Ask a teenager or even a pre-teen, and they will tell you how keen they are to drive their own car. They are in an age where they feel the need to “control” things around them, and controlling the car they are in is one step in that direction.
Though legally, they need to be an adult to drive a car on the road, on their own, can they at least test drive a car?
Age Limit For Driving
The laws do not differ for test drives. It is just like driving on those local roads. A person has to be over 18 years of age and also hold a valid driver’s license to test drive a car. In some countries, the minimum age limit to get a valid license can even be 16.
No matter the age limit to hold a valid license, you can test drive a car only if you hold a driver’s license. You could be looking at cars to buy when you get your license; it could be a gift from your parents for graduation, and you may want to test drive it first, but you can’t do so unless you have a driver’s license.
Some dealerships require you to be a minimum of 21 years before you can test drive their car. Even if you hold a valid driver’s license, they may not let you test drive if you are below the age of 21 years.
It is always advisable to have an adult who is more than 21 years of age to accompany you when you visit the dealers to test drive their vehicles.
New Vs. Old
The requirements can be different for old cars and new cars.
When it is a new car, the following factors could be influencing the dealer’s restriction on your test driving a car:
- The car could be new in the market and very powerful, thus not suitable for an immature driver to handle
- Since they are a dealer, if they get reported by a local for letting a minor test drive their vehicle, they could face issues with the law.
- They might face bad publicity if someone were to create an issue for letting a minor drive the car.
- In case of an accident, they cannot claim insurance if the person behind the wheel was a minor or not a valid license holder.
- In case of an accident caused by a minor or a person without a license, they can face severe legal backlash.
- They have a name and reputation to uphold in front of their target market – if the car is perceived as a vehicle for young adults, seasoned drivers may not be interested.
- Even if a 16-year-old holds a valid license, they cannot pay for it in most cases. not many parents will prefer a brand that allows their minor children to test drive without their knowledge
When it is an old car, the garage owner or the car owner might allow you to test drive it as long as you hold a valid license. Here they are an individual and are not tied to any brand.
They have no brand value or reputation to uphold. So, they might let you test drive it if they feel you can drive well, and you might actually take the car off their hands.
Test Driving Remodeled Cars
Many car owners buy a car and take it straight to a garage to get it remodeled and refitted with a different and more powerful engine. If you attempt to test drive one such car, the dealer might not allow you to if you are a minor.
Even if you are an adult but a new driver who just learned to drive, the dealer may not allow you to test drive this remodeled car. The reason is –
- It is not similar to the car you learned to drive in
- The engine could be more powerful, thus dangerous for an amateur to drive
- In case of an accident, fixing the car back to its original shape can be tough in remodeled cars
- Fixing a remodeled car when damaged can be very expensive
In many cases, if it is a remodeled car where the settings, engine, or other features have been tampered with, to make it more suitable for the previous owner, the garage owner may not let you test drive it. Such cars are usually reserved for known customers or seasoned drivers. If you go with a person whom the garage person is familiar with, you might be allowed to test drive it.
The Need To Test Drive
So, if your parents are going to buy you the car, is there a need for you to test drive it in the first place? Well, yes, there is!
If it is a car for you, you need to test drive it to understand your comfort level in the vehicle. Yes, you can adjust and learn to drive the car well; but if you are spending money on a new car, you might as well buy something that you like, rather than learning to like what you bought.
Test driving a car will give you a better understanding of the car’s engine, height, clearance, and many other essential things for a safe and comfortable driving experience. This is why car manufacturers offer a test drive of the vehicles.
Even if you are buying the newer model of the car your parents own or a different model of the brand you learned to drive in, it is advisable to test drive a vehicle before buying it. Reviews can help, but test-driving will help you form your own opinion about the car.
If you are planning to buy a car, we recommend you wait until you get your driver’s license. Once you have a license, you can use it to test drive multiple cars before you can finalize the perfect car for you. When you buy a car, ensure it is the perfect fit for you, especially if you invest in a new one or invest all your life’s savings into an old one.