Posted in This Modern Life

Car Buying Made Simple

I’ve been reading Scott Adam’s blog throughout the election season, because his take on the phenomenon known as Trump has both a unique take and the volume turned down, at least so far as emotionalism goes. But lately he has worked himself into an insanity regarding buying a Chevy Truck, and reported that he cannot do it without feeling screwed.

So the answer to my question about why other people can buy trucks and I can’t is that I have a degree in economics and I’m trained in persuasion, so scams are more evident to me. There is literally no path to buying a truck that isn’t some form of dealer abuse on customers. I can’t willingly submit to abuse, and my cognitive dissonance isn’t strong enough to overcome it.

So I have no truck.

This is banana-pants to me. Everyone talks about buying a car or a truck as though it was an endeavor comparable to signing a missile treaty. It’s not. It’s purchasing, largely on credit, a complicated and expensive machine you understand poorly in order to have transportation. It’s a long-term commitment, and it’s pricey, so it’s easy to feel out of your depth.

I’m here to help. I’m not an expert on cars (or trucks), but I’ve bought them several times, and I have what I think is the solution to Scott’s problem and a general, low-stress way to buy vehicles.

  1. No matter what you do, you’re going to spend a lot of money. Stop worrying about “getting screwed”. Only people who buy lemons get screwed. You’re buying an expensive thing. Guess what? It costs a lot of money. Figure out how much you’re comfortable with spending, and don’t spend more than that.
  2. Features are unimportant. A car or truck is transportation. That’s what it does. If it does that for a number of years without requiring major mechanical overhaul, then it has performed its function. There are many different features because there are many different people who all want different things, and there are limited means of manufacture. It is highly unlikely to walk onto a lot and find the car you’ve been imagining in your head. If you need a specific car, with specific features, then you need to custom-order it. And you will pay for that. See #1.
  3. Never walk on the lot unless you know what you want to buy. Anyone who expects a car salesman to put your needs ahead of his is a fool. His job is not to fulfill your needs. His job is to make money while making you feel comfortable while he does it. He’s going to try to sell you what his dealership has a lot of. He’s going to try to maximize the price you pay, and minimize the value of your trade-in. That’s what he’s going to do. He’s not your friend. He’s a man trying to make money off of you. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but it does make him an unreliable source of information. Believe nothing he says. Instead, forearm yourself with Consumer Reports and other sources of info that expect no more from you than the cover price of a magazine. Then, decide what you want. Decide which features are important to you. Decided how much you want to spend.

And understand that you will probably get something that’s 70%-80% of your ideal. That’s how the world works. Be okay with that, and you won’t feel screwed. And you’ll actually be able to buy a car.

Author:

I write and publish things with the speed of a hare and the determination of a tortoise. I am building it; it will come.

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