Consumer Behaviour When Purchasing Cars

This research conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes ('B&A') on behalf of the CCPC identifies the main considerations for consumers in choosing a car; shows there are wide variations in the checks carried out by consumers before a purchasing car and highlights that many consumers are unaware that consumer protection legislation does not apply if buying from a private seller.

Four key insights from this research are:

  • Insight One: Choosing a car

When choosing a car two-thirds (63%) of respondents visited garage forecourts with 53% considering this their most important source of information. Although 48% conducted research online, just 34% of respondents identified it as their primary source of information. Mechanical reliability (70%) and price (68%) are the two most important factors when purchasing a car, while 42% rated C02 emissions as highly important when deciding on a car.

  • Insight Two: Buying from a trader versus a private seller

63% of respondents to the survey purchased a car from an authorised dealer or independent garage while 34% purchased from a private seller. It is important to note that, although cars purchased from a private seller may be cheaper, they do not fall under consumer protection law, which means consumers do not have the same protection if something goes wrong. For example, if a car is faulty a consumer who has purchased from a private seller does not have the statutory rights of repair, replacement or refund. Significantly, 42% of respondents to the survey did not know that there was a difference in those rights when purchasing from a private seller versus purchasing from a trader.

  • Insight Three: Checks made prior to purchasing

There are a number of checks the CCPC encourages consumers to make to determine the condition of a second hand car prior to purchasing. 49% of consumers have engaged the services of a mechanic to check the car. 34% asked whether a car had previously been crashed and 23%, asked whether the odometer reading was genuine. Just 18% of respondents surveyed checked if there was outstanding finance on the car. If a car has outstanding finance owed, the legal owner of the car is the bank or finance company that provided the finance and therefore it could be repossessed. Finally, 17 % of respondents who had bought a second hand car in the past five years did no checks at all prior to purchasing.  

  • Insight Four: Financing a car

From paying cash, to getting a personal loan or buying a car on finance, there are many ways to finance a car. 54% of respondents to the survey planned how much they were going to spend and how they would finance their car prior to choosing their last car, while 46% chose the car first. 56% of respondents used their own resources to fully pay for their last car, while 16% used a credit union loan to pay for the full amount. In reviewing finance options, 61% of respondents compared interest rates while 45% compared the total cost of finance and 39% compared the monthly repayment figures.

The research was carried out in in April 2016 through the B&A face-to- face barometer survey of 1,008 adults and through online surveys of 350 adults who had purchased a car in the past 5 years. Respondents were questioned on the considerations they took into account and the checks they carried out prior to buying their last car.  

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