The process of test-driving a vehicle is simple and can be done at a dealership or with a private seller. You can schedule a visit or request a test drive at a dealership while exploring the lot or showroom.
Before purchasing a car, it is advisable to take it for a test drive so you can see how it drives. Additionally, you can optimize your test drive by understanding what to look for during the drive.
But how old do you have to be before you can take the wheel? The answer varies by state – You must be at least 18 years old to test drive a car at most dealerships.
Legal Requirements in Different States
Do you have to be 18 years old to test drive a car?
The answer is no. Some states allow 16-year-olds to take the wheel, and even if there’s an age limit for driver’s testing, it doesn’t necessarily apply just for company representatives.
A person can get their learner’s permit at 16-years-old and then pass their road exam before they turn 17 with parental supervision.
However, some states like New York do not provide this privilege until one turn 18 or older, without any exceptions.
In Colorado, drivers under 17 are only allowed behind the wheel of vehicles during supervised practice driving lessons where someone over 21 holds up a logbook detailing when these types of drives took place.
In Illinois, some parents take matters into their own hands and allow their children to test out new cars by letting them take control of the steering wheel when they go for a drive around town.
The most important thing is that you know your state’s laws on this issue before diving headfirst into it because there are many different ways people can learn how to drive a car without having to wait until 18 years old or older needed to be.
In California, a minor is an individual under 18 years of age. Parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must sign the applications (for a DL or any change of DL class) of minors (s). Both parents/guardians must sign if they share shared custody.
Note: Minors are prohibited from working as paid drivers and from operating school buses carrying students.
To receive a permit you must:
- Be at least 15 and a half years old.
Fill out the Driver License and Identification Card Application (DL 44/eDL 44) form.
Sign the application along with your parents or guardian(s).
Montana, Idaho, and North Dakota, for instance, provide restricted licenses to 15-year-olds like El Salvador, although in New Mexico, you may obtain a license at 15 years and six months. In North and South Dakota, learners’ licenses are awarded at the age of 14!
Can You Test Drive A Tesla At 18?
Yes you can test drive a tesla at 18. Drivers must possess a valid United States driver’s license and be at least 18 years old.
Test drives last about 30 minutes and allow you to experience the unique features and performance of a Tesla vehicle.
Tesla periodically offers test drive sessions for individuals who do not reside near a dealership.
Can A Teen Test Drive?
Teens can test drive if they have a license. They will need their own insurance, and the car should be insured, too. The person taking them for the ride needs to go with them in the passenger seat to supervise as well since teens cannot take care of themselves while driving yet.
People must understand how old you have to be before getting your driver’s permit, so they know what requirements are when it comes time for this process.
In many states, 16-year old’s may qualify for a learner’s permit, which allows behind-the-wheel training with an accompanying qualified adult up until 18 years of age without restriction on hours, day or night–provided restrictions of the learner’s permit are followed.
This may not be an option in other states due to age restrictions on when a person can get their driver’s license (typically 18 years old).
Other requirements for getting your driver’s license include having proof of identity and social security number and passing written, road sign recognition, vision check, eye exam and skills test or obtaining a learner’s permit.
How Long Can a Test Drive Be?
A car dealership will often times allow a test drive for 30 minutes or so.
Some people are given 60 minutes to test out the new vehicle as long as they have not yet signed anything on their end of the transaction and just want to know if it’s worth buying from this specific dealer.
The best part about being allowed a full hour is that you can really put some miles in, stress testing your engine, suspension, brakes and other critical components without any worries.
Can I Test Drive A Car Alone?
The answer is no. If the driver of the vehicle is less than 18 years old, they may not operate or ride in that type of motor vehicle unless supervised by another person who has attained at least eighteen (18) years of age and holds either an operator’s license endorsement for that class of vehicle or a motorcycle instruction permit issued pursuant to §31-27-374(a)(iii).
The law states: “A minor under eighteen (18) years old shall not operate any motor vehicles on public highways outside municipal limits without being accompanied by a parent or guardian.”
For someone to legally test drive a car, one must first get their driver’s license from driving school, and then they can legally test drive a car.
How Old Do I Have to Be to Test Drive A Car in California?
- Your driver’s license
- To test drive a car you need to have a GDL license.
Because you need at least a GDL license in order to test drive a car, you must be at least 16 years old. You can’t go for a test drive with a learner’s license.
The owner of the vehicle you’re taking for a test drive must have insurance that covers another person driving the car. The car would be covered by the dealership’s insurance, not yours. The law only mandates that the dealership have liability coverage (to cover damage to another vehicle), not coverage for physical damage (damage to the dealership’s car).
But because you can’t get coverage on your own insurance for physical damage to a car you’re taking on a test drive, that still falls under the dealership’s insurance, not yours. For this reason, you legally won’t need proof of insurance.
How to get the most out of your test drive
Know Its Purpose
Contrary to what some may believe, test drives are not pleasure rides. If you want to spend more than $15,000, it is prudent to perform your due diligence so that you are ultimately happy with your purchase. It is not unusual to discover automobiles that are one or two years old on used car lots. More frequently than not, individuals were dissatisfied with their purchases and had to return them. A test drive aims to determine whether or not the vehicle is suitable for you and your family.
Understand Your Desires
As much as possible, when taking a test drive, you should simulate your typical car-related tasks. It implies that if you take the highway every day or are frequently stopped in traffic, you should drive the same way on your test drive.
Also, consider additional elements such as road trips. How frequently do you engage in these, and how long do they typically last? Do you typically travel on unpaved roads on these trips?
Do you often transport bulky or heavy equipment? These inquiries will be helpful when selecting the correct automobile for you. Last but certainly not least is the issue of comfort. Ensure that all seats have appropriate legroom and sufficient support for extended sitting.
Don’t Overlook Comfort
The choice to purchase a new automobile should not be made lightly. Therefore, despite the temptation to focus primarily on critical characteristics, such as the vehicle’s size and price, resist the urge. Although some of the car’s attributes may appear trivial, please resist the temptation to overlook them.
The assumption that specific characteristics are included in the vehicle they are considering is one of the most common concerns encountered by automobile consumers. Only to be disappointed when they discover that their new automobile does not meet their expectations. Spend a few minutes composing a list of your desires.
Drive like it’s yours
There is no “correct” method for test-driving an automobile. The best method is to consider the driving conditions you experience regularly and ensure that the car you desire can manage them. “Test-drive the vehicle as you would regularly operate your vehicle,” advises Jones.
If the daily/weekly schedule includes stretches on the highway, crowded parking lots, or navigating tiny city streets, ensure that the test drive replicates these conditions. Some automobile salespeople may let a 20-mile (or longer, depending on the salesperson) test drive to ensure that the SUV is powerful enough for your daily commute.
Try out other typical scenarios. Request to bring a new automobile home. A copy of your driver’s license and proof of auto insurance is required, along with the appropriate documentation. Many dealers may allow you more time with the vehicle to ensure that it suits your lifestyle (and that it fits in your garage).
Hi I’m Marshall based in 1478 Doctors Drive Santa Monica, CA. I’m your DIY Car Repairman with more than 5 years experience in automobile repair, a skill I learned from my old man.
I started this blog to share my experience on both simple and technical aspects of your car.