Americans may be in love with their cars, but they're far less enamored of shopping for them.

That's the overriding con-clusion of the just-released CarsDirect.com Car Buying Survey, which polled 1,000 Americans to uncover how they felt about their most recent car-buying experience.

Dissatisfaction is widespread: almost 36% of the respondents said they paid too much for the vehicle; 28% said they spent too much time on the purchasing process; and 24% didn't get exactly the color or options they wanted.

Car shoppers also lamented that they "didn't understand the financing terms" (9%) and "waited too long for delivery" (6%).

The survey contained its share of revealing insights:

Women proved to be less confused by financing terms than men; married people are more attuned to - and turned off by - the time-consuming nature of car shopping than singles; the higher the level of education, the less satisfying consumers find the traditional car-buying process; and, Gen X stereotypes aside, younger car shoppers are willing to forgo options and indulgences in the cars they buy.

"For many people, buying a car is an ordeal," says Scott Painter, CEO of CarsDirect.com, the Internet car company, which commissioned Market Facts to conduct the survey.

CarsDirect.com lets on-line consumers research, price, select, finance, order and take delivery of a new vehicle.

A demographic breakdown of survey respondents provides further clues about car-buying concerns:

* Men and women (36.3% vs. 36% respectively) are almost equally likely to believe they paid too much for their last car. Men are slightly more likely to express frustration with time spent on the buying process (30% vs. 26%), but women are more than twice as likely to say that delivery took too long (9% vs. 3.5%).

* Men are twice as likely to be confused by financing terms as women (8% vs. 4%).

* Married folks are far more likely to complain about the time spent with the process than did single people (33% vs. 21%).

Age, likewise, plays a role: Respondents in the 55-64 age group are most likely to have concerns about price (45.5%), but they were least likely to worry about the time spent buying a car (13%).

The most impatient car buyers are those in the 25-to-34 group (40%), but the youngest buyers, aged 18-24, are most likely to end up with a car without the features and options they wanted (36%).

Car-buyers with the highest incomes (more than $75,000) complained most about the amount of time buying a car takes (39.5%). Those with the lowest incomes didn't worry about time as much (16%).

Education matters, too: The higher the degree of education, the less the respondents feel they paid too much (27% for post-graduates, 34% for college and 42% for high school or less).