Lack of Confidence Continues to Weigh on Car Shoppers

According to a new survey from Capital One, consumers want more transparency around financing before going to the dealership.

PLANO, TX (November 21, 2019) – With the holiday season approaching, car shoppers are gearing up for the last great deals of the year. However, the latest Capital One Auto Navigator survey reveals only 26 percent of respondents feel very confident when shopping for a car. While this is a six percent increase over 2018, respondents attribute low confidence to not having finances in order prior to visiting a dealership (27 percent)[1], not researching nor knowing what car they want (43 percent) and past experience (28 percent).  In addition, only 24 percent say they are “a boss” when it comes to negotiating during car buying, a number that also saw a slight increase (eight percent) over last year (sixteen 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. With Auto Navigator, consumers can pre-qualify for financing with no impact to their credit score, and with our Auto Learning Center, they can research all aspects of car shopping.  This transparency allows consumers to feel more confident in their car-buying experience.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

Based on survey responses, finance is not only the consumers’ biggest concern during the car-buying process, but also the most time consuming and stressful. 

  • 75 percent of respondents put budget in their top three elements to consider when buying a car.
  • There is a divide on the most important financial factors when purchasing a vehicle. 28 percent of respondents are looking for the lowest monthly payment, 27 percent are focused on final sale price of the vehicle and 20 percent are concerned with total cost of ownership.
  • The most time-consuming task at the dealership is working with and signing paperwork with the finance department, according to 52 percent of respondents.

Based on survey responses, shoppers crave improvements to the car-buying experience.

  •  57 percent of respondents are looking for improvements to the car buying process, particularly transparency in financing options, negotiations and more clarity on dealer incentives and promotions.


Auto Navigator by Capital One provides a digital inventory of nearly four million cars from almost 13,000 participating dealerships across the nation so consumers have all the information needed to confidently find and finance a car. Auto Navigator further supports consumers by allowing them to see if they pre-qualify for financing with no impact to their credit score, saving them time before heading to the dealership. To learn more, visit or download it in the iOS App Store.

Visit the Capital One Auto Learning Center for more information and resources on financing a vehicle.


The survey of 1,004 U.S. adults ages 18+ was conducted on behalf of Capital One Auto Finance using Engine Insight’s Online CARAVAN® omnibus.  *Of the 1,004, 693 do not work at a car dealership or ad/public relations company, have purchased a vehicle in the past, are planning to get an auto loan or ever had one. The survey was fielded September 5-8, 2019.

Read the 2020 Car Buying Survey Findings.

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 $257.1 billion in deposits and $378.8 billion in total assets as of September 30, 2019. 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.

Capital One Auto Finance and Capital One Auto Navigator and all other related trademarks are trademarks or registered trademarks of Capital One and/or its affiliated companies. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.

[1] Having finances in order prior to visiting the dealer includes responses of “I checked my credit,” “I pre-qualified for financing” and “I know my financing options.”