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Is it normal for a car dealer not to allow a test drive until a deposit has been paid?

I'm three hours drive from a dealer selling a car that my son wants. I contacted the dealer and he said we can't test drive the car unless we buy it by putting down a £500 deposit. Apparently they wont be insured if something goes wrong on the test drive, but they will only carry out their checks and make necessary repairs once the £500 deposit has been paid. In my mind, I could pay, but they could find a whole host of problems once they get it up on the ramp. If we find the car to be mechanically at fault then our deposit will be refunded, but not if we don't like it or change our mind. I was told the price is non-negotiable as they are all at trade price. Does this sound like usual practice? I've never come across sales like this before, but maybe I'm just out of touch with how car dealers operate.

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If you don't like the deal proposed by this particular dealer, then exercise your right to go elsewhere. But I'd guess you do like the deal because I'd guess you have not been able to find a similar car for less money. Car dealers will tell you any old cobblers they want and if a car seems cheap buyers put their sensible instincts on hold and allow themselves to be persuaded.

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