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How Old To Test Drive A Car? Understanding The Age Requirements

Discover how old to test drive a car, dealership policies, and expert tips for a successful car test drive. Navigate the road to your next vehicle with confidence!

Author:Karan Emery
Reviewer:Frazer Pugh
Dec 10, 2023
Test driving a car is an exciting and crucial step in the process of purchasing a vehicle. However, there are age-related regulations and considerations that vary depending on the location and the policies of individual dealerships. So, how old to test drive a car?
It's helpful to know if there are any limitations or prerequisites for test-driving an automobile, whether you're just inquiring or you have a youngster who is excited to obtain their own car. Thus, we felt free to look into a few more topics, such the legal age for car tests and more.
The age at which you can take an automobile test or whether you need a license or learner's permit are two of the few strict regulations. The remainder is up to the individual dealership you are visiting, provided you are of legal driving age in your area.
As a general guideline, you can just visit the dealership's website to see if there is any information available for test drives. To save a trip, you may also always give them a call in advance to find out their precise needs.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the how old to test drive a car, addressing the legal aspects, dealership policies, and the responsibilities of both prospective drivers and car sellers.
Unfortunately, the question of "How old do you have to be to test drive a car?" has no easy response. But one thing is certain:. you need to be accompanied by a certified adult and have a valid driver's license or learner's permit in order to drive any vehicle on a public road. Things become a little more tricky from here.
First off, aside from state regulations for a driver's license, no laws specify a minimum age for test driving a car. Second, a dealership determines the minimum age required for a test drive.
If the dealer is a part of a chain, these standards might be set by corporate policy; otherwise, they might be set locally if the dealership is a single site operation. In certain cases, age restrictions might even be set at the manager's or salesperson's discretion. Put differently, don't be shocked if you interact with many sellers and discover that they have varied criteria.

The Ideal Age For Test Drives Is 18

Many dealers will let people as young as 18 do a test drive. There are two reasons why this age limit matters.
In the majority of states, individuals who turn 18 are eligible for an unrestricted driver's license. This indicates that there are no restrictions on who can drive, where they can drive, or when they can get in the car.
No state has an upper age limit of 18 for obtaining an unrestricted license, however several permit full licensing to be obtained by younger drivers.
A dealer need the buyer to be able to legally purchase a car if you're looking for one on your own. In most states, a person under the age of eighteen (a minor) is not allowed to sign a contract for non-essential things. Essential goods and services include things like food, clothing, and housing.
Therefore, a minor is not capable of contracting for a car. To put it plainly, the dealership doesn't want you test-driving one of their cars if you can't legally purchase it. Furthermore, the contract may be void if a minor does purchase an automobile. For information particular to your state, see an attorney.
A girl holding car keys while sitting in car giving a thumbs up
A girl holding car keys while sitting in car giving a thumbs up

Test Drive Age Limits In Different States

Is it necessary to be eighteen years old to take an automobile test?
No, is the response. Certain states permit 16-year-olds to operate a vehicle, and even in states where a driver's license is required, company representatives are not always exempt from the age restriction.
With parental supervision, a person can obtain a learner's permit at age 16 and pass the driving test before turning 17 years old.
  • Nevertheless, certain states, like as New York, do not grant this privilege until an individual reaches the age of 18, without any exclusions.
  • In Colorado, a motorist under the age of seventeen is only permitted to operate a vehicle during supervised practice sessions, during which a driver over the age of twenty-one presents a logbook detailing the dates of these drives.
  • In Illinois, some parents decide to take matters into their own hands and let their kids drive when they go for a drive around town, giving them the opportunity to try out various automobiles.
  • There are numerous options for people to learn how to drive a car without having to wait until they are eighteen or older, so it is crucial that you are aware of your state's rules before getting started.
  • A person under the age of eighteen is considered a minor in California. Applications from minors (s) for a DL or any modification to their DL class must be signed by their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). If there is shared custody, both parents or guardians are required to sign.

Dealership Policies For Test Driving A Car

Dealership policies regarding test drives can vary, reflecting the diverse considerations that influence their decision-making processes. Several key factors shape these policies:

Insurance Considerations

One of the primary factors influencing dealership policies is insurance. Dealerships typically carry insurance that covers test drives, but this coverage may be influenced by the age of the driver. Younger drivers, perceived as higher liability risks, may encounter age-related restrictions on test drives.

Liability Concerns

Liability is a paramount consideration for dealerships. The potential risks associated with test drives, such as accidents or damage to the vehicle, prompt dealerships to establish policies that mitigate these liabilities. Age, experience, and licensing status may play roles in determining a prospective driver's eligibility for a test drive.

Type Of Vehicles Available

The nature of the vehicles available for test drives can also impact dealership policies. For high-performance or specialty vehicles, dealerships may impose stricter age-related restrictions to ensure that individuals testing these cars possess the necessary skills and experience.

Accompanied Test Drives

To accommodate individuals below the legal driving age or those with learner's permits, dealerships often offer accompanied test drives. This involves a licensed adult, usually a parent or guardian, accompanying the prospective driver during the test drive. Accompanied test drives not only comply with legal requirements but also provide an additional layer of supervision and guidance.

Responsibilities Of Prospective Drivers

While dealerships set the policies, prospective drivers also carry certain responsibilities to ensure a positive and responsible test-driving experience. Understanding and adhering to these responsibilities is crucial.

Possess A Valid Driver's License

Prospective drivers must possess a valid driver's license to be eligible for a test drive. Dealerships typically require a copy of the driver's license before allowing individuals to test drive a car.

Understand Accompanied Test Drive Requirements

For individuals below the legal driving age or those with learner's permits, understanding the requirements for accompanied test drives is essential. Dealerships may specify the conditions under which such test drives can occur.

Respect Dealer Policies

Respecting and adhering to dealership policies is a key responsibility. This includes understanding age-related restrictions, insurance considerations, and any other guidelines set by the dealership.

Provide Necessary Documentation

Prospective drivers should come prepared with the necessary documentation. This may include a copy of their driver's license or learner's permit, proof of insurance, and any other documentation requested by the dealership.

Communicate Effectively

Clear communication with dealership staff is essential. Prospective drivers should express any concerns, ask questions about the test driving process, and seek clarification on dealership policies to ensure a smooth and transparent experience.
A person giving car keys to another person sitting in car
A person giving car keys to another person sitting in car

Tips For A Successful Car Test Drive

Embarking on a test drive is a crucial step in the journey toward purchasing a new car. Whether you're a seasoned driver or a first-time car buyer, maximizing the test drive experience involves more than just turning the key. This comprehensive guide provides essential tips to ensure a successful and insightful test drive, regardless of age or driving experience.

Research Beforehand

Before setting foot in a dealership, conduct thorough research on the make and model you're interested in. Familiarize yourself with the car's specifications, features, and performance. This knowledge provides a foundation for specific points to focus on during the test drive.

Schedule An Appointment

To make the most of your test drive, contact the dealership in advance to schedule an appointment. This ensures that the vehicle you want to test drive is available, and the dealership staff can dedicate time to assist you properly.

Bring Necessary Documents

Ensure you have the necessary documents for the test drive. A valid driver's license is typically required, and some dealerships may request additional documentation, such as proof of insurance. Being prepared with these documents expedites the process.

Ask Questions

Don't hesitate to ask questions about the vehicle. Inquire about its maintenance history, features, warranty, and any specific concerns you may have. A test drive is not just about the feel of the car but also an opportunity to gather essential information.

Evaluate Comfort And Fit

Once inside the car, take the time to evaluate comfort and fit. Adjust the seats, steering wheel, and mirrors to ensure an optimal driving position. Consider factors such as visibility and ease of access, as these contribute to your overall driving experience.

Test Different Driving Conditions

If possible, test the vehicle in various driving conditions. This could include city driving, highway speeds, and parking maneuvers. Testing the car in diverse scenarios provides a comprehensive evaluation of its performance and handling.

Listen For Unusual Sounds

Pay attention to any unusual sounds or vibrations during the test drive. These could be indicators of potential issues that may need further inspection. A quiet and smooth ride is generally indicative of a well-maintained vehicle.

Test The Technology

Explore and test the vehicle's technology features, including infotainment systems, connectivity options, and safety features. Ensure that everything is intuitive and aligns with your preferences. Testing the technology features provides insights into the car's overall convenience.

Evaluate Handling And Performance

Assess the car's handling and performance characteristics. Take note of how it accelerates, brakes, and handles corners. Pay attention to the responsiveness of the steering and the overall driving dynamics. This information is crucial for determining how well the car aligns with your driving preferences.

Check For Comfort And Visibility For Passengers

If you often have passengers, consider their comfort and visibility. Test the rear seats and assess the overall cabin space. Ensuring the comfort of all occupants contributes to the overall satisfaction with the vehicle.
By incorporating these tips into your test drive experience, you can make informed decisions about the suitability of a car for your needs. Regardless of age or driving experience, a successful test drive is about more than just driving; it's about understanding how well the vehicle aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and expectations. Take the time to engage with the test drive process actively, and you'll be better equipped to navigate the road to your ideal car.

How Old To Test Drive A Car? - FAQs

Some dealerships may allow accompanied test drives for individuals below the legal driving age, with a licensed adult present in the car.

Is A Driver's License Required For A Test Drive?

Yes, a valid driver's license is typically required for test-driving a car. Dealerships may request a copy of your license before allowing a test drive.

How Can One Make The Most Of A Test Driving Experience?

Making the most of a test drive involves researching the vehicle, scheduling an appointment, bringing necessary documents, asking questions, and testing different driving conditions.
Younger individuals should be aware of accompanied test drive requirements and respect dealership policies. Clear communication with dealership staff is essential.

Are There International Differences In Test Driving Regulations?

Yes, international differences exist, and the legal driving age varies by country. It's crucial to be aware of and adhere to regional regulations.

Can Test Drives Be Done Without Scheduling An Appointment?

While some dealerships may accommodate walk-in test drives, it is advisable to schedule an appointment to ensure the availability of the desired vehicle and assistance from dealership staff.


How old to test drive a car? Test driving a car is a crucial step in the car-buying process, allowing individuals to assess the vehicle's performance, comfort, and features. While legal driving age requirements and dealership policies set the framework for test drives, prospective drivers play a key role in ensuring a positive and informative experience.
Being well-prepared, respectful of policies, and actively engaging with the test drive process enhances the likelihood of making an informed decision when selecting a vehicle. By understanding the nuances of test-driving regulations and approaching the experience responsibly, individuals of all ages can navigate the car-buying journey with confidence and satisfaction.
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Karan Emery

Karan Emery

Karan Emery, an accomplished researcher and leader in health sciences, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals, brings over two decades of experience to the table. Holding a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Stanford University, Karan's credentials underscore her authority in the field. With a track record of groundbreaking research and numerous peer-reviewed publications in prestigious journals, Karan's expertise is widely recognized in the scientific community. Her writing style is characterized by its clarity and meticulous attention to detail, making complex scientific concepts accessible to a broad audience. Apart from her professional endeavors, Karan enjoys cooking, learning about different cultures and languages, watching documentaries, and visiting historical landmarks. Committed to advancing knowledge and improving health outcomes, Karan Emery continues to make significant contributions to the fields of health, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals.
Frazer Pugh

Frazer Pugh

Frazer Pugh is a distinguished expert in finance and business, boasting over 6 years of experience. Holding an MBA in Finance from Stanford University, Frazer's credentials underscore his authority and expertise in the field. With a successful track record in executive roles and as a published author of influential articles on financial strategy, his insights are both deep and practical. Beyond his professional life, Frazer is an avid traveler and culinary enthusiast, drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and cuisines. His commitment to delivering trustworthy analysis and actionable advice reflects his dedication to shaping the world of finance and business, making a significant impact through his work.
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