Car Shoppers Report Increased Transparency Buying a Car

Survey finds car-buyers increasingly turn to digital tools during COVID-19

The latest Capital One Auto Navigator Survey reveals a significant jump in how transparent the car buying process has become for shoppers over the past two years. 40% of respondents to the 2020 survey reported it was transparent, compared to only 14% in 2018. Additionally, 77% of this year’s survey respondents reported they will research financing options and pre-qualification online more than before as a result of COVID-19.

“We believe that technology can make buying a car simple and enjoyable for consumers, and we’re excited to see an increase in the number of car buyers who view it as transparent. To me, that signals how digital tools can help shoppers feel more prepared and confident before buying a vehicle,” said Jeffrey Rabinowitz, senior vice president consumer auto, Capital One Auto Finance. “We built Auto Navigator to empower customers with their real rate and payment, all without affecting their credit score, and to contribute to the increasing transparency of car buying.”

Additional survey findings include:

Consumers lean into digital tools before heading to the dealership 

Most respondents plan to do more research on vehicles, dealerships, and financing, and say they will rely more heavily on online information than they did before COVID-19.

  • 83% intend to do more background research on potential cars online than before.
  • 63% feel it's easy to find information that makes them confident about their auto loan rate.
  • 81% feel prepared when discussing finance options with dealers.
  • Of those who purchased a car in the last six months, more than half (51%) selected their preferred make/model online, while more than a quarter (26%) did the same at the dealership.

Consumers value dealerships as part of the purchasing process

While 78% of respondents intend to spend less time at the dealership than before COVID-19, in-person dealer experiences like test driving and negotiations are still important.

  • 92% of respondents stated the test drive is an important step in the car-buying process.
  • 50% feel most comfortable purchasing from a dealership where negotiations are the norm as opposed to no haggle pricing.
  • Of those who plan to purchase a vehicle in the next 1-2 years, 43% plan to have discussions about pricing and financing in-person at the dealership. 


The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18+ was conducted on behalf of Capital One Auto Finance using Ipsos.  *Of the 1,000, 348 have bought/leased a car in the last 6 months and 652 self-reported that they’re planning to buy/lease a car within the next two years. The survey was fielded October 1-14, 2020 with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

About Auto Navigator 

Auto Navigator from Capital One allows car buyers to shop a digital inventory of millions of cars from more than 13,000 participating dealerships nationwide, pre-qualify for financing with no impact to their credit score, and see their financing options, all in one place.To learn more and pre-qualify for financing, visit or download the app from the iOS App Store.

Visit the Capital One Auto Learning Center for more information and resources about car financing and ownership.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation ( is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., had $305.7 billion in deposits and $421.9 billion in total assets as of September 30, 2020. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has branches located primarily in New York, Louisiana, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “COF” and is included in the S&P 100 index.