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Used Car Shoppers Spending More
Time Online

Shoppers Concentrate More on Independent Sites

While the rate of growth of used-vehicle buyers using the Internet during the shopping process has leveled off, those who use the medium for this purpose are spending more time online, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Used Study.

The study, which examines the role of the Internet in the used-vehicle shopping process, finds that the average amount of time spent by automotive Internet users shopping for a used vehicle online has climbed 15 percent-from 4.8 hours in 2002 to 5.5 hours in 2003. Forty-seven percent of used-vehicle buyers have used the Internet during the shopping process in 2003, which is unchanged from 2002 levels. These shoppers visit an average of 10.5 sites throughout the online shopping process, concentrating more on independent sites than on manufacturer or dealer sites.

"As in the new-vehicle market, price-related information is most important to online shoppers," said Chris Denove, partner at J.D. Power and Associates. "Used-vehicle buyers also place a premium on impartial vehicle reliability information, trade-in values and even new-vehicle pricing. Unlike most dealer and manufacturer sites, many independent automotive sites are well positioned to meet all of these critical needs."

The study finds that 53 percent of used-vehicle buyers visit the Kelley Blue Book ( site, which is more than any other site. continues to gain in popularity among used-vehicle buyers, highlighting a growing consumer migration away from published classified ads and toward Internet vehicle listings. Nine percent of used-vehicle buyers now locate their vehicle through an online classified-up from only 4 percent in 2000. The use of traditional classifieds has fallen from 13 percent to 11 percent in that same time frame.

"While newspaper classifieds are still an important tool, the success of online classifieds illustrates the impact the Internet has had on the used-vehicle shopping process," said Denove. "Organizations such as, with its sister magazine AutoTrader, as well as, with its national network of newspaper classifieds, have a long history of success playing at both ends of this used-vehicle marketing field."

The study also finds that European brands have the highest concentration of automotive Internet users among their used-vehicle buyers. Conversely, the Domestic makes have the highest concentration of buyers who do not use the Internet at all. Luxury buyers are more likely than non-luxury buyers to use the Internet for used-vehicle shopping and research.

The 2003 Used Study is based on responses from nearly 15,000 owners of used vehicles who purchased pre-owned 1998-2003 model-year vehicles.

Click here for more information, including the full study.