Learn How To Get The Best Deal

2011 Auto Buying Experience Study

Part of our goal here at AutoBuying101.com is to help consumers get the best deal, and guide them through the entire auto buying experience.  To that end, we have started investigating how Americans shop for vehicles, buy vehicles, and their impressions of the experience.


In June 2011 we commissioned a study with United Sample Inc. (www.usamp.com) whereas we surveyed 535 consumers that recently purchased a vehicle in the past 3 months.  The respondents represented a diverse geographic and demographic population, and included consumers that bought new, certified pre-owned, and used vehicles from franchised dealers, independent dealers, and private parties.

We’re excited to share some of the initial results of our study below, and over the next few months we will be analyzing the results in more detail to better understand specific details that help ensure a buyer is getting the best deal and is satisfied with their purchase.

We will be following up this year’s Auto Buying Experience Study™ with a similar study every year.

Initial Results

Overall satisfaction is strong, but the process is stressful and consumers are skeptical:

  • 79% of buyers feel they received a fair deal on their auto purchase
  • While 74% of buyers enjoyed the overall auto buying process, 62% said that it was stressful
  • Almost half, 43%, felt the auto buying process was complicated
  • Only 28% of respondents said they trust automobile dealers

Consumer shop in different ways, and there are clear opinions on the “best” and “worst” aspects of the auto buying experience:

  • Most buyers spend one to three months considering their purchase before buying
  • The Internet plays a major role in the car buying process with 83% of respondents visiting manufacturer websites, 82% visiting independent automotive information sites and 78% checked out at least one dealership website.
  • People usually do not shop alone – 66% brought a friend or family member with them
  • The best part – 38% of respondents said that the best part of the auto buying process was driving away in their new vehicle while 19% felt that test driving and inspecting was the best part
  • The worst part – 37% said negotiating the price was the worst part of the experience while 22% felt that setting a budget was the worst part

Consumer preparedness in purchasing vehicles is low:

While there is a plethora of information available about new and used models, auto buyers are still focused on the physical aspects of buying a car versus the transactional aspects.  Preparedness can lead to a better price and more consumer satisfaction.

  • 44% of buyers did not know their credit score before making the purchase
  • 47% of buyers did not try and get pre-approved for financing before the purchase
  • 44% of buyers did not have an scheduled appointment with the dealer on the day they  purchased their vehicle

Multimedia Assets

Based on the initial findings we developed the following graphs and visuals to help understand some of the initial data points. Any external parties that would like to use these assets are welcome to do so. Offline usage should include a clear reference to AutoBuying101.com, and online usage should include a link directly to AutoBuying101.com. Specific usage inquiries can be made via our Contact Us form, where we can provide the original video and graphic files if needed.

Did you find the auto buying experience enjoyable or stressful?

What was the best and worst part of your auto buying experience?

74% found the auto buying experience enjoyable

62% found the auto buying experience stressful

What was the best and worst part of your auto buying experience?