Young Buyers in a Spin When it Comes to Car Shopping

New research finds younger shoppers admit to struggling with car buying process

  • Nearly half of young people (47 per cent) can’t identify common car parts - ten per cent think the chassis is a type of French liquor
  • 43 per cent of young people admit to not having good knowledge about cars and 49 per cent say that this makes them anxious ahead of buying a car
  • 38 per cent base most of car buying decision on looks, rather than reliability

New research from CarGurus finds that millennial shoppers have a knowledge gap when it comes to cars. While just a quarter (25 per cent) of older Brits admit to not having a good level of car buying knowledge, 43 per cent of millennials say their car knowledge is lacking, and nearly half (49 per cent) say their lack of knowledge makes them feel anxious about buying a car. Millennial shoppers are also more likely to base their car buying decision on style and looks rather than knowledge of the car’s history or reliability.

Millennials also admit their basic knowledge of car mechanics is deficient: 47 per cent say they’ve forgotten much of what they learned in driving school about what’s what in their car. Many are unable to identify common car parts, with one in ten (10 per cent) thinking the chassis is a type of French liquor and a further five per cent thinking it is a type of dance. A quarter (25 per cent) of millennials were not able to identify the automatic transmission and of those, 57 per cent thought it is how you set up your car radio to pick up traffic bulletins, while 14 per cent believed it was an R-Kelly song! Similarly, a quarter (24 per cent) did not know what the ABS** is, as of those who didn’t know, 31 per cent thought it was a muscle group and 28 per centbelieved it was a medical condition.

Contrastingly the older generations are the most knowledgeable, with 45 per cent of those aged 45+ accurately able to name all car parts. Perhaps this is why 35 per cent of millennials admit to relying on their parents, preferring them to make the car buying decision for them. However, if left to their own devices, a shocking 38 per cent would base the majority of their car buying decision on the look and style, over its reliability, with the same amount saying they aren’t bothered about the mechanics just how the car looks.

Young people are aware that they lack knowledge and use the research process to address this. Unsurprisingly, millennials’ main research method is the internet, but they do make use of magazines, newspapers and speak to friends and colleagues too. Some 33 per cent of young people aged 18 – 34 start the research process up to a month or more ahead of purchasing a car.

While this seems like a fair amount of time, older people, despite having better basic car knowledge, spend more time researching than young people. For 41 per cent of 35 – 54 year olds and 40 per cent of people aged 55+, the research process starts up to a month or more ahead of the purchase. All age groups say that research makes them feel more confident about the process, with 74 per cent of young people stating that they believe it reduces the likelihood of them being overcharged.

Sarah Welch, spokesperson for CarGurus commented:
“Young people are tech savvy and used to accessing information quickly, but the car shopping process is complex and while there is plenty of information available, it can be difficult to know what is important and what isn’t. Even though people put in the research time, they still struggle to get to the information that matters.

“This is where CarGurus can help, it offers car buyers transparency on price and reputation and will help those who perhaps don’t have as much motor knowledge easily narrow down their car choices to find the best deals from the top-dated dealers.”

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*Millennials are defined as those born after 1980, so any respondent who fit in the 18-34 age bracket
**Anti-lock Braking System

For Further Information, Please Contact:

Jennifer Barnes or Laura Hicks at Brands2Life – / 0207 592 1200

About the Research

CarGurus commissioned Opinium to poll:

  • 1,000 UK adults who have bought a car in the last two years, or are looking to buy one in the next 6 months, between 23-24 August 2016
  • 2,000 UK adults from 23 – 26 August 2016 on their knowledge of cars

About CarGurus

CarGurus ( is leading online automotive shopping platform that helps consumers quickly find the best car deals from top-rated dealerships. Committed to bringing transparency and innovation to the car shopping process, the company uses proprietary mathematical algorithms to analyse available cars, taking into account a multitude of factors including price, vehicle specs and history, location and shopper-submitted dealership reviews to calculate how relevant deals from stack up. Shoppers can then connect directly with dealerships about cars in which they have interest. The company was founded by Langley Steinert (also a co-founder of TripAdvisor) in the U.S., where it is now the #1 most visited car shopping and research site by daily user traffic. CarGurus launched in the UK in 2015.

Caroline Jahrling