Canadians Want an Easier and More Transparent Vehicle Purchasing Experience


As dealerships continue to face inventory shortages, the process of purchasing a vehicle is becoming even more challenging. A recent survey by Clutch found that 84 per cent of car purchasers wish the process of shopping for a car was easier, with 76 per cent stating they would prefer to spend less time visiting dealerships to find the right car and 71 per cent agreeing that they would prefer not to negotiate with commissioned salespeople.

“It’s not surprising that Canadians have grown tired of the dated car-buying experience where they’re required to spend hours of their valuable spare time travelling between dealerships, haggling with salespeople or combing through the classifieds,” said Dan Park, CEO of Clutch. “A car is the second largest purchase that most people will make in their lifetime, yet so many Canadians dislike the car purchasing experience.”

The survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Clutch revealed that:

  • More than half (55 per cent) of those who purchased a vehicle from a dealership in the past 2 years cite a sense that they needed more information
  • Forty-three per cent of Canadian car buyers outright state that they do not enjoy the process of shopping for or purchasing a vehicle from a dealership, this is especially true in the prairies (59 per cent Saskatchewan/Manitoba)
  • Twenty-one per cent of car buyers have felt taken advantage of
  • Twenty-seven per cent of Canadian car buyers say they do not trust salespeople to give them all the relevant details about a car and offer a fair price

A lack of trust in dealers and dealerships appears to be a driving cause of the difficult car-buying experience. The majority of car shoppers indicate that when it comes to levels of trust in used car dealers to provide all relevant details about a car and offer a fair price, 83 per cent either do not trust or only somewhat trust the sales person.

When it comes to effective solutions to improve the car-buying process, more than half of Canadian car purchasers (58 per cent) cite pricing transparency, followed by 38 per cent who want the option to test drive the car for multiple days, 37 per cent who want to skip the interactions with commission-based salespeople, and 32 per cent who desire more online options to skip the dealership all together. Only 12 per cent of recent car purchasers state that nothing needs to be changed, that the current dealership experience makes sense.

“It’s clear that Canadians are ready for an improved car-buying process that no longer leaves them feeling taken advantage of,” said Park. “We designed Clutch with a customer-first approach so that when customers visit our website, they’re not being sold a car by a pushy salesperson, they’re buying a car that best suits their needs.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic may have initially led many Canadians to stay off the roads, they are now back behind the wheel with many ready for a new vehicle and eager to step away from the traditional dealership experience. Of those who recently purchased a car or plan to in the next two years, 61 per cent indicate they would consider purchasing a car online without seeing it in person first.

“At one point in time, people would have thought that purchasing a car online was absurd,” says Park. “But once the pandemic struck and demand for contactless services skyrocketed, more Canadians began to explore online retail experiences like Clutch which is rooted in convenience, transparency and affordability.”

With Clutch’s customer-first approach, the features on its website will be extremely enticing to the large population of Canadians who want to make a confident and informed decision when purchasing their next vehicle. Those features include:

  • Transparency of Vehicle Information: Each car listed on goes through a rigorous 210-point inspection to ensure reliability, with both the inspection report and a free Carfax report being available directly on the listing page. High-resolution photos with a 360-degree tour of the interior, exterior and vehicle flaws are also available.
  • 10 Day Test-Own: All Clutch vehicles come with a 10-day test-own period with a full money-back guarantee, giving customers the time to see how the vehicle fits into their everyday life.
  • Competitive Pricing: By removing the overhead costs associated with the traditional dealership model, like fancy showrooms and commissioned-based salespeople, Clutch is able to pass savings onto customers and offer competitive pricing.
  • Customer Support: Clutch’s customer support team is there every step of the way, from the moment a customer asks their first question to the moment that they deliver the car directly to the customer’s home.
  • Convenience: Clutch allows Canadians to browse thousands of quality vehicles from the comfort of their own home while accessing a fully-digital purchasing experience, which includes financing, insurance, and seamless home delivery.

“Ultimately, we want Canadians to enjoy the process of making a milestone purchase like a car,” said Park. “We’re raising the bar for customer service in automotive retail, and from our report, it’s clear that Canadians are ready for the improved experience.”

Other findings from the Clutch report include:

  • When it comes to car buying, 39 per cent agree salespeople have more information than they are providing and 28 per cent state that commissioned salespeople prevent them from feeling in control when purchasing a used vehicle.
  • Among the 79 per cent of car buyers who prefer to bring someone along — a figure significantly higher among women (89 per cent women vs. 69 per cent men) — with 36 per cent indicating that they do so because they do not feel they are taken seriously, highlighting the lack of trust between car buyer and seller.
  • Canadian car purchasers are looking for more transparency around the vehicle price and valuation (30 per cent), more vehicle history information before visiting the dealership (21 per cent), access to a Carfax report (15 per cent) and better pictures and videos of the vehicles (14 per cent).
  • Three-quarters (76 per cent) of car buyers believe there is a lack of transparency between sales reps and customers.
  • When visiting a dealership, only 13 per cent of Canadian car purchasers state that they enjoy the process and feel like they are totally in control.
  • Before purchasing a car online, Canadian car purchasers have conditions:
    • Thirty-nine per cent of those surveyed would want access to view owner and vehicle service history.
    • Thirty-eight per cent want to be given reassurance that they would be able to return the vehicle if they are not entirely happy with it.
    • More than a third (36 per cent) would want access to high-quality images of the interior, exterior, and existing vehicle flaws.

Three in ten (30 per cent) want to speak with a customer support person when choosing their vehicle so they can ask questions.