Industry experts say you can't be sure what you'll get if you don't test drive (Photo : Flickr)
A Maritz Research study found that a significant portion of the car-buying public no longer bothers with a test drive.
The research company surveyed 80,291 buyers of 2012 cars and found that 11.4 percent of them didn't test drive their cars before they bought them. Car buyers rely more and more on the internet to find out everything they think they need to know about a car.
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Even those who do take a test drive utilize the internet; the study found that 9.5 percent of the buyers scheduled their test drives online, up from 7.4 percent in 2010.
Auto experts, market researchers, and dealers, however, do not recommend forgoing the experience of seeing for yourself how a car rides.
Chris Travell, vice president of strategic consulting at Maritz, told Inside Line that the average buyer hasn't bought a new car in 6.5 years, and much about new cars may be unfamiliar to them.
"A lot has happened in the intervening years - technology, vehicle design, ride and handling," he said.
Buyers forgoing test drives may do so out of a general feeling of intimidation when it comes to car showrooms.
"Honestly, I hate dealing with car salesman," one such buyer told the Detroit Free Press.
Automotive Addicts suggests that those who don't drive a car before buying it suffer from overconfidence in both modern technology and professional reviewers.
"We've driven brand new models fresh from a dealer lot with components loose in in the door panels, an assembly gremlin that isn't always easy to diagnose and repair," the industry website says.
The site added that "we've read reviews from the glossy magazines that left us wondering if we drove the same car. No matter how much you may trust another's opinion, yours will almost certainly differ and that can lead to long-term disappointment with a particular vehicle."
Automotive Addicts has this final piece of advice: "If you're not comfortable with the buying process, find a friend who is and take him along on your dealership visit. "