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What to know before people test drive your car

03 September 2019

If you have decided to sell your car through a private sale, once you have advertised the car and received your roadworthy certificate, potential buyers will want to take your car for a test drive.

Test drives are a perfectly normal part of the process and something you should allow, but are not compulsory. There are a few things you should be wary of before handing your keys over to a perfect stranger and potential buyer.


When selling your car, don’t think of the vehicle as just an object or machine. When you are selling your car, you are selling a lifestyle and something that someone else is going to use a lot.

Be polite, be courteous and above all else, be honest. Not only will this help you sell the car, but it can help you avoid legal problems in the future if you have misled the buyer.

Clean it out

Think of your car as a mini home – make sure it is nice and tidy before inviting people over. Make sure that the carpets are vacuumed, the surfaces are clean and the windows are wiped.

If you are one who smokes in their car, try to remove as much of the smell as possible. May people are quite put off by the smell of cigarette smoke and will instantly pass on buying your car because of the smell.

You may also want to remove bulky items such as child seats to help the buyer see all of the car – unless they too have a child and would like a demonstration.

For detailed advice on how to clean your car, check out our video series on How to Wash Your Car at Home.

Contact your insurer

Before inviting buyers over to test drive your vehicle, speak to your insurance provider and find out if you are covered in the event of an accident with someone else behind the wheel.

Suncorp Comprehensive Insurance customers can make a claim if a buyer has an accident while test driving their vehicle for the purpose of a sale, but only if the insured person or a listed driver accompanies the potential buyer.

Speak to your insurer first and refer to your PDS for more information.

Discover Suncorp Comprehensive Car Insurance

Go along for the ride

Joining a potential buyer for their test drive is as much about insurance coverage as it is common sense.

You wouldn’t hand the keys to your car over to a stranger on the street just because they asked, and this is no exception. No matter how desperate you are to sell your car, don’t just let someone drive off with it.

If you have a friend or family member with you when the buyer came to view the vehicle, ask if the buyer would be comfortable if your chaperone joins you for the ride as well.

Driver's license details

Make sure you witness and jot down the buyer’s driver’s license details or take a photo with your phone before letting them drive your vehicle. There are a few reasons for doing this.

To begin with, you don’t want to let an unlicensed driver drive your car. Not only is it illegal, but you may not be insured in the event of an accident.

You also want to see their driver’s license to make sure they are who they say they are. Make sure you look at their photo and expiration date of the license to confirm.

Plan a route

If a buyer has come to you to test drive your car – whether that be in a mutual location or at your home, have a route planned.

When you plan the test drive with the buyer, ask what kind of driving will that person do – freeway? CBD? or suburban? Knowing what they need the car for can help you plan where to take the car for a test drive.

Letting the buyer drive in their environment will help them picture themselves owning that car – a great way to help someone over the line when making a decision about buying something.

This may also be a good opportunity to demonstrate the car’s GPS if it has it.

Anticipate their questions

If the car you are selling has some unique features that most people may not be familiar with, make sure you know the answers to their questions.

The buyer may ask ‘what does that button do?’. If your answer is “hmmm, I don’t know”, you won’t inspire a lot of confidence in the buyer about how well you have cared for the car.

If you have made any noticeable modifications to your car, make sure you are able to answer why you made those changes and how they benefit the car and add value.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision regarding this product.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.