Car buyers happy to ditch test drives if money-back guarantees are in place

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter
·2-min read

With car dealers back open and dealing with pent-up demand from consumers, there have been numerous adaptations to post-lockdown life.

One of the trickiest aspects of reopening has been related to test drives, because dealers can’t accompany customers in the car.

However, new research suggests that more consumers would be willing to buy a car without a test drive if they knew they could get their money back if not happy.

Car Dealer Sold
(Blackball Media)

Online car buying platform Auto Trader surveyed 1,900 people and found that while 72 per cent would not be willing to buy a car without testing it first, 62 per cent would do so if they were offered a 14-day money-back guarantee.

This is good news for dealers, with Auto Trader reporting that most retailers were trading at more than 30 per cent up on 2019 during the first week of reopening, starting April 12.

With dealerships closed during lockdown, many implemented online buying services that would allow customers to buy a new vehicle without entering the forecourt. And although most would still prefer to see the car in person, 23 per cent said they would rather an online experience.

Commenting on the research, Auto Trader’s director of data and insight, Richard Walker, said: “Based on the anecdotal feedback we’ve been receiving from many of our retailer partners over the last few weeks, the huge levels of demand we’re tracking in the market will come as little surprise.

“However, this research does highlight the opportunities for retailers to capture a greater share of demand by adapting their processes in line with evolving consumer preferences.

“Many buyers are now happy to purchase without a test drive if a money-back guarantee is in place. This is another example of the traditional barriers to buying online being removed for consumers with improved services offered by retailers.

“The old test drive format is no longer fit for purpose, with consumers demonstrating a clear preference for either unaccompanied or extended at home test drives.”