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Women Shop Smarter With Test Drive Passengers

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author photo by Nick Palermo August 2013
  • Half of shoppers say they need only one drive before buying.
  • Forty-four percent of men test a vehicle alone.
  • Only 14 percent of women take test drives solo.

A thorough test drive is important in any car purchase, new or used. For new-car shoppers, a drive can reveal attributes and features that cannot be demonstrated on a parked vehicle. It gives potential buyers a chance to experience a vehicle's behavior on the road and decide whether it's a good fit for their particular needs. 

Test drives are even more important for used-car shoppers, since they may reveal wear on the vehicle or even a mechanical issue that only appears in certain driving conditions.

While a drive is important for finding the right vehicle, doing it right will help car shoppers make a wise decision. One way to get the most out of your test drive is to bring a friend or family member along for the ride.

 Your sidekick can help in several ways, such as testing out rear seat space or taking notes that you may otherwise forget. 

Most Shoppers Bring a Friend

In a recent survey, AutoTrader.com found that about two-thirds of shoppers bring at least one other person for a test drive. Men go it alone far too often; only 44 percent of male respondents bring someone along. Women take a smarter approach, with only 14 percent embarking alone on a test drive.

These findings are important because they reveal a gap between assumptions and reality when it comes to car shopping. 

Many Americans still believe that women are less savvy than men at choosing the right car and negotiating a good deal. But the recent AutoTrader.com survey shows that women are far more likely to handle the test drive portion of car shopping wisely, with a friend or family member there to help.

Take a Longer Drive

Still, the survey shows that car shoppers don't spend much time test driving, with 44 percent of shoppers saying just one drive is enough to make a decision, and nearly half saying a test drive of less than 30 minutes is sufficient. 

We see room for improvement here. A longer and more thorough drive or a back-to-back drive comparison of two vehicles can help shoppers make a good decision and feel more confident when closing a new- or used-car deal.

For decades, car shopping has been considered a man's work. Women were encouraged to bring their fathers, brothers or sons to help them make a decision and negotiate a deal. Today women are shopping smarter, at least when it comes to test driving vehicles. All car shoppers, new or used, should follow their lead and bring a friend or family member along for a thorough drive before buying.

What it means to you: Most women wisely bring a helper along for test drives. Men could learn from their example, shopping smarter with the help of a friend or family member.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Women Shop Smarter With Test Drive Passengers - Autotrader