Car dealers’ tips for test drives during social distancing

Dealership showrooms are now open – which is great news if you’re looking for a new car or due to renew your lease! Following the COVID-19 pandemic you may find things are a bit different than you’ve been used to. We spoke to some dealers to get their tips on booking and undertaking test drives with the current social distancing measure in place. Read more below.

The importance of test drives

Before deciding on a car it’s very important that you test drive it, even in the current climate. A test drive is the best way to find out properly whether a car is right for you and your dealer will be more than happy to arrange this. Even if you are not going to be driving yourself, you need to make sure the car is comfortable and suits your needs. Dealerships are still offering test drives but with new measures in place.


All dealerships have introduced strict rules on cleaning and disinfecting vehicles; this includes wiping down key parts of the car, such as the driver’s door handle, steering wheel, gear stick and controls to ensure that there’s minimal risk of infection.

Some dealership groups, such as Group 1, Motorline, and Snows even leave the car for a window of 24 hours after it’s been sanitised  as extra protection against the risk of contamination.

Dealer test drive tips

We spoke to different dealership groups, across the country, to give you examples of some of the steps they have put in place to make test drives possible. As this varies from dealership to dealership, when you contact your dealer to make an appointment you can ask them about the specific measures they have put in place.

Toomey Vauxhall

In the video below Gary Rumsby, from Toomey in Essex, explains the social distancing measures at his dealership as well as how they are conducting test drives. Watch the video for more information:


Gary explains:

“The test drives are pre-booked. The reason for this is to ensure that we can clean the vehicle thoroughly before people drive it. Currently, the customer goes out in the vehicle alone, on a pre-set drive route. They are placed on our insurance. That’s how we’re doing it here, but you should contact your local dealership to find out how they’re doing it.”

Pentagon Group

The Motability Scheme specialist for the Pentagon Group will join the customer on the test drive, however they will sit in the back of the vehicle and will be wearing a mask to adhere to social distancing rules. Plus, they’ll ensure that the vehicle is well ventilated and, of course, that the car is thoroughly cleaned down before and after the test drive.

Click here to watch our video with Pentagon Vauxhall’s Motability Scheme specialist, Jonathan. Jonathan gives advice on how to minimise delays when choosing a car, and explains how dealers are getting customers’ cars ready for COVID-safe handovers.   

Glyn Hopkin

Glyn Hopkin have a pre-test drive route at each of their dealerships. Customers are welcome to undertake the test drive unaccompanied. Alternatively, if the customer wanted the dealer to go with them on the test drive, then the dealer will sit in the rear of the car on the opposite side to the driver, with the window open and face mask on. 

Did you know?

If your lease was automatically extended due to the COVID-19 situation, you don’t have to wait to order your next car. You can actually place your next order at any point during your lease extension.

If you have been waiting to visit a dealership before ordering your next car on the Scheme, it is well worth speaking to your dealer now to book an appointment. Dealers are very busy after reopening and appointments are likely to be limited due to ongoing social distancing measures.

Dealerships in Northern Ireland

Test drives have recommenced in Northern Ireland but are currently strictly by appointment only. So, make sure to book with your dealership before your visit, most dealerships in Northern Ireland can accommodate you if you book on the same day.

Test drives are currently accompanied, with the dealer riding in the backseat of the vehicle.

Find a dealer near you

There are around 4,500 Motability Scheme dealerships across the UK, each with specialists on hand to give you expert help and advice. Please click here to find details of your local Motability Scheme dealers along with their opening hours. With current social distancing measures in place, before visiting the dealership you must contact them to make an appointment to see their Scheme specialist. This will also mean they will be able to dedicate enough time to help you find the right car.

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