Only a Quarter of Consumers Confident When Shopping for a Car

Just 24% of buyers consider themselves ‘a boss’ when negotiating price
A couple car shopping

For many consumers, a car is one of the biggest purchases they will make. Yet, only 26% of consumers say they feel very confident during the car-shopping process, a new survey reveals.

Capital One Auto Navigator, a subsidiary of financial services company Capital One Financial Corp. that provides an online inventory of cars for sale, surveyed 1,004 adults to get their thoughts about buying a car. Of the survey sample, 693 respondents do not work at a car dealership, have purchased a car in the past and have previously had a car loan or are planning to get one. The results revealed that shoppers have a number of concerns when they head to the dealership.

Consumer car-buying anxieties

A number of factors contribute to consumers’ sense of unease about the car-buying process. The biggest worries appear related to a lack of preparation on the consumer’s part.

  • 43% of respondents said their low confidence comes from not researching the car-buying process or knowing which car they want.
  • 27% said their low confidence level is due to not being financially prepared before visiting the dealership. This includes tasks such as checking their credit score, getting pre-qualified for a car loan and knowing their financing options.
  • 28% of respondents said previous experiences when buying a car contribute to low confidence when car shopping.

Some car shoppers also may dread having to negotiate with a car salesperson about a vehicle’s price. Among respondents, only 24% described themselves as being “a boss” when it comes to haggling for the best deal, though that percentage has risen 8% since last year.

Easing the car-buying process

The study also showed that consumers have their own ideas about what would make the car-buying process easier. More than half of respondents — 57% — said they want a more transparent process, with clear financing options, promotions and dealer incentives. While 75% of respondents said their budget was one of the top three factors they consider when buying a car, the survey revealed that consumers were mixed about which particular financial factor is their primary concern:

  • 28% said they are looking for a car with the lowest monthly payment
  • 27% said they are most concerned with the final sale price
  • 20% said they are most focused on the total cost of ownership

The act of negotiating for anything can be stressful if you’re not confident in your ability to make your case, but doing your research can make the car-buying process easier. Take the time to get an idea of average interest rates for auto loans so you’ll know if a lender is offering you a good deal. And if a new car is out of your price range, you may want to also consider buying a used car from a private seller.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

Comments and Questions