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More than half of motorists lack confidence when buying a car

Lizzie Parr

Lizzie Parr

PR Manager

Buying a car is among the biggest purchases we make so it’s only natural that there will be some apprehension when the time comes to upgrade.  

Earlier in the year, Motorpoint surveyed 2,009 UK drivers to understand how they feel about the car-buying process and what factors are most important to them when choosing their next vehicle.  

What is most important when choosing a new car?  

When it comes to upgrading, 54% of drivers would prefer to buy a used car – with 38% of them looking specifically for a nearly new car.1   

Of those surveyed, only 20% of drivers knew exactly what they wanted before starting the search for their next car. For the majority, there were several main considerations that informed their decision-making process.  

For the majority of drivers, (61%) the overall cost of running a vehicle day-to-day would have an impact on their decision making when buying a car.  

More than half of drivers (51%) said that fuel type was an important thing to consider when it came to choosing a new car.  

Motorists aren’t particularly loyal to a single manufacturer or model, with less than a third of drivers (31%) feeling that buying from a single manufacturer was important. Only 21% were looking to upgrade to a newer version of a car they have previously owned – suggesting that most drivers are looking to try something different when it comes time to upgrade. 

How do drivers like to shop for a car?  

It may be easier than ever to buy a car online, but a significant number of motorists still want the chance to look at a car and potentially test drive before committing.  

When it comes to checking out a car in person, 79% of motorists said they would take someone with them to help decide what to buy.  

There were a few popular choices for who to take: 

  • 53% of motorists shop for a car with their partner  
  • 10% would take a friend they trusted  
  • 7% call on their parents to help them decide  

A second pair of eyes might be a smart idea, but motorists seem to be missing a trick when it comes making sure they are choosing the right car for them.  

Just 35% of those surveyed said they would only buy a car after test driving it – giving them a chance to see how they feel about the vehicle and check for any underlying issues.  

Younger drivers are the least likely to carry out this important step, with 81% of motorists aged 18-24 admitting they would skip a test drive when buying a car – despite this being one of the easiest ways of ensuring you are getting the right car for you and your needs.  

Do drivers feel confident when buying a car?  

Buying a car is a big financial decision and with so many things to consider, it isn’t hard to imagine why 59% of drivers admit not feeling confident when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle.  

From our research, we found that 35% of drivers worry they won’t notice if there is something wrong with a car, and the majority of motorists (70%) said they don’t know what to expect from the car buying process – suggesting that a lack of understanding about steps and decisions associated with choosing a car could be to blame.  

Despite all those surveyed having bought at least one car in the last decade, there was still some uncertainty about what to check for:  

31% Of drivers would know what to look out for when buying a car  
30% Would know what questions to ask during the car buying process  
23% Would know what checks to make on a car they were interested in purchasing  

Are there any worries when it comes to car shopping? 

Despite not always feeling confident when it came to buying a car – and 28% worrying that they might be put under pressure to decide – most motorists (77%) were confident they would ultimately end up with the right vehicle for them.  

Overpaying for their dream vehicle was a concern for many drivers, with 39% admitting they were worried about paying too much for their next car.  

Despite this concern, 78% say they would feel uncomfortable trying to negotiate on price and just 15% of motorists are confident they would be able to get the best price available.  

Is this the same for all drivers?  

While the majority of drivers (55%) lack confidence when buying a car, Motorpoint found that there was a noticeable difference in how comfortable different age groups were when it came to buying a car:  

Statement  18 - 34 35-54 55+ 
I feel comfortable visiting a car dealership 34% 45% 55% 
I feel comfortable speaking with car salespeople  27% 36% 46% 
I feel comfortable test driving a car I’m interested in 19% 27% 41% 
I’m confident I could get the best price possible  11% 19% 21% 

Again, when asked about any concerns they might have during the car buying process, older drivers were less worried about the process than other drivers.   

Statement  18 - 34 35-54 55+ 
I don’t have any worries when it comes to buying a car  4.9% 14% 35% 

When looking at specific concerns, the research found that those aged 55+ were less concerned about overpaying for a vehicle or not knowing what questions to ask – suggesting that older drivers benefit from being more familiar with the car buying process.  

Drivers were asked to select anything they were worried about when it came to buying a car: 

Statement 18-34 35-54 55+ 
Overpaying for a vehicle  48% 42% 32% 
Being put under pressure to decide 29% 32% 25% 
Being upsold a car or features that were not needed  23% 19% 10% 
Not asking the right questions  21% 15% 12% 
Missing something that is wrong with the car  35% 39% 33% 


Survey conducted by SurveyGoo on behalf of Motorpoint with a sample of 2,009 UK car owners, who had bought a car in the last 10 years. Results were collected in February 2023. All statistics and findings have been rounded to the nearest whole number.  A full data set is available on request. 

SurveyGoo is a full member of the Market Research Society and the Independent Consultants Group. 

  1. Motorpoint defines a nearly new car as a vehicle that is under 30,000 miles. 


For all media enquiries please get in touch:

PR Manager: Lizzie Parr


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Established in 1998, Motorpoint is the UK’s largest independent retailer of nearly new cars and vans with 20 stores across England, Scotland and Wales.

Our CEO and Senior Leadership Team are available to discuss the nearly new, used car and second-hand car marketplace

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