How Old Do You Have to Be to Test Drive a Car?  

You’re walking into a car dealership and want to take a car for a test drive. But are you old enough? If you are 18 and have a valid driver’s license, then you’re old enough to get behind the wheel of a new or used vehicle for a test drive in most cases.

Read on to find out more about test drives.   

How Old Do You Have to Be to Test Drive a Car

What Is a Test Drive?  

Test driving a vehicle is a key step in the car-buying process. Once you find a car you’re interested in buying, the owner or car dealer will let you test-drive the vehicle. Usually, the seller of the vehicle will go with you on the test drive.

Often, the prospective buyer will ride with the seller driving for a few miles, and then the seller will let you drive back to the car dealership.  

Why Do You Need to Test Drive a Car? 

You may see your dream car, truck, or SUV online and feel sure you want to buy it. Don’t make that decision without taking it for a test drive. You need to test drive any vehicle you might buy before agreeing to make the purchase. Here’s why:  


The test drive starts the minute you’re seeing the car in person. Inspect the body, looking for any dents, cracks, rust, or scratches. Look for any damage to the windshield and check the tires for wear. Make sure the lights and turn signals work.   


Sit in the car to see how comfortable the seats are. Start the car to see how the engine runs. Is there any rattling or whining that could indicate problems? Test out the air conditioner, heater, and radio to make sure they’re in good working order. Check the dashboard to make sure the gauges work.  

Street Driving 

Make sure part of the test drive includes stop-and-go driving in the city. Notice how the vehicle performs in turns and how it handles potholes. Listen for squealing when you slow down, which can indicate worn brakes.   

Highway Driving 

Another part of your test drive should be on a highway where you can drive 55 miles per hour or faster. Does the car or truck accelerate smoothly? Try changing lanes to see if there are any blind spots.   

At What Age Can You Test Drive a Car?  

If you are 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license, you’re old enough to test drive a car in most cases. Most of the time, a salesperson will go with you on the test drive to see if you have any questions and tell you more about the car.  

Teen drivers younger than 18 can usually test drive a car if they have a valid driver’s license and a parent or guardian along.  

Some car dealers, particularly those who sell luxury cars, will let some potential buyers test-drive a vehicle alone or let them drive the car for a few days. Typically, those buyers must be older than 21.  

How Old Do You Have to Be to Test Drive a Car

How Old to Test Drive a Tesla? 

Driving a Tesla is an experience beyond the normal test drive. Since some Tesla models can cost as much as $200,000 or more, a Tesla dealership may ask you about your finances to pre-qualify you as a potential buyer before a test drive. Usually, someone must be 21 or older to test drive a Tesla.   

What Else Is Required to Test Drive a Car? 

There’s more required to test drive a car than just showing up at the car dealership. You’ll likely have to provide these documents and details before test-driving a car.   


You will need to show proof that you are 18 years old or older before you can test drive a car. Some dealers may require drivers to be 21 before going on a test drive, particularly one in which the potential buyer takes the car for a drive without the salesperson or keeps the car for several days. 

Driver’s License 

You will need to show your driver’s license to the car salesperson, who will likely make a copy of it before going on the test drive. This will prove that you are a licensed driver and that you are 18 or older.   

Car Insurance 

The car dealer may ask for insurance information on your current car, since, if an accident were to occur on the test drive, that insurance would cover any damages you caused.  

Financial Information 

Before a car salesperson takes you on a test drive, you will likely be asked financial questions to ensure you are qualified to purchase a car.  

Test Drive FAQs  

You may have more questions about the test-driving process. The answers to these frequently asked questions may give you the information you need. 

Can a 16-year-old test drive a car with a parent? 

Yes. While a 16-year-old is old enough to get a driver’s license, most car dealers will require a parent or guardian to come along.  

Can you test drive a car without buying it?  

Since test driving a car is an essential part of a car-buying decision, plenty of people decide not to buy a car after an unsatisfactory test drive.  

Can you test drive a car with a permit?  

Since you’re required to have a licensed driver with you while driving when you have a learner’s permit, you could test drive a car if you have the car salesperson with you during the test drive.  

Can you test drive a car overnight?  

The answer depends on the car dealer. Some dealers will let potential buyers take a car home over the weekend to try it out. Usually, potential buyers must be older than 18 and maybe older than 21.  

How many times can you test drive a car? 

Test driving a car once is the norm, and you can likely test drive a car a second time as part of the buying process. 

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Author: Dave Johnston

Dave Junior is a hands-on automotive technician with experience in performing service, diagnostics, and repairs on domestic and imported vehicles. He enjoys writing and sharing his knowledge far and wide.

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