Car Buying

Buying a Car: Can You Take Home a Car On a Test Drive?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

For some shoppers, buying a car means bringing it home before signing the papers. The most common reason for this is to see if the prospective car fits in the buyer's garage, but car shoppers may also want to bring a car home for a other reasons. These include seeing if an unusually large item (a musical instrument or a dog) fits inside and checking it out overnight. Can you actually bring a car home when you're on a test drive? Let us explain.

How Far Is Home?

For most dealerships, it's a good sign when a driver wants to bring home a vehicle they're considering. It means that the driver is probably very interested in the vehicle, and they want to try it out in a setting where they're more familiar. In many cases, whether or not a dealer lets you bring a car home on a test drive often depends on exactly how far away you live from the dealership.

If you live relatively close to the dealer -- say, within 30 minutes -- you should have no problem bringing home the car, assuming you have a good reason for the excursion. If you're farther from the dealer, you might not be so lucky. Many dealers probably aren't going to want a salesperson to leave the floor for several hours just so a customer can test out a car at home. Instead, the dealer may provide the customer with the vehicle's measurements and suggest that the customer measures the garage or the large item that needs to fit inside to find out if it will work. Still, some dealers will allow a potential buyer to bring the vehicle home, even if "home" is a longer distance away.

Overnight Test Drives

In many cases, car dealers -- especially new-car dealers -- offer overnight test drives. This may seem like a surprising practice, but dealers know that shoppers are more likely to buy a car once they've had it at home, where they'll grow a little more comfortable with the idea of owning the car. As a result, overnight test drives aren't especially uncommon.

If you're interested in an overnight test drive, we strongly suggest that you take a traditional test drive first. Only once you've decided that the car is one you might be seriously interested in should you ask the dealership for an overnight test drive. An overnight test drive monopolizes dealership resources and can be time-consuming for the dealership to set up and track. Plus, the dealership carries some serious theft, damage and mileage risks by letting a customer bring a vehicle home for the night. Nonetheless, if it's important to you, don't be afraid to ask. For some customers, a more extensive test drive is a crucial part of the car-buying process.

If you're buying a car and you need to bring it home, explain the situation to the dealer. You might be surprised to find that many dealerships will say yes -- whether it's for an hour or for a night.

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.
Buying a Car: Can You Take Home a Car On a Test Drive? - Autotrader