Turns Out A Lot Of Car Buyers Don't Even Bother With Test Drives

Last year, Americans bought 15.6 million new cars. If this study is accurate, then nearly 2.5 million of those cars were never driven before they were purchased, and nearly 8 million were driven for fewer than 30 minutes.

Yes, Americans suck at test driving the cars they buy, when they can even be bothered to do it at all, reports Forbes' Jim Gorzelany. He cites two recent studies to reach this conclusion:

According to a recent survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by the research company DMEautomotive, 16 percent of car buyers eschewed a test drive altogether, with 33 percent taking out only a single model out once for a quick spin before signing the paperwork. A separate study conducted by AutoTrader.com determined that among shoppers who did in fact take a test drive, 49 percent said they spent fewer than 30 minutes to make an informed decision.

Emphasis mine. There are reasons for this. Thanks to the Internet's plethora helpful car-buying websites (unlike Jalopnik, where we tell you to just buy a Miata) car buyers are more informed than ever before. A lot of prospective car owners do their homework for the most part, knowing about prices and gas mileage and reliability long before they show up at the dealership.

Still, I agree with Jim on this: I can't imagine ever buying a car without driving one extensively first. You wouldn't buy a new pair of pants without trying them on first, right? Why would you do any less with a car? Could it be that once people find a car that ticks all the boxes — room, price, gas mileage, etc. — the actual drive doesn't matter that much?

People often ask me which car they should buy. Generally, I tell them that once they have narrowed down their choices to just drive all of them and buy the one they like best. As I've said on here before, you can read reviews until your eyeballs bleed, but nothing ever compares to actually driving the car for yourself and learning how it feels and how it will suit your needs.

Anyway, I don't have to tell any of you guys this, but tell your less car-savvy friends to drive their cars extensively before they sign the paperwork. Nothing is worse than having regrets with such a huge purchase.

Photo credit Shutterstock

Hat tip to Wayne!