The Internet is a versatile and cost-effective shopping tool for used-vehicle buyers and could make used-car newspaper classified ads obsolete.
That's according to the J.D. Power and Associates' Used Autoshopper.com Study, which reveals that more than 25 percent of used-vehicle buyers use the Internet to shop.
Chris Denove, director of consulting operations at Power and in charge of the study, said the Internet is more suited to used-vehicle shopping than new-vehicle shopping. New-vehicle buyers know which franchise sells the vehicle they want. Used-vehicle buyers, on the other hand, need help finding a seller.
'When you create hard copy (newspaper classified ads), it's not versatile; you list the car by year, or model or price range,' Denove said.
'The Internet lets users search any way they want - even distance from their home. It's likely that the Internet will replace traditional classifieds. That's true for more than just automotive.'
The study, released last week, is an analysis of how used-vehicle buyers use the Internet to find information.
It is based on responses from almost 10,000 people who purchased 1994 through 1999 model used vehicles.
Denove said used-vehicle buyers surf the Web for vehicle information such as price, safety, reliability, gas mileage and interior space.
The study showed:
The most frequently visited online locator site for the purpose of finding used vehicles for sale was autobytel.com. It was followed by Auto Trader Online (traderonline.com), Microsoft CarPoint (carpoint.com), autoweb.com and cars.com.
The most popular Web site for general used-vehicle and price information is the site operated by Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) followed by Consumer Reports' site (consumerreports.org); autobytel.com, Edmund's Online (edmunds.com) and Microsoft CarPoint.
Denove said the study also revealed some key demographic differences between late-model used- vehicle shoppers who use the Internet and those who do not.
For instance, the average age of the late-model used-vehicle buyers who go online is 40, compared with an average age of 50 for used-vehicle buyers who do not use the Internet.
Also, the annual household income of late-model used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet is $23,000 higher than buyers who do not use the it.
Denove said the study also indicates that about half of the used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet for shopping start out with the firm intention of buying a used vehicle.
The other half starts out either looking for a new vehicle or is undecided.