The survey was conducted by Harris Poll and questioned more than 1,000 car buyers. Only 25 percent say the car-buying process is pain free. Negotiating the price is the most disliked part, respondents said. They find it so stressful that 70 percent would give up daily essentials such as coffee or their smartphone for a week to avoid negotiating.
In addition, the survey found that the majority (62 percent) of car buyers don’t think they’ll get better financing if they go through the dealership. Even with that being the case, only 21 percent of buyers say they’re extremely likely to secure pre-approved financing before buying a car.
Consumers want the process changed
This survey echoes the findings of this year’s Autotrader’s Car Buyer of the Future study. Only 17 people out of over 4,000 surveyed like the current car-buying process as it is. The rest want substantial changes, especially concerning the test drive, deals, and financing paperwork.
Somewhat surprisingly in this digital age, 84 percent of people in Autotrader’s study still want to buy a car in person. Many - 43 percent - view the car dealership as a place to learn and to confirm and enhance, rather than replace, information they’ve found online. However, over half said they’d like to start negotiations online rather than at the dealership, and nearly half would like to be anonymous until the deal structure is already set up.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they wanted to complete credit and financing paperwork online, both to help save time and to avoid pressure at the dealership.
Although most consumers intensely dislike the negotiation process, Autotrader found that they don’t trust flat-rate pricing and think that it doesn’t give them the best deal. This was true across the board, including among women and millennials.
The overall experience matters, not just price
While price is always important, of course, consumers also say that the overall car-buying experience plays an important role in their purchasing decisions. More than half say they would buy a car from a dealership that has a better experience over one with the lowest price. More are also willing to drive farther for a great salesperson than for the lowest price.
The test drive was another component that the majority of consumers want to change, according to the Autotrader survey. They feel pressured when accompanied by a salesperson and would like to instead conduct the test drive with a product specialist.
Improving the process would make them buy more often, consumers say
Fortunately for dealerships, improving the process has great appeal to consumers. Almost three-quarters say that they’d visit dealerships more often if the buying process was improved, and over half would buy a vehicle more often. Two-thirds say they’d be much more likely to buy from a dealer that offers a better experience.