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Gas prices force dealerships to charge for test drives

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WEST SACRAMENTO (by Sabrina Rodriguez) gas station

At Sacramento Auto Sales Center in West Sacramento they’re all about quality vehicles.

“We only work with clean title vehicles,” said vice president Alex Mehmood.

Lately customers are looking for fuel efficient, economy sized vehicles; take one look at gas prices lately and it’s not hard to see why.

While those prices are affecting the buyer they’re also hurting car dealers like Mehmood in a way that’s necessary to sell cars.

“They’re going out for numerous test drives,” he explained, “We would have some customers come in every single day, or every other day wanting to test drive.”

Now, because of the gas prices, before a buyer can even get the keys to test drive that vehicle a lot of dealerships are imposing new requirements like having to pre-qualify for a loan or if the vehicle is being taken for inspection it has to be returned with the same amount of gas it left with. Those new requirements ensures the buyer is serious and can afford the vehicle.

While that sounds excessive Mehmood points out, “We have to pay for all the gas and when you have 70 to 80 different cars it gets real expensive.”

At $45 for just one fill-up that’s at least $3,150.

That amount goes up even more since most people who test drive don’t buy the car, which mean more fill-ups and lost money for the dealership.

However, it’s the price Mehmood pays for customer satisfaction, “I’ll go out of my way, whatever we have to do, I want to get them into a vehicle.”

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