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Car Customers Hate Haggling More Than Anything

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Shopping for a car can be a real pain. But according to a new survey, there's one thing that consumers hate above all else: negotiating the price of their new ride.

This isn't entirely surprising. Heck, that hatred led to the creation of an entire auto lineup: Saturn, and its no-hassle, no-haggle pricing. But the survey's stats showing exactly how much shoppers despise the back-and-forth took us a little aback.

The online study gathered responses from over 2,000 U.S. adults between June and July of this year. To keep the survey simple, the study asked consumers to recall their most recent car-buying experience and to rank four activities, from most pleasant to most annoying: researching vehicle makes and models, shopping and test-driving, arranging/negotiating financing, and negotiating the car's sale price.

The results were pretty clear. Doing research was favored by a whopping 66% of respondents, while taking test-drives came in a distant second, with just 15% of the vote. A very curious 11% said they enjoyed securing financing, and just 8% liked haggling over the vehicle's price.

Do we see a pattern? Of course we do.

Shoppers are clearly most comfortable when they feel they're in control. Researching is easy, done largely online, in the privacy of one's own home. Test-driving is similar, but it moves the research to the pressurized environment of the showroom, which diminishes comfort considerably.

Financing is still worse, though customers probably feel they maintain a bit of control over that situation, too. After all, they control their own finances and credit rating, and if they've secured a mortgage or a lower credit card rate, they've been through a similar process.

But haggling over car prices puts shoppers almost completely on the defensive, because they often feel as if they're not privy to a lot of hidden information. 


We should point out that this survey was sponsored by, which describes itself as "a website dedicated to providing lending to below-prime consumers and a resource for consumers seeking auto financing information".

As such, the company has an interest in proving that customers feel uncomfortable with the auto financing process. That essentially gives the opportunity to tell consumers, "We know you hate this part of the process, so we're going to simplify it."

On the other hand, the study's data isn't unexpected or outrageous. And in fact, it's nice to have some numbers to peg to consumer sentiment, even if the source of those numbers isn't what we'd call an objective third party.

Given the four activities ranked in the survey, how does your own experience measure up? Was haggling the least pleasant thing about your most recent car-shopping experience? Or was it something altogether different? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.

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Comments (4)
  1. Haggling is by far my least favorite part of the car purchase experience. The numbers that dealers throw at you is astounding. And now we seem to be in the era of extended warranties and pre-paid services (e.g. maintenance) that will allegedly help maintain the future value of your vehicle at trade-in.
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  2. I love haggling for a new car. I saw my Dad get a new car salesman so twisted up once he threw a clipboard across the office.

    The key is knowing what the dealer has in the car and refusing to buy until they come down to your price. At the end of the day, you need to negotiate the price of the new car, the value of your trade if there is one and the cost of money if you need a loan. That's it. Don't like haggling over it? Stay home.
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  3. I have no problem with haggling over a purchase price, even though I liked the Saturn experience. It was good to know that I didn't pay too much for the car compared to my neighbour. But researching the car and working out a final price was not a major concern as I like to bargain for things I purchase; it's quite an experience.
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  4. When "haggling" I already know the absolute factory price, less the "holdback" $ amount the dealer gets when a car is sold. Love to see dealer management squirm.
    The one thing to ALWAYS be able to do is WALK AWAY from the deal. You MUST get the car on your terms, not the dealer. That puts YOU in control.
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