Are you thinking about buying a new or used car? If so, you may be wondering if it’s really necessary to take it on a test drive first. It can be difficult to learn enough about a vehicle through a purely visual inspection to determine whether it’s in good condition or not. You’re less likely to run into problems when buying a car without test driving if it’s a brand-new vehicle. However, even new vehicles may have defects that weren’t detected during the manufacturing and quality assurance processes.

A vehicle is a huge investment. For many people, a car is the second-largest purchase they’ll make after their home. When you’re spending that kind of money, you need to do your due diligence and make sure the vehicle you buy is in good shape and is a good fit for your needs.

Here’s what you should know about the possible consequences of buying a car without taking it for a test drive first.

What’s Wrong With Buying a Car Without Test Driving?

There are several reasons you may be tempted to buy a car without a test drive. You may be looking at a vehicle for sale online in another state. You might also want to skip the test drive if you’re hurrying to buy a car that many other people want to buy. Finally, you might think you can skip the test drive if you’re purchasing a used car from someone you know and trust. However, there are many things that can go wrong if you fork over the cash before taking the vehicle for a spin.

Buying a car without test driving it could end up being a costly mistake. In the worst-case scenario, you might end up wasting your hard-earned cash on a “lemon” — a vehicle with a significant malfunction or defect that makes it unsafe or unreliable to drive. Such a defect might be hard to see even with a visual inspection. That’s why it’s so important to go for a short test drive before agreeing to purchase any vehicle.

Even if there’s nothing technically wrong with the vehicle you’re considering buying, you still want to drive it around to make sure you like the way it handles. If you’re a short person, you’ll want to make sure you can see clearly over the dashboard. If you’re a tall person, you want to make sure you can comfortably fit in the vehicle. Buying a car without test driving it first could result in you owning a vehicle that you don’t feel comfortable driving.

Do You Need a Vehicle Protection Plan When Buying a Car?

A woman pays for expensive repairs after buying a car she didn't test drive.

When you’re buying a car, you should consider investing in a vehicle protection plan. It will help cover the costs associated with unexpected vehicle breakdowns and repairs. You can purchase your vehicle protection plan from a car dealership or third-party provider. Don’t purchase a protection plan from random callers claiming to offer extended warranties. You want to make sure you’re buying a protection plan from a reputable provider who will advocate for you when you need help filing claims.

Here at autopom!, we offer a variety of vehicle protection plans to give you peace of mind as a vehicle owner. They include exclusionary, mid-level, and powertrain plus options. These plans cover electrical and mechanical breakdowns so you don’t have to worry about how you’ll get your car back on the road. Contact us to learn how these plans differ from each other and get help selecting the right plan for your needs as a vehicle owner.

What Should You Look For When Test Driving a Car?

You know by now that buying a car without test driving it first can be a huge mistake. Before you even think about paying for or signing a loan on a vehicle, schedule a time to test drive it. If a seller has any qualms about you driving the vehicle before buying it, that’s a red flag. The seller may want to come along with you so you don’t steal the vehicle. They may also request that you leave your driver’s license with them as collateral while you go for a test drive. Be prepared for either scenario.

Once you have arranged a test drive, what you should actually be looking for? Here are some of the basic things to pay attention to before and during your test drive.


A man examines a car he is considering buying.

Once you’ve decided you’re not buying a car without a test drive, don’t forget to visually inspect the vehicle first. Walk around the exterior of the vehicle and look for visible signs of damage. Check under the hood to make sure everything is in good condition. Ask where the oil dipstick, battery, and washer fluid are if you can’t find them easily.


Once you’ve checked the exterior, inspect the interior and make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Check to make sure there’s adequate legroom for you and your passengers. Consider whether the vehicle has enough storage for your needs. If good connectivity is important to you, check for USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity.


If the exterior and interior of the car meet your preferences, it’s time to drive the vehicle. Make sure it handles well and has good braking performance. Pay attention to how noisy it is inside the car at higher speeds. Can you see clearly out of the windshields and mirrors? Are there any blind zones? Does the car accelerate to your liking or is it too sluggish for your needs? These are the types of questions you want to ask yourself during your test drive.

Get a Vehicle Protection Plan

Even though by not buying a car without a test drive you can avoid many major issues, it’s still important to have some type of backup in case things go wrong with your vehicle down the road. That’s where a good vehicle protection plan comes in handy. Contact autopom! for help finding a plan with the right level of coverage for your needs.

By Mike Jones, President & CEO of autopom! Insurance Services, llc