown, the general rules for sharing a car with someone from another household included: • Have as few people in a car as possible • Maximise the distance between people in the vehicle – for example sitting on the furthest back seat from the driver • Share transport with the same people each time • Open windows for improved ventilation • Wear face coverings Wash and/or sanitise your hands for at least 20 seconds. It is also recommended that cars are thoroughly cleaned before and after a test drive – something to keep in mind if you are looking to privately sell your car.

Making the most of your test drive

Test drives give you chance to make sure you’re comfortable behind the wheel, that you’ve got enough room for everything you need — be that boot space or comfy backseats for the kids — and to generally make sure it’s the right car you. Here's how to arrange a test drive.
If you’re buying used, it’s also an opportunity to make sure everything is as described and in working order. Here's how to test drive a used car. You can make the most of your appointment by researching ahead online. Get inspired with Auto Trader’s YouTube videos and best-ofs, and narrow down your list with our expert reviews. You can find what’s on the market near you and shortlist your favourites on the Auto Trader app. With a clearer idea of what you want and what else is on the market, you can make the most of your test drive by purely focusing on the driving experience.
A dealer offers a live video viewing of their blue Renault
Virtual viewings are available on Auto Trader
This article represents Auto Trader’s opinions and interpretation of the current situation and does not necessarily reflect the latest government guidance and advice. Please always consult the latest government guidance and advice before taking any decision based on this article.

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