Using temporary insurance to test drive a car

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What is a test drive?
Temporary insurance
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Test drive tips

Getting a new car is exciting, but it can also be a stressful time - especially if it’s your first car. You want to buy the best vehicle you can, and don’t want to make a costly mistake. Many car buyers get taken for a ride (pun very much intended!) by sellers wanting to make a quick deal, so it pays to do your homework. A big part of that is the test drive.

Here’s our top tips on finding insurance for the drive and what to look out for when driving the car 👇

What is a test drive?

A test drive is your opportunity to check how your chosen car handles and whether it’s right for you. It should highlight any underlying issues, as many problems, such as clutch or brake faults, only become noticeable when the vehicle is driven. A test drive also allows the seller to show the car off and demonstrate its full capabilities.

Before you spend your hard-earned money, a test drive should show you whether you’re making the right decision. You don’t want to drive home in your new vehicle only to discover a fault that could leave you out of pocket.

If you’re buying from a dealership, a standard test drive involves a 30-minute drive around a set route, with the salesman accompanying you. Some dealers may offer you the vehicle for a longer period, even a day or week. If you’re buying privately from the car owner, the test drive is up to you both.

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Do I need temporary car insurance for a test drive?

Yes, you do!

Whatever form your drive takes, whether it’s a private sale or buying from a professional dealer, you must have the correct test drive insurance cover in place. Flexible temporary car insurance is perfect in this situation, with policies from just one hour.

Temporary car insurance from Cuvva provides comprehensive cover, paying out for damage to your car or others, as well as injuries to yourself or others, even if you were at-fault. You’re also covered for fire and theft.

Talked the seller into an even-longer test drive and need more time? You can instantly extend your policy in the app, or even change it to drive away car insurance if you complete the purchase after the drive and need to take it home. Drive away insurance gives you a little more time to find a longer policy for your new car.

Take someone knowledgeable on your driving test if you can
Take someone knowledgeable on your driving test if you can
Bonus reading 📚
Our complete guide to buying your first car Read on

How do I take out temporary car insurance for a test drive?

Cuvva’s 1-hour insurance is perfect for a test drive. Designed to be quick, affordable and easy to set up, there are no annoying credit checks or deposits - just pay and drive!

To get temporary car insurance for a test drive:

  • Download the Cuvva app
  • Enter the registration plate of the vehicle and confirm the details
  • Choose the right policy length (one hour is perfect)
  • Take a photo of the car
  • Pay and you’re ready to go!
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Test drive tips

Don’t act hastily and rush into a purchase before you’re sure it’s the car for you. This is even more important if you’re buying your first car after passing your driving test. It’s easy to get pulled in by a clever sales pitch, so be sensible, take your time and check the vehicle thoroughly.

Here are some ideas of what to look for when taking a vehicle for a test drive.

Getting in

First, check how easily the car locks and unlocks with every door plus the boot. Make sure the doors open wide enough, especially if you have a child’s car seat to get in and out regularly. Is there enough boot space for shopping, or is there enough room in a hatchback for your dogs, say?

Interior check

Once you’re in the driving seat, take time to look around the interior. Can you move the seat easily into a comfortable position? Can you see the dashboard and the instrument panel without stretching, and is there enough space for your feet around the pedals? Does the seatbelt click closed and remain secure?

There’s a lot to keep an eye on during the test drive
There’s a lot to keep an eye on during the test drive

Start the engine

Ideally, you want to start the car from cold. An engine that’s already warm can hide a multitude of problems, and a cold start will allow you to see if the battery is good. Listen for any strange noises and check the idling revs are steady. Use the mirror to see if there’s excessive smoke coming from the exhaust as you pull away.


Don’t worry too much if the brakes need to be applied a couple of times initially; if the car has been on the forecourt for a while, it can take a moment to clear any surface rust and get them performing correctly. However, they should be fine after this, and if they still feel spongy or weak after five minutes, they are unlikely to improve.

When you reach a safe place, warn any passengers and perform an emergency stop - remember that from your driving test? The car should come to a controlled stop in a straight line. Any veering in either direction may indicate an issue with the suspension, brakes or tyre pressure.


With the car stationary, turn the wheels from full lock to full lock. You might notice a little noise from the power steering pump, but there shouldn’t be any alarming grinding sounds or anything from the suspension. Driving along, the steering wheel should turn smoothly, without any vibration, and remain wobble-free while braking and accelerating. If any wobbles are present, they may show that the vehicle has problems with the tyres, steering or suspension.

Wheel bearings

Listen out for a humming sound when you’re taking corners at a faster speed. You might only hear it cornering in one direction, so be aware on both left and right-hand bends. This noise may indicate wheel bearing problems, and if the humming changes pitch, the bearings need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Changing gear

As part of the test drive, it’s essential to take note of your gear changes. Change gear up and down through the cycle, and give block changing a go. Does the car change gear smoothly, without any crunching or strange noises? Does the clutch slip, or does it feel reliable and firm? If the clutch doesn’t ‘bite’ until almost at the top, you may need a new clutch.

Electric vehicles

If you’re test driving an electric vehicle (EV), it’s best to keep the car for at least 24 hours. This allows you to fully check the charging time and how far you can travel on a single charge. Many newer EVs claim they can do over 200 miles between charges, but if it’s a cold day requiring the heating and headlights to be on or you are carrying several passengers, you’ll run out of energy sooner.

Buying a new car can be fun, but by knowing what you’re looking for, you’re also making a wise investment.

Need test drive or drive away insurance? It only takes a few minutes to get a quote.

Updated on 3rd April 2023