Survey Says

Capital One study reveals 74 percent of buyers aren't confident car shoppers

The car buying process is a hassle for most buyers, according to a new study.

Photo by Getty Images

Its a hassle that's been played out comically in commercials for years. The salesman and buyer decide on a price for a new vehicle and the salesman then heads to the back room where he's supposed to be negotiating with the finance team but instead makes himself a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, the nervous buyers sit and wait for what seems like hours.

It's no wonder that dealerships are the biggest pain point in the car buying process. A Cars.com study recently found that potential car buyers would rather clean toilets than go through the hassle.

A new survey by Capital One reveals the factors that lead to buyers' anxiety. To get the results, a survey of 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18 and older was conducted on behalf of Capital One Auto Finance using Engine Insight's Online CARAVAN omnibus in September 2019.

Capital One - Auto Navigator Infographic Graphic courtesy of Capital One

The results showed just how far dealerships still need to go to ease the process and how much educational opportunity there still is for buyers.

Only 26 percent of respondents said that they feel very confident when shopping for a car. This is a six percent increase over the 2018 results.

The lack of confidence came from three major areas:

  • 27% said it was because they did not have finances in order when visiting a dealership
  • 43% revealed that it was because of lack of research into the vehicle they're shopping for
  • 28% attributed the anxiety to past car buying experiences

In the 2018 survey, 16 percent of respondents said that they felt "like a boss" when car shopping. In 2019, that number rose to 24 percent.

"Car shopping should be enjoyable instead of stressful, and with a little pre-work, consumers can ensure their decision complements their lifestyle and budget," said Jeffrey Rabinowitz, managing vice president, Capital One Auto Finance. "We found that 88 percent of consumers surveyed understand what it means to pre-qualify for financing, but only half are willing to try it."

Financing is traditionally the longest part of the car buying process, which Cars.com says lasts around four hours on average.

While budget is the largest determination of which vehicle a buyer selects, 28 percent of Capital One survey responders said that they are also looking for the lowest monthly payment while 27 percent focused more on the final sale price. Just 20 percent of potential buyers said that they were concerned with the total cost of ownership.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that they are looking for improvements in the car buying process, especially when it comes to transparency in financing options, negotiations and more clarity on dealer incentives and promotions.

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Existing Dodge Charger and Challenger models are getting a no-cost update designed to thwart thieves.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis
The Dodge Charger and Challenger are hot models. Not just hot as in good-looking. Hot as in stolen. In 2019, the Dodge Charger HEMI and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat were atop the Highway Loss Data Institute's list of vehicles most likely to be stolen. The claim rates for each model's whole-vehicle theft were more than five times the average for 2016 to 2018 models. Since then, both models have continued to see robust sales.

Dodge has announced an automotive software upgrade that is designed to made the cars less desirable to theives. Using the Dodge owner's four-digit security code, a new enhanced deterrence feature limits the vehicle's engine speed to idle (675 rpm). At idle, the engines produce approximately 2.8 horsepower and 22 lb.-ft. of torque.

2020 Dodge Charger The Dodge Charger is one of the most stolen vehicles in the U.S. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The no-charge update is limited to Dodge Charger and Challenger models equipped with 392-cu.-in. HEMI V8 or supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engines.

"Dodge is launching a new owner-customized 'double verification' security system," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "When flashed into the computer of affected 2015 or newer Dodge muscle cars, the protective software will limit the engine output to less than three horsepower, foiling fast getaways and joyrides."

The software upgrade can be installed free of charge by any Dodge dealer on 2015 through 2021 model-year Dodge muscle cars. The complimentary enhancement applies second-level vehicle security encryption via Dodge's Uconnect 4C infotainment system.

"More than 150 cars are stolen every day in the United States," added Kuniskis. "For any car owner, it's terrible, it's a hassle and it's a personal violation. Though statistically rare, car thieves have targeted the high-horsepower Dodge muscle cars, and we want the Dodge 'Brotherhood' to know we're taking quick action and covering their backs."

Dodge has committed to pursuing other enhancements to vehicle-theft deterrence in order to protect owners' investments.

Dodge expects the new security feature to be available late in the second quarter of 2021.

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Nissan's ProPilot Assist technology debuted in 2018.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Technology is supposed to make us better drivers, right? A new report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that just the opposite is happening.

Adaptive cruise control is an upgraded version of traditional cruise control. It allows users to set a speed then it regulates the vehicles speed according to the traffic around it, within certain parameters. If the car in front of the vehicle slows down, the tech is designed to slow down the vehicle accordingly. If the car in front speeds up, the technology will speed up the vehicle up to the point of the set speed.

Some varieties of adaptive cruise control can slow the vehicle to a stop then start it moving again within a certain time period.

IIHS researchers have found that some divers are using adaptive cruise control as a tool for speeding, which the organization is concerned undermines the feature's potential safety benefits. The study found that drivers are substantially more likely to speed when adaptive cruise control or partial automation technology combines with lane centering tech.

"Adaptive cruise control does have some safety benefits, but it's important to consider how drivers might cancel out these benefits by misusing the system," says IIHS Statistician Sam Monfort, the lead author of the paper. "Speed at impact is among the most important factors in whether or not a crash turns out to be fatal."

An analysis of insurance claims data by the IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute and other research indicate that adaptive cruise control may lower crash risk. To do this, they maintain a greater following distance as their default setting than most human driers would traditionally follow. Studies have also shown that they reduce the frequency of passing and other lane changes.

IIHS describes its study methodology:

"To find out the impact ACC and lane centering technologies have on speeding, IIHS researchers analyzed the behavior of 40 drivers from the Boston metro area over a four-week period using data collected by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Advanced Vehicle Technology Consortium. These drivers were provided with a 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque outfitted with ACC or with a 2017 Volvo S90 equipped with ACC and Pilot Assist — a partial automation system that combines ACC with lane centering. The data suggest that drivers were 24 percent more likely to drive over the speed limit on limited-access highways when those systems were turned on. The amount by which they exceeded the speed limit when they did speed was also greater when they were using the driver assistance features compared with driving manually.

"Whether driving manually or using ACC or Pilot Assist, speeders exceeded the limit by the largest margin in zones with a 55 mph limit. In these areas, speeders averaged about 8 mph over the limit, compared with 5 mph in 60 mph and 65 mph zones. ACC also had the largest impact on how much they exceeded the limit in zones where it was 55 mph. In these slower zones, they averaged a little more than 1 mph higher over the limit when using ACC or Pilot Assist than they did driving manually.

"That 1 mph increase may not sound like much. Leaving aside any other effect these features may have on crash risk, however, it means ACC and partial automation users are at about 10 percent higher risk of a fatal crash, according to a common formula for calculating probable crash outcomes. This study did not analyze real-world crashes."

"Driving faster is more dangerous," says Monfort. "You can't argue with physics."

IIHS is quick to point out that their study did not account for several other factors that have been shown to reduce crash frequency and severity.

The organization also chose to test using vehicles that only allow drivers to bump their selected speed up or down by 5 mph increments at the touch of a button, which they say may explains why users exceeded the legal limit by larger amounts.

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