Car Salesmen Share Test Drive Horror Stories
What are some of the biggest safety rules we are taught as children? We learn not to play with matches, to look both ways before crossing the street, and not to get into cars with strangers.
That last rule must have been forgotten by most car salesmen, because getting into cars with strangers is part of their daily tasks. Going on test drives with potential buyers puts salesmen in some uncomfortable and even dangerous situations.
The page r/askcarsales on the popular social media site Reddit is an online forum that provides a platform for users to ask questions to those who work in car sales. While most questions on the forum focus on specific makes and models, some are targeted towards the everyday life of car salespeople. One specifically asks “Sales people, what are your test drive horror stories?” Here are some of their responses:
It’s Been a Few Years
“One of the things MINI is proud of is our higher than average manual transmission take rate. We're the only manufacturer in the US that offers manual transmissions on every model and we sell those [a lot]. Every salesman in my store drives a manual, we all love them.
The downside to this is you regularly have the people who come in and want to test drive a manual, even if it's been years since they drove one. No big deal, quick refresher in the back lot, and we're off.
This one couple though, both claimed it had been 4 years since they last drove a manual. It wasn't until we got out on the road that I found out that it had been 4 years since they drove AND learned how to drive a manual. Naturally we stall at a stop light on a very busy road. The MINI has auto-start-stop so every time the lady pushes the clutch in it restarts, then she hits the start button (to start it, but it's already on) and turns it back off. I'm trying to calmly explain to her what she's doing wrong but she's starting to hyper-ventilate. People are passing us on both sides now and honking as they go. She finally gets it started and keeps trying to start in 3rd gear. More hyper-ventilating. Eventually I have to walk around and swap places with her. We drive back to the store and I offer to get them an automatic to drive but they're both so embarrassed they just leave. Never saw them again.”
I Should Get a Discount Now, Right?
“Lady buys a car, last day of the month. Decides she likes the one we show her but it's too expensive because it's a higher trim level. Has us dealer trade from 300 miles away to get the same car just in a lower trim but with an appearance pack to look like the original trim. Okay cool.
Three days later calls back. Hates the car. Wants to return it. We sold her the car she wanted about $2000 below invoice. Boss doesn't want to do it but will for the right price. We show her full sticker plus $1000 on the new one and she says okay, but she wants to drive it. We are on the drive and she starts turning then slams on the brakes for no reason at all and we get hit by a bus. Not the bus drivers fault at all…lady got spooked by something and busses don't stop well.
We get back to the dealership after dealing with the police and all that and this lady has the nerve to turn to me and say “well…since it's been in an accident I should get a discount now right? I want this one for the price of the one I already bought since it's been damaged.”
If it was a cartoon my bosses' head would have turned bright red and steam would have come out. He tries to calmly explain that we can't set the precedent of people crashing our cars then getting a discount. The lady goes off about how we are scam artists trying to sell people damaged cars for full price COMPLETELY IGNORING the fact that is was her that damaged the car.”
An Engineer and His Bro
“Musclebro comes in to test a Challenger SRT-8 manual transmission we have. Says he wants a race car, and he's narrowed it down to this, a Camaro SS, or an older gen Corvette. Side note, the Corvette is the ONLY qualified vehicle in this trio for an actual race car, the others are just street muscle that won't completely die on track.
So we go on a short drive, everything's pleasant. Says he likes the car, but he's gotta come back with his “race engineer” to confirm it works for him.
He and the “race engineer” come back in the evening, they want to take it out themselves.
“Sorry, I need to accompany you both. I'll sit in the back.”
“We prefer to go alone.”
“And we prefer to not have a $30k muscle car driven out of our sight by people who have explicitly said they are buying this to race.”
They begrudgingly accept the terms and we go for another calm drive. “Race engineer” pulls into a parking lot, they pop the hood and look around for mods or whatever. We pile back in the car and immediately I know where this is going…”race engineer” revs to redline, dumps the clutch and cranks the wheel. I was already anticipating so I didn't have my seatbelt on, I jumped between the front seats and cranked the shifter into neutral.
They both exclaim angrily, demanding to know what I'm doing, while I do the exact same thing to them. “Race Engineer” claims they needed to see the grip and how much it took to “break 'er loose”. I told them that before spending another minute “test driving” I needed a signed credit application and agreement to buy. They tried to continue the test drive. I let them know that our dealership was very friendly with the police station 1/8 mile from our store and I had their non-emergency line on my speed dial, but I'd be happy to dial 911 if they felt like kidnapping me.
I did not sell the car to them. I did, however, sell it to a nice Mexican-American family who drove up from TX to buy it.”
“so many… start with a quick one.
Jeep wrangler unlimited. Younger girl super excited. I do all my walk arounds and just have her begging me for the car. Being a “jeeper” myself, it tends to be my strength… we get her in the box before we even do the test drive… she has signed the deal and we are hugging in the showroom because she is so happy. at this point i say, you haven't even driven the car yet, let’s take it for a rip and by the time we get back we'll have delivery set up for you!
We get a km down the road and she has a brain fart and forgets it's a stick. stalled and the car behind us doesn't notice (no brake lights and at a stop in an intersection) SMASH!… luckily a Jeep is tough. though the civic was most definitely a write-off, the Jeep seems pretty clean (trailer tow package for the win).
After a couple hours of police reporting and checking things out, we eventually get back to the dealership…….
Bank decline… no chance of approval due to current collections. No hope of co-signer.”
One Way to Handle Poor Credit
“When a guy was driving, pulled over on side of interstate, pulled out a revolver and told me to get out. Think he had credit issues …They did catch the guy though. He went to a store down the road the next day and tried the same [thing]”
Car salesmen sometimes get a bad rap and need more recognition for what they go through to get sales. They regularly have to get into the back seat of a car being operated by someone they just met who is unfamiliar with the car they are driving. Keep these in mind and try not to be “that customer” on your next test drive.