Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

New or demonstrator?

Purchased a 2016 Accord from my local Honda dealer. Car was new, except for 200 miles or so driven after car was in dealer’s possession.

The title mailed by DMV weeks later lists car as “new” and having 8 miles. I assume the dealer provided this information. Given the car was used for demonstrations or even personal use by staff, is this accurate, or should the vehicle have been sold as “demonstrator” or “used”?

At what point does a new vehicle become a demonstrator or used?

UPDATE: I’ve summarized my findings below.

The word “demonstrator” is ambiguous; but I will use the definition from
‘… a product (as an automobile) used to demonstrate performance or merits to prospective buyers’.

From my vehicle manufacturer, I was told that the dealer can sell the car as new, regardless of mileage, as long as it was never titled.

From my state DMV:
‘A new vehicle has a certificate of origin and a used vehicle would have a previous owner title. This is how new or used is determined. We do not have a “demonstrator” category.’

From the Washington State Department of Licensing, Vehicle Dealer & Manufacturer Resource Manual September 2012, page 17:
‘Used Vehicles RCW 46.04.660 WAC 308-66-110
A used vehicle is one which has been titled into the name of a retail purchaser (final consumer), also known as pre-owned.
New vehicles remain “new” regardless of the number of transfers of interest in the vehicle prior to the purchase of the vehicle at retail.
An automobile does not become a “used” car simply because several potential buyers have driven it for the
purpose of demonstration.’

However, legal definitions aside, what I have gleaned from other threads is that a truly new car is one that arrives from the factory with fewer than 10 miles clocked.

It varies by state. Check with your DMV.

A demonstrator will have a lot more miles then 200. Being a 2016, 200 miles of test drives is not out of the question. Besides checking with your DMV ask the dealer but you really don’t have a serious problem.

I bought a Cevrolet in 2009 with just over 400 miles on it. The dealer was closing shop, and they said GM would not take it back because it had too many miles on it and they didn’t consider it new anymore. It is new because it was never registered. They mileage is from people testing the car. I guess you could call it a demonstrator, but these days, every car on the lot is a demonstrator. IMO, you don’t have any recourse on the demonstrator use.

To me, the big issue is that the dealer lied on the mileage registration with the state. That is criminal action, and you should report it to your local police. They will tell you who to go to next. Don’t let this slide; call the police tonight.

You might want to edit this.

1 Like

Well, maybe he just isn’t a University of Alabama fan!
Some like vanilla, some like chocolate, some like Notre Dame, some like University of Alabama.
It’s all good!

1 Like

Yes, thanks. Safari spell check is low life, toad sucking, garbage, isn’t it?

No, no, I root for THE ORIGINAL USC - the University of South Carolina. Fold, Tide, fold…

I meant to spell it that way, BTW.

I should add, don’t fold against Clemson, though. There are far, far worse things than Bama winning another FCS title, and Clemson winning is one of them.

I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this. The title had the original miles from the factory on it, and this could be an innocent case of them overlooking the current mileage. It doesn’t affect the value whatsoever. A lot of dealers will drive the new cars home from time to time; free advertising to see the owner driving what he sells, or a salesman becoming acquainted with the features, etc.

1 Like

Customers often prefer a specific package or color that isn’t in stock at the dealership they are visiting so the dealer has someone take another and swap it at a nearby dealership to suit the customer. By law odometers must be operating when the car leaves the factory so the miles from one dealership to the other will show up on the car while the mileage on the application for title is likely the mileage that was posted when the car came off the truck at the first dealership.

Re: free advertising.

Good insight - you think like an “insider”. I assumed they were just “going for a ride” since it had a V6 and would be a good way to blow off stress. Having the sticker on the side window and the license plate holders blazen with dealer advertising while parking the car at the local lunch joint can be better advertising than having the college kid dressed as a chicken doing a juggling act in front of the dealership.

1 Like

That’s a common scenario. But, from the paperwork, the car was originally sold to my dealer, no other “transportation” was involved.

Perhaps, but I never seem to need the intervention of Spell Check.


You’re my hero!

Yrs ago my neighbor would ferry new cars for local dealer. We picked up some cars at rail yard with him and by sheer luck one of the cars was a new car my brother ordered. I drove it 80 miles back to dealer. Annoyed my bro to find out I drove it before him.

A demonstrator is technically considered a used car. Even the FTC says so.

Yes it’s quite possible to have a demonstrator with only 200 miles on it. Or even a 100 miles.

You also need to keep in mind that the factory warranty began on the day the car was put into service as a demonstrator; not the day you bought it. So you likely have given up some warranty coverage.

The car with features and color I wanted was at a dealer in Washington state and driven to Salem, Oregon. 216 miles is recorded on my title. That would only be useful to me if I had a basic warranty claim at less than 5 years and 50,216 miles. I barely had 30,000 miles at 5 years so it was a moot point. If I sell the car I have to record the current odometer reading certifying it with my signature. It appears that in my state dealers are not exempt from this requirement.

Locally, here in north Mississippi, I have seen ‘new’ cars leave the dealerships with the documented mileage within tenths of a mile of what was on the odometer while others varied, some more than 100 miles and a local dealership mentioned that when they took possession of a vehicle from the transporter mileage was recorded and if the car was swapped to another dealer they sent their paper work with it and vice versa if for cars they picked up from other dealers. And while most people weren’t concerned about the miles some were and when they insisted the application for title would be written with the mileage at the time the car was sold but it took some time and involved several people signing off so they preferred to just blow it off. Mississippi is likely one of the most lenient states regarding documentation of mileage both officially and unofficially.

Re: “A demonstrator is technically considered a used car”

I’ve read conflicting views on this point. Was there a particular source for this view? Perhaps it varies by state?

For example, from Consumer Reports News: March 27, 2009 , :
“If the vehicle has never been registered (regardless of how many miles are on it), the vehicle is legally considered new.”

This would imply the demonstrator is “new”, and the warranty would start on the date of sale.
But, in my opinion, a demonstrator is clearly used, or perhaps even abused, depending on the prior test drivers or salesmen.