Driver test-owning a car
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Test Drives Are Dead. Why Test Owning is Taking Over…

The traditional car-buying experience almost always involves a test drive. When going to a dealership lot, you will circle around a car you’re interested in until a salesperson inevitably pops out of nowhere to ask: “wanna give ‘er a spin?”

Sometimes the salesperson tags along for the test drive, talking your ear off about the car’s features while you’re just trying to figure how to adjust your seat. 

But how much can you really get out of those fleeting test drive experiences? Is it enough to properly inform your buying decision?

Let’s discuss the merits of the conventional test drive versus an alternative that is growing in popularity in the ever-evolving auto industry.

The trouble with test drives

The test drive is supposed to be a very important part of the buying decision, and yet, more than 70% of the 1,172 blog visitors surveyed say that conventional test drives do not divulge enough information.

statistic showing that over 70% of survey respondents admit they do not learn enough from a test drive

It’s true. With conventional test driving, you don’t get enough time in the car to get a truly informed experience. You drive around for 15-20 minutes; most of which you spend trying to figure out where everything is, and before you find your groove, it’s time to head back to the lot. The experience simply doesn’t reveal enough for such an important decision that you’ll have to live with for years.

Take 7 days to decide vs. 20 minutes

It may not be as familiar as a test drive, but the term ‘test own’ is trending up in auto industry vernacular. It essentially means you can buy a car on the guarantee that you can return it for any reason should you not be happy with the purchase. In other words, you can get your money back or exchange – no questions asked.  

It’s hardly any different from the normal return policy you find at most online retail stores like Amazon, it’s just taken the auto industry a longer time to adopt it. Why should a car be an exception to the rule?

Test owning is growing in popularity because it gives you so much more time to experience the car and decide if it’s right for you. You can take it on highways, cruise around the city, load it up with gear to test storage, or play with the entertainment console using your favourite apps – all things you would likely not be able to do with a 20-minute test drive.

The test-own period offers a powerful apples-to-apples comparison with your old car. Contrasted with the typically unfamiliar route taken on a test drive, the test-own period fits right into your daily life. Now you can take the car to work, to the gym, to the grocery store, to collect the kids from school—all your usual, everyday routes! 

During a test-own period, you can also perform checks on the engine or bring it to your mechanic for a professional inspection for that extra peace of mind. These options give you a greater buyer perspective, and they simply wouldn’t be available during a brief test drive. 

Test Drive vs. Test Own

Here’s a quick comparison of how much more informed you can get with a test own versus a test drive with regards to driving, exterior, interior, and under-the-hood checks.


Test Drive

(20 minutes)

Test Own

(7 days)


Typically cold startup only

Drive it on non-typical routes

Drive in the city or highway

Get introduced to the driver-assist tech

Multiple cold & warm startups

Drive it to work, to the gym, etc.

Drive in the city and highway

Get comfortable using all of the driver-assist tech


Test Drive

(20 minutes)

Test Own

(7 days)


Get a first impression of seat comfort in 20 minutes

Try to guess if there is enough cargo space with a quick eye test

Get a quick introduction to the infotainment system

Scan carpets and upholstery for stains or damage

Revise your opinion on seat comfort after days of driving

Try out the cargo space; load up with groceries, gym gear & more

Ensure that the infotainment system meets ALL your daily needs

Examine front, rear, and trunk carpets and upholstery for stains, damage, dampness, bad odours, etc


Test Drive

(20 minutes)

Test Own

(7 days)


Quick scan of the exterior for dents, scratches & rust 

Scan the tires for signs of wear

Detailed examination for dents, scratches & rust 

Inspect the tires for signs of wear and alignment issues. Check for bulges, bumps, and tread separation


Test Drive

(20 minutes)

Test Own

(7 days)

Under the Hood

Quick look for rust, leaks, frayed cables or belts 

Ask about the vehicle's fuel efficiency rating

Check all components carefully for hidden rust, leaks, frayed cables or belts 

Get firsthand experience of the vehicle's fuel consumption

Take it to a mechanic for a professional inspection

New vs pre-owned

It’s important to know that test owning is usually not an option for brand new cars, as those first kilometres on the odometer are usually the most valuable. 

And, if you’re considering buying a used car from a private seller, it makes sense that the test own option will not be available to you. It’s hard to envision a private seller giving you a week to try out their car with the option to bring it back. 

If you’re interested in test owning your next car, look for pre-owned vehicles available from dealerships and online retailers. Some will even be able to deliver the vehicle to your doorstep and pick it up if you change your mind. 

How car buyers can test own their next car

Visit Canada Drives for a massive selection of cars available online; and where test owning comes standard! Our 7-Day Love it or Return it Guarantee ensures you have enough time to make the right car-buying decision. 

Browse our large online inventory with confidence, knowing you can easily exchange or return the vehicle for your money back.

The Canada Drives Advantage

7-Day Test Own: Our 7-day “Love It or Return It” policy lets you shop until it feels right or get your money back!

Buy Online & Save: Buying online means less overhead, no dealer fees, and thus more savings for the customer.

Free Warranty Protection: Your car is covered under our no-charge 30 Day / 1,500 km warranty for added peace-of-mind.

1-Click CARFAX History Reports: Get free CARFAX reports and know the full history of what you’re buying.

150-Point Inspections: Professionally inspected vehicles that meet a high standard of quality. 

Delivered To Your Door: We’ll pick up and drop the car off for you – total convenience!

Certified Vehicles: Hundreds of SUVs, trucks, sedans, you name it – and all located near you.

Instant Quote Trade-ins: Easily find out what your trade-in is worth and include that in your shopping budget.

Shop online today!

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