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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.

If you’re buying used, it’s also an opportunity to make sure everything is as described and in working order.

Social distancing and lockdown have put test drives on hold in recent months, but more options are becoming available as we move towards a new normal.
Things to consider
This article does not represent legal or medical advice, it simply aims to provide an overview of options currently available for those looking to take a test drive.

You should always follow the latest advice from the NHS and Gov.uk regarding social distancing and helping suppress the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Can I take a test drive?

Accompanied test drives are workable while social distancing is relaxed to ‘one metre plus’ (as announced 23rd June 2020).

Whether an accompanied test drive is offered will be at the discretion of the dealership or current owner. They may not feel comfortable sharing an enclosed space with a test driver, so please arrange this directly with the seller and be respectful of any concerns they may have.

Under two metre social distancing, some dealerships may also allow you take a solo test drive, provided they have the right insurance and number plates (as covered below).

When arranging a test drive with a dealership, please make an appointment in advance. Many dealerships are operating by appointment only to help maintain social distancing and sanitisation measures. You can contact a dealer through their Auto Trader advert and arrange your appointment directly.
A driver sits in a red DS car, about to take a home test drive

Solo test drives

The DVLA has approved solo test drives for car buyers, meaning you can take a test drive by yourself or with members of your household.

Any retailers looking to offer solo test drives will need up-to-date trade plates and the right level of insurance in place. As such, solo test drives may not be immediately available from all dealerships.

If you’re considering this as an option, we advise you to contact the dealership directly to see if this is available.

Please be understanding if a system is not yet in place, as dealerships are having to respond to changes in Government policy in real-time and may not have sorted the logistics yet.
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 required to wear a mask and gloves while inside the vehicle, and keep windows open for better ventilation.

You may also be asked to take a short route. You should also confirm whether you must take the test drive on your own or can include member of your household (such as spouses or children).
A car showroom with multiple cars parked inside

Taking an accompanied test drive

In a recent review of social distancing measures, the Prime Minister has introduced ‘one metre plus’ social distancing measures.

These measures allow members of different households to stay within one metre of each other, where it is not possible to stay two metres apart. If you’re within one metre of someone, ‘mitigations’ such as face coverings must be in place.

Please note: the ‘one metre plus’ guidance currently applies to England only. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales haven’t announced any changes to the two metre social distancing rules yet.

NHS guidance still specifies that people must maintain at least two metres of social distance when out and about.

If you have to share a car with someone from another household, for example you are car sharing to go to work, then you are advised to:

• 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

As always, 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

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

Book a live video viewing

We recently introduced live video viewings on Auto Trader adverts.

These video viewings allow you to check the car meets your needs and have a look inside and out before you reach the forecourt.

You may have less time on a test drive, as some dealerships are limiting test drives to around 15 minutes. But you can book a video viewing and the dealership will virtually walk you around the vehicle inside and out, and give you to time ask any questions, just like they would in person.

This means that, when you arrive your appointment, you’re better informed on the car itself and can concentrate more on the driving experience.

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 the retailer can offer you this service.

Learn more about the home services and coronavirus (COVID-19) safety measures dealerships have in place when buying a car.