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Concerns about Test Drive

My daughter and I test drove a Mazda CX-5 yesterday. We had a new sales person who did not know anything about the car. My daughter is about to turn 16, and does not know anything about cars. She was driving. I was in the passenger seat. We put it in gear, but it was in M (very hard to understand the gear shift of this car). The engine sounded just horrible the whole time, and I kept commenting, but the salesperson didn’t know what the trouble was, and I wasn’t driving, so I could not see the RPM’s. When we got back to the dealership, the experienced salesman showed us that we had been running it in the wrong gear. My daughter really loves the car, but I am concerned that running it incorrectly for 20 minutes could have potentially damaged or shortened the engine’s lifespan. I am probably being a real “girl” about this, but I feel like I would always be concerned about this. Thoughts?

You don’t have to buy that specific CX-5, do you? Do they have others on the lot that are similar? But you should also know that the engine has a ‘rev limiter’ that will prevent it from damaging itself. Not the best thing to do for the vehicle, but I really doubt you did anything wrong. Were you able to test drive it with it out of the ‘M’ (manual shift) position? You really need to also drive it, your daughter doesn’t have any idea about what makes a good car. But the CX-5 would certainly be a good option.

You put the transmission in the “manual” mode where you have to shift the gears yourself. Chances are you were driving around in 1st gear. The salemesman should’ve known this. Anyway, no matter what car you choose. You and your daughter need to get out the owner’s manual and go over it.

That car will not allow you to rev so high as to do engine damage. However, if she’s concerned. follow Texas’ advice.

Your story reminds me of an experience of my own some years ago. My mom called, all upset, thinking her car was destroyed. She’d loaned it to my sister, and she said the engine was making a horrible sound on the highway now. I stopped by, we took a drive and verified the noise, and when I engaged the overdrive the noise subsided. My sister had turned off the OD.

@FoDaddy is correct, you were in Manual mode and the transmission was not shifting like it normally would have.

Don’t feel too bad though, the one time my mom drove my CX-7, she put it in manual mode, too. Though I caught this and she corrected it by putting it in drive. If you don’t know the shifter that well, it can be pretty easy to accidentally put it in the wrong mode/gear. I dunno about the 5, but my 7 will display the gear number you are in if you’re in manual mode.

The first 20 minutes is also critical to the break-in process and I might at least have some reservations about this particular car although not the car line in general.

Your daughter will be happy with any car you buy for her. If you want to buy a CX-5, try a different one and drive it properly. The picture below shows the shifter. Park is at the top. The next notch below is reverse, then neutral, and then drive. The slot at the bottom left is the manual shift. You don’t want to be in that one, but the next notched area to the right.

I’m a bit old fashioned, but I don’t see having a 16 year old test drive a car? This is a new driver, driving a strange car in an unfamiliar area. Just a lot of potential for problems. This sales person must have been totally clueless to not know how the shifter on a car they are representing for sale works.

Take the car for another test drive. Mom or dad can drive and when in a safe area, like a big parking lot, or an area of low density traffic then let the 16 year old drive also. Then the adult can drive back to the dealership. That previous test drive was not really helpful so you need to try it again.

If you buy a Mazda you can get a different car. Most likely the test drive didn’t hurt the car, but it didn’t help it either.

The sales person is totally responsible for briefing the prospective buyer on how to operate the car. Nothing happened that your daughter is responsible for given that the sales person was siting next to her. All good advice on what to to next. Move on with your daughter as advised and don’t give a second thought to what happened. I would not buy any car used as a demo. Other then that, have fun.

I assume you were buying the car for your daughter. Otherwise, why was she driving ?

When I buy a car, I always drive it first. If another family member will be the primary driver, she gets to test drive it. When I put out the money, I get the final say. I can’t do that properly without testing the car first. Part of the process is for me to narrow the list to two or three cars.

I think you’re probably ok. I dropped my wife off to pick up our new car while I went on to work. Not knowing about the manual paddle shift, she drove it the 35 miles home in manual mode at least some of the way in other than high gear. She wasn’t real precise what gear or how long but that it whined quite a bit. The car had only 23 miles on it at the time but we drove it to over 50K with no problems at all.

I concur with the others. You didn’t damage the car, and your salesperson was an idiot, and someone other than your 16 year old daughter who has barely started driving should evaluate the car.

I’ll also point out that the CX-5 is a fairly powerful and large car for a novice driver to have. A new driver is far more likely to be hurt or to hurt other people in a larger, more powerful car.

Shadowfax the cx5 has a pretty small 4 cyl. Not an unusually powerful CUV.

I am with others as far as who has to test drive the car. In our household, the 1st person to drive it is me-mostly because I have the most experience driving it, and then my wife just evaluates interior comfort, looks etc. She has refused to test drive cars, but so far this has worked fine for us. The only difference is that I am 6’ tall with long legs and she is 5’1" with short legs, so I make sure she sits in the driver seat and checks comfort/view.
I would not have a 16 year old do the first drive on a potential purchase.

texases is correct. One of the biggest gripes about the cx-5 is that it isn’t all that quick for their tastes. It’s made for MPG, not the race track. 155hp is kinda low compared to even some small sedans, let alone crossovers.
Some perspective: the 2012 Civic(non-SI) has 140hp

Always got my dander up when I knew more about the vehicle then the salesman and the salesman werent enthusiasatic to boot.You didnt hurt the car-Kevin ( one of my friends drove his new Vega home from the dealership in 2nd gear(3 spd auto) and it turned out to be one of the best Vegas,I ever saw.)

Realisticly I don’t expect more of the sales people than just handling the details of the sale like price, paperwork, initial operating instructions and set up, etc. They aren’t engineers and hop around from one dealer to the next so I don’t expect them to know much about the mechanics. OTH, manual shifting is pretty basic these days.