I’d like you to imagine for a moment that you’re looking for a second-hand car to buy. After establishing a price range and the criteria that are important to you, you go to a showroom. You’re in luck, they have a car that might suit you so you check the outside for obvious signs of damage, possibly open the bonnet if there’s any chance you’d recognise the things that are supposed to be there (I don’t). All good so far, and the interior doesn’t put you off so what’s the next obvious step?
A test drive
That’s a no-brainer, surely? I mean, who would spend thousands of euros on a used car without taking it out for a spin? No one I know, anyway. Advice from Autotrader and the like is that you should drive a car for at least 15 minutes before making a decision about buying it, which seems reasonable to me.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this by now but I was totally unprepared, when I asked to take a car for a test drive in Coimbra, to be told that I couldn’t take it off the forecourt because it wasn’t insured! Still baffled at this crazy notion, I went to another showroom, only to be told the same thing. All they could offer me was a spin around their car park!
How do they expect to sell cars if they won’t let potential customers drive them?
I don’t get it, I really don’t. Maybe there’s a system I don’t know about so if someone can enlighten me, please do so. I have since bought a car, from a garage that lists ‘test drive’ as one of the perks of buying from them. It was the first place I tried so I took the test drive for granted. Only after I’d shopped around a little did I realise that this doesn’t come as standard.
When I mentioned my confusion to a friend, he told me how he’d once been interested in a used car in Portugal, taken it for a short test drive in the rain and gone back another day to try it again under different conditions. Seems fair enough to me, but the dealer refused to let him out again in the car, telling him, “You’ve already had a test drive.” Needless to say, my friend didn’t buy the car.
Am I missing something here? Is this the norm in Portugal? How do people usually go about trying out a car they want to buy? I’m genuinely interested to find out so please leave a comment if you can shed any light on the situation.