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Around 720,000 motorists failed to test drive used car purchases in 2015

Almost a quarter of a million used car buyers may have made their purchase without taking a test drive in their chosen vehicle, research by has revealed.

Its survey of 1,000 car owners revealed that over 10% of buyers had parted with their cash without driving the car – or even starting the engine – first.

With over 7.2 million used cars sold in 2015, it means that around 720,000 people’s first drive in their new car took them home from the deal.

The survey revealed that slightly more than 10% of new car buyers also failed to take an equivalent model for a test drive. 

A spokesman for the ca buying website said: “It could mean a million motorists buy a car each year having little idea how the car performs or even if it has problems, which could plague them later on down the road.”

The average cost of a used car is £6,000 in the UK and new car prices average £17,500. calculated that, during 2015, over £8.7 billion worth of cars were sold to motorists who had little or no idea what it was like to drive the car before they bought it, whether it had mechanical problems or if it was suited to their needs.

The trend was attributed to a lack of confidence on the customer’s part with one-in-three car buyers surveyed stating that they were not confident or would know what to look for if they did test drive a car.

And while 15% of those surveyed who went on a test drive took a friend or family member, only 7% took someone who ‘knew’ about cars and less than 5% took a motor ‘expert’. 

Rich Evans, Head of Technical Services for, said: “The most surprising finding from the survey is the significant number of people who didn’t know what to look for in a test drive or have the confidence to take one.

“There are some simple checks everyone should make which could save them money in the long run.”

In response to its findings has produced a video to help customers gain confidence in taking a test drive and what to look out for. 

It starts with a stark warning: ‘make sure insurance is in place.’  20% of people surveyed who actually took a test drive didn’t check out if they were insured to drive the car.

BTC’s Guy Allman recently described as car dealers “lethargy” a trend in its research which suggested that while 65% of dealership customers were offered a test drive, only 29% of those got behind the wheel.

He said: “I’ve never met a salesman who didn’t say that bums on seats sell cars, but it seems that’s not always put into practice. There’s a lethargy that’s hard to explain.”

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