CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A new CarGurus study suggests that a car dealer's candor and responsiveness carry significant weight with an online shopper and can make or break a sale, sometimes even before the consumer meets the dealer in person.

The auto research and shopping Website’s study examined 1,000 dealerships reviews posted by car shoppers in a six-month span. Poor communication and deceptive business practices were the dominant themes in the negative reviews, while friendly service and timely communication were cited most often in positive consumer reviews.

For each dealer review submitted, consumers rated dealers on a scale of one (negative) to five (positive) stars and were asked to provide written comments about their experience. Of the reviews analyzed, 34 percent had one or two star ratings, 10 percent had three stars, and 56 percent had four or five stars.

"For most car shoppers today, the dealer relationship begins online, and that has changed the game for consumers and dealers alike," said Langley Steinert, founder and CEO of CarGurus. "In this age of online information transparency, reputation matters more than ever. The dealers that have embraced this new online paradigm are winning customers.”

For dealers that don’t, Steinert said they risk alienating not just one prospective customers, but all customers who find them online. Below are the Top 5 consumer complaints about car dealers:

1. No Response: Consumers complained that some dealers failed to respond to e-mail or phone inquiries about an advertised car.

2. Bait and Switch: Consumers cited instances in which a car they viewed at the dealer's site did not match the advertisement or the dealer claimed the car had “just been sold" when the consumer visited the dealership.

3. Communications Disconnect: Consumers cited frustrations in getting accurate, prompt answers from dealer staff via email. Others cited inconsistent communications between the dealer's online staff and showroom staff.

4. Unsatisfactory Customer Service: Consumers cited instances of rude, arrogant or uninformed service from dealers. Others indicated they do not like feeling pressured to buy and complained that aggressive communication and arrogant attitudes from some dealers were a turnoff.

5. Time Wasted: Consumers complained of the time spent chasing answers from the dealer or time wasted driving to the dealership only to find the car no longer available. In some cases, consumers complained they were made to wait despite having scheduled an appointment or asked to fill out lengthy paperwork before they were able to see the car they wanted.

The following are Top 5 reasons consumers love car dealers

1. Friendly, Professional Service: Many consumers with good dealer experiences commented on dealers that were sensitive to their unique needs, and they commended specific salespeople and expressed future loyalty.

2. Fast Response. Many positive consumer reviews praised dealers for their quick response to online inquiries about a car.

3. Accurate Answers: Consumers were grateful for dealers' willingness to provide detailed answers via e-mail or phone rather than pushing for a location visit. Dealers that provided candid, accurate information about the car being considered received high marks.

4. Clean Dealerships, Clean Car Interiors: Many favorable reviews commented on the cleanliness of the dealership and on the appearance of the used car's interior.

5. Good Prices: Consumers who felt they had purchased a car at a competitive or fair price were generally pleased with their dealer.