• A third of car buyers go to car salesrooms but then compare prices online
  • Nearly one in ten happy to buy a car online having never seen it

The polished floors, shiny cars and bright lights of car salesrooms still appeal to the over 55s, but younger age groups are much more likely than older generations to buy their car elsewhere, according to a new Opinium survey of over 2,000 UK drivers.

The survey, which was commissioned by InsuretheGap.com, a leading supplier of GAP Insurance (Guaranteed Asset Protection) for new and second-hand cars, found that 82% of over 55s bought their new or second-hand car from a car showroom, compared with 60% of 18 -34 year olds, who are more than twice as likely, than over 55s, to have used a private seller advert when buying their car.

One of the reasons why car buyers might be avoiding car salesrooms is because they find them intimidating, particularly the under 34s with one in five (20%) finding them intimidating, double the number of over 55s (10%).  Women (16%) also find them more intimidating than men (9%).

A source of stress is negotiating on the price of a car. A fifth (20%) find negotiating stressful and would rather cars were advertised at the final selling price, than having to negotiate (22% men v 17% women). Over 55s are more comfortable negotiating than younger generations.

Almost a third (32%) of car buyers go to car showrooms, but then compare the cars’ prices online.

For those avoiding car salesrooms, nearly one in 10 (9%) are happy to buy a car from a reputable seller online without having ever seen it, and nearly one in ten (9%) are happy to travel across the country to collect a car bought online.  In both cases, men are twice as likely to do this than women.

Surprisingly, perhaps, over half (51%) said they would buy a car that they had not test driven at all, with men again more likely to do this than women (56% men and 47% women).  Almost one in five UK drivers (17%) would also buy a car on their own without consulting their partner.

Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Office of InsuretheGap.com said: “Older generations are used to face-to-face interactions being the norm, so maybe this is the reason why they aren’t intimidated or put off by the atmosphere of a car salesroom.  For younger generations, used to doing everything online, it might feel a more alien and less comfortable environment. Car salesrooms might need to find new ways to engage with a younger audience, who are used to shopping around, comparing prices and buying things online.”

He continues: “This also applies to GAP insurance, the insurance which makes up the difference between market value, and what was originally paid for a car if it’s written off or stolen. Many dealerships offer this as an add-on when selling a car, but many people don’t understand what it is, and if they do want it, how much they should be paying. It is very simple to go online to find out how much you could save by buying it from a standalone provider like InsuretheGap.com.”