Higher gas prices force changes to test drives

Published On: Feb 20 2013 06:12:30 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 20 2013 06:14:21 AM EST

When shopping for a new car, test drives are the best way to get a feel for whether or not that Toyota Prius really does get 50 miles per gallon, or if  the Chevrolet Camaro can really go from zero to sixty in just four seconds.

But as gas prices continue to stay high, dealerships are rethinking their test drive policies.

In California, many dealerships are imposing new requirements before a buyer can get the keys. That includes having to pre-qualify for a loan or ensuring that the vehicle is brought back from the test drive with the same amount of gas as when it left the lot.

Dealers argue that these requirements are necessary because of the cost to refuel vehicles after test drives. If a dealer tops off 50 cars at $40 for each fill-up, that adds up to $2,000.

The cost goes up even higher every time someone test drives a vehicle, and then leaves without buying one.

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