NEW YORK (BankingMyWay) -- Car shopping used to go something like this: For three or four weekends, maybe more, you trudged from dealership to dealership, trying this model and that, listening to sales pitch after sales pitch, reconsidering your budget, coming close to a decision and then wavering ... and finally, when you just couldn't take it any more or you fell in love, picked a car and drove it home.
Not anymore. At least, not quite. Armed with data gleaned from the Internet, many now make quick work of car shopping, often completing the process in just a few hours. But are car shoppers short-changing themselves? That's possible -- especially for those buying used vehicles.
Some 16% of car shoppers do not take even a single test drive, while 33% drive just one car, according to a survey of 2,000 consumers by auto-marketing firm DMEautomotive. Sixty-eight percent visited no more than two dealerships, and 40% just one. A decade ago, the typical shopper visited five dealerships.
And it's not because car shoppers feel they can rely on sales people to steer them right, as only 21% described sales folks as trustworthy.
A key reason for the gradual shortening of the car-shopping process is the rise of the Internet. Buyers now read reviews, check prices and weigh alternatives before leaving home. Their minds are pretty much made up by the time they reach the dealership.
"This avoidance of physical dealerships is in stark contrast with how much online vehicle research is happening: four in five people now use the Internet for car buying, visiting 10 auto websites in the process," said Mary Sheridan, manager of research and analytics at DMEa.