Every dealership has a different idea of what sanitizing a car means. For one, it may mean that the driver’s side interior has been wiped with disinfecting cloths, while another will completely sanitize the interior of the vehicle. Some dealerships insist their mechanics sanitize under the hood after they finish working on a car, while others do nothing for the engine.
The reality is, unless you actually see someone disinfect the car, you can’t be sure it has been done. For that reason, it is perfectly fine for you to ask that the vehicle be cleaned while you watch. If a dealership won’t accommodate you, then go somewhere else.
For some customers, the threat of COVID-19 is so worrisome that they take their own sanitizing wipes and clean the car themselves before they test drive it. They can be sure any area that they may touch has been cleaned to their satisfaction and they feel safer when they test drive a car. If you are looking at a car being sold outside a dealership, you should definitely clean the car yourself as a private citizen has no guidelines that they have to follow when selling a car.
When the sales person disinfects the car, make sure they wipe all of the buttons and knobs on the car, the steering wheel, gear shift and mirrors. Before you take the key or key fob from them, ask for it to be disinfected, too. Remember to wipe the door handles, seat belts, and seat adjustment buttons. For your safety, either wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after your test drive and keep your hands away from your face while in the car.