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Five Reasons Why I Won’t Tell People What Car To Buy

Posted in Car Buying, Car Deals, Car Reviews, Cars, Funny, General, Guide, New Cars, Tips by Kurt Ernst | June 29th, 2010 | 14 Responses |

'Buy the one without the giant sign on it'. Photo: Fail Blog

I’ve always been a car guy, since the time I was old enough to hold a gas pump in my hand and race HO scale slot cars. As I got older, a lot of people would ask me for advice on what car to buy, based on my knowledge and experience. Now that I write about cars for a living, the number of questions I get has only ramped up.

A few years back I made it my policy to not give advice on what car to buy, and below are my reasons. I’ll give you an unbiased opinion of any car I drive, but don’t ask me if you should buy one or not. Here’s why.

No matter how sound the advice, people will generally buy what they want.

'All German cars are reliable, right?'

When friends or relatives used to ask me “what should I buy”, I’d spend hours doing research and building comparative spreadsheets. Now matter how much effort I put into it, no matter how much documentation I provided on what to buy and what to avoid, my friends and relatives usually bought what they wanted, regardless of advice. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I’m not insane, so I no longer give purchase advice to friends and relatives.

If they buy what you recommend, every problem is your fault.

'You never told me I'd have to change brake pads.'

Especially true with used cars, this also applies to new cars as well. What happens when a new car is recalled by the manufacturer six months after purchase? Friends, family and relatives look at me like I should have known this. What happens when the brake rotors require replacement 20,000 miles after a buddy buys a used car? I should have warned him about it.

As much as I know about cars, I can’t tell you what models will be recalled next year, and I can’t tell you what’s going to go wrong with your 100,000 mile Hyundai in 18 months. I’m good, but I’m not that good.

Endless whining about “I should have bought this instead”

'A Smart would have been better on gas, and I could still tow my 20' boat with it'

If you actually have friends and relatives buy a car you recommend, be prepared for endless whining about the car they really wanted. Unless you enjoy a five year guilt trip, it’s best to just nod you head when people talk about what cars to buy. Unless they take that as agreement, in which case you still get the prolonged guilt trip. Face the facts; your friends don’t want advice, they want validation of their choice.

Why didn’t you tell me to wait for better price / newer model / bigger engine?

'But you never told me the 2025 Ford Fiesta would fly.'

The internet has really improved the flow of information from automakers to the general public. Anyone with access to a computer can find pricing and new model information from any manufacturer, but that doesn’t always fit into their purchase schedule. Recommend a particular car, and be prepared for comments like, “I would have waited if you told me a new model would be released in two years.”

This just in, folks: manufacturers are constantly updating their product lines. Car models are like sharks; unless they keep moving forward, they die. It doesn’t matter when you buy a car, there will always be something better just around the corner.

I don’t want to have to handle the dealer negotiations.

'Take the window etching cost off or I'll hit you again.'

One of the unique skills I have is negotiating with car dealers, because I always approach it as a business transaction with no emotion involved. Let’s face it, if I can’t get the deal I want from Stealership A, all I need to do is keep shopping until I find one willing to sell me the car I want at the price I want. That said, car shopping is a giant pain in the ass that takes a lot of preparation (knowing costs for the specific make, model and trim level, knowing holdback, knowing current incentives to dealers and the public, etc.) and a lot of energy. Throwing down against a car salesman is no different from any other contact sport; there comes a time when you’re happy to fight your own battles, but don’t see a reason to fight other people’s battles for them.

That’s not to say I’d throw a family member to the wolves, but I’m sure as hell not going to go with my cousin’s friend to try and negotiate a better price on a Nissan GT-R lease. For which he’s trading in a 1990 Hyundai Sonata. That doesn’t run. I’m a firm believer in being prepared, and experience tells me that other car buyers rarely are.

Feel free to ask me what car to buy, and I’ll tell you the same thing I tell friends and family: buy whatever car you really want. Life is too short to be miserable behind the wheel.

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14 Responses

  1. jacques says:

    i never saw it that way. i even disaproved a friend’s purchase. thanks for the enlightment.

  2. Scott G says:

    excellent as always

  3. Dave says:

    I know what you mean Kurt. I work in the IT field for the USCG, and I constantly have friends\family asking what video card, mobo, monitor, processor, or off-the-shelf system they should buy. Some of the exact same things happen; a new video card is put out 3 months after they bought theirs, so how come I didn’t tell them to wait for that one? “Well I know you said buy nVidia\ATI, but I like ATI\nVidia more so I bought that one instead.” “That HDD crashed, why did you tell me to but it?” This is of course after they’ve called me to try and fix it for them.

  4. Kurt says:

    So Dave, I have this old Win XP laptop, and it needs a new….

  5. Dave says:

    Kurt, you should buy a Ford F-150, and drive it right on top of your laptop. It’ll solve ALL your problems….

  6. Jim says:

    I love this guy. You hit EVERY point I make too! lol You know what REALLY kills me though? When another family member tells someone else in the family what car to get; they can’t even do an oil change, then the family member goes off to buy it right away. I fix houses, boats, motorcycles, cars, computers, was an air traffic controller, and now going to school for medial laboratory sciences AND can cook a damn fine risotto. What the fuck do I know. lol

  7. Kurt says:

    Jim, how are you at brewing beer?

  8. Jim says:

    Well Kurt. Funny you ask, I JUST got a kit but haven’t had the chance at making a batch yet. Been extremely busy.

  9. Rankin says:

    Dave, same thing for me with computers… I usually ask what they want to spend and i’ll pick something from a major manufacturer with a warranty. I also make sure they know any work from me will be billed my normal fee. Kurt, great points here another fine read here at ridelust.

  10. thefritz says:

    Hey Bro, your advice on passing on that used Yugo was spot on…wished I’d listened…

  11. Jake says:

    In my opinion it is. I’d love to have a Yugo.

  12. Ross says:

    Damn straight. Though 20 yrs later I still get thanked for the one time it all went well; trick there was it was they had no interest in cars so I got her into a Toyota with original paint. Done. I’ve done the spreadsheets for people etc… it’s amazing the amount of good advice someone won’t take, or ask for when they so obviously ought have (like even when I own the same type of car LMAO)