Can You Test Drive a Car Without Tax?

Car tax is vehicle excise duty. This is a running cost for your car that must be paid on almost all vehicles either registered in the UK, driven in the UK, or kept on a public road.

Driving a car without tax in the UK is illegal and will lead to a fine. The DVLA also has the right to clamp any untaxed vehicles they detect.

So if it’s illegal to drive without car tax, can you test drive a car without tax? Or will you have to sort out car tax before you take that test drive?

Can You Test Drive a Car Without Tax?

In the UK, cars are taxed at the point of sale. You’ll only have to pay the tax on the car when you buy it. As the current registered keeper, it’s up to the seller to ensure that the car is taxed before you take it for a spin.

If you’re buying a brand-new car or a second-hand car from a dealership, then you can usually rest assured that they’ll take care of the car tax before they let you drive the car. Should you decide to buy the car, they’ll also help you sort out the tax before you drive home.

But if you’re buying a car from a private seller, it’s important to ensure that the car’s taxed before you go for that test-drive.

How to Ensure a Car is Taxed Before Your Test Drive

To begin with, you can ask the seller if the car’s taxed. In most cases, it probably will be. But if they’re selling an old car, it might have been off-road for some time. In which case, it might not be taxed.

The seller might be reluctant to tax a car they intend to sell. However, it is illegal to drive a car without tax, even for a short test drive. A test drive can often make all the difference in whether or not you choose to buy a car. So unless the seller can find someone willing to buy on sight then they’ll need to tax it first!

For various reasons, a seller might claim a car’s taxed when it isn’t. So with any car you intend to buy, first enter the vehicle’s registration in the government’s car tax database. This will give you a clear answer as to whether or not the car’s taxed.

If the car’s not taxed and the seller insists it is, then you may decide not to proceed with that particular seller.

Can You Test Drive A Car Without Insurance?

So you cannot test drive a car without car tax. It’s also illegal to drive a car at any time without at least third party car insurance cover.

As the registered keeper, it’s the seller’s responsibility to sort out the car tax for your test drive. But it might be up to you to sort out the car insurance for your test drive.

Find out more about taxing a car without insurance here.

When Should I Pay Car Tax and Car Insurance?

As we mentioned above, you’ll only pay for your car tax when you agree to purchase a car. At this point, you’ll become the car’s new registered keeper, and you’ll have to sort out your tax before you can legally drive the car.

You’ll also have to sort out car insurance cover before you can legally drive your new car.

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