How to take advantage of an extended test drive

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Test Drive

Dealership test driving lasts less than an hour, but you can easily get a 24-hour test drive. Image: Flickr / nrmadriversseat/ CC-BY-SA

Deciding on a new vehicle can be tough because it means committing to a vehicle after test-driving it for a short amount of time. For those who want more information about a vehicle before buying, there is a very simple way to get an extended test-drive for less than $30.

Why extended test drives are a good idea

Most test drives taken while visiting a dealership last just a few minutes; 15 to 20 minutes is a pretty average test drive time, and one hour is considered an incredibly long test drive. There are many things you want to get a feel for when you are test-driving a car, from the placement of buttons to the feel of acceleration and braking. A car is something you will be paying a significant amount of cash for, so it is worth knowing that you will love it.

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Getting a truly extended test drive

If you are planning on buying a vehicle that is less than five years old, you have an option for test-driving that will cost you just $10 to $30. Rent the vehicle. Car rental, even for one day, gives you a full 24 hours with the vehicle and a chance to truly try it out. Rental gives you a feel for how you drive in the vehicle, the adjustments that are available and even how the radio controls work. You can settle in to the vehicle and truly give it a try.

Finding the vehicle you want

Once you have done your research and have a good idea for what kind of vehicle you would like, you will need to do some research to find out if that vehicle is available for rental. Each rental company has a different relationship with vehicle manufacturers, so you should be able to rent different vehicles with each rental company. For example, about 20 percent of Toyota vehicles sold new in the United States became rental cars in January of 2012. Most rental car websites will not give you an exact vehicle make and model while you are reserving online, so call the location you wish to rent from. Airport rental locations usually have a better selection but are more expensive than in-town locations. Keep in mind that many model years are similar, so you may be able to rent a 2010 model and get a good feel for the 2009 model of the same car.

Keep rental sales in mind

It is also worth considering the fact that many car rental companies sell their used cars themselves. These rental-used cars are often very well maintained and could be a great value for your car-buying dollars. Call a rental agency and ask about their used sales, and they will forward you to the right place.


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