More People Relying On The Internet To Buy Vehicles

By: Mike Sachoff - November 6, 2009

Searching online for used vehicles has become the primary way for consumers to locate used automobiles, according to new a report by J.D. Power and Associates.

The report found the percentage of used-vehicle buyers who rely on the Internet as a way for locating vehicles for sale has increased from 40 percent in 2008 to 46 percent in 2009, equal to the percentage of buyers who visit dealer lots as their main shopping method. In addition, 31 percent of buyers found the vehicle they eventually purchased on the Internet, compared with 28 percent of buyers who found their vehicle by visiting dealerships.

"Internet shopping provides prospective buyers with the opportunity to search through enormous amounts of specific vehicle information without ever leaving home, allowing for a more efficient medium of matching buyers with unique used vehicles in the market," said Arianne Walker, director of marketing and media research at J.D. Power and Associates.
"In light of this, dealers should expect the Internet to continue to increase in importance among used-vehicle shoppers and adjust their online presence accordingly."

The report also found that awareness of certified pre-owned (CPO vehicle programs is strong, with more than 60 percent of used-vehicle buyers indicating they intend to purchase certified pre-owned vehicles at the start of their shopping process.

One-half of all buyers of CPO vehicles say they used the Internet to locate used vehicles, while a slightly lower percentage (45%) shopped primarily by driving to dealer lots. The percentage of buyers who visited dealer Web sites specifically for CPO vehicle information has increased considerably to 29 percent in 2009, compared with 19 percent in 2008.

Among used vehicle buyers who use the Internet in their shopping process, third party sites are visited during the shopping process more frequently than other types of sites, including dealer websites. The majority (91%) of buyers say they visited at least one third-party websites during the shopping process.

"Not only has visitation increased for third-party sites, but they also continue to be viewed as the most useful sites during the shopping process," said Walker. "Overall, users rate sites such as AutoTrader,, and Edmunds highly for overall usefulness. In addition, certain third-party sites are also well regarded for usefulness in specific areas.

"For example, sites like AutoTrader and eBay Motors are perceived as particularly useful for inventory information, while buyers report that and Edmunds are useful for vehicle appraisals and reviews. Sites such as Kelley Blue Book are perceived as being particularly useful for pricing information."

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Mike Sachoff

About the Author

Mike SachoffMike is a staff writer for WebProNews.

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  • Real Paid Surveys

    I Wonder if you would get the same deals and offerings if you purchased Online rather than on the lot – kinda like retail stores offer different products online opposed to instore

  • Automotive Chat

    This is a great read. I started in the car business in 99 and was put in charge of the internet department quickly there after. I watched it grow so much so that within 4 years we had an entire internet team of 8 people. Every dealership is different but most have a process in place for special pricing through the internet department. You can also normally cut out the negotiating process for those dealers that will provide you with the information you want before coming in. In my experience the car you inquire about usually isn’t the car you buy when you come in.

    These 3rd party sites like and have sites with a lot of content and educate the shoppers so they will come to their sites for education and in return they hope they use their service to purchase a car. Autotrader has established themselves as the “google” of the auto industry. These services have taken advantage of the lack of SEO & SEM from dealers and are taking traffic from dealers for keywords that are specific to some dealers. I have even seen a 3rd party site buying a dealership name on google ppc campaign. More than likely selling the inquiry from that search term to the dealer.

    Dealership websites need to get better at educating and becoming more dynamic. A lot of times the only things that change on the website is inventory. JD Powers did a study a couple years ago that stated that 80% of people that visit an automotive dealership website leave without contacting the dealership. Dealers need to become better at conversion.

    Great article and keep the automotive articles coming.

  • Agency collection

    Internet is so much better than local “Pot lots”. First of all the prices seem to be more resonably priced. The problem with Pot lots is that they want you to pay about 3 times what a vehical is worth. I seen many cases where it was only a few thousand more to goto the dealership and buy a car new. I buy all my cars from the internet.