Back again for another heaping spoonful of used-car-buying medicine? You already seem much better, but like what any doctor will tell you—you must finish your prescription.
Now, most auto industry blogs would be tempted to round out their article series at an even and unimaginative 10 posts; but the Driving Change Automotive Group isn’t just another group of dealerships. We like cranking up helpful advice to 11, baby!
In this, our penultimate article, we’re going to discuss the distinct challenges experienced during the ownership, research, and buying phases by both car enthusiasts/buffs/nerds and those who see vehicles as mere appliances for transportation.
Not sure where you fall along the spectrum? You’re about to find out.
You know you’re a car enthusiast when…
- You have a subscription to a car magazine. (x2 points if it’s made from dead trees and delivered to your mailbox)
- You know the manufacturer code for your vehicle’s model generation and engine.
- You’ve lamented the decline of manual transmission cars for sale.
- You’ve at one time owned a “parts” or “donor” car.
- You know what DCT, OBD, and LSD (no, not that one) stand for.
- You’ve made revving-engine noises past the age of 8.
- You visit parts of Europe or Asia and you can still name the vehicle models and brands.
- You know how to properly pronounce Lancia, Koenigsegg, and Porsche.
You know you’re a car layperson when…
- You have the same affection for your car as you do your dishwasher.
- When asked what kind of car you own, you pause and say, “a white/blue/silver/black/red one?”
- You’ve never opened your vehicle’s hood.
- You wouldn’t know how to open your vehicle’s hood, anyway.
- You’ve reached out to your friends, family, or social media network for car purchasing advice.
- You think The Stig is a piece of Ikea furniture.
- You got your driver’s license after the age and of 25, and only because you couldn’t find a bus route to work.
- You would rather crack open your university-level statistics textbook than read your vehicle owner’s manual.
Which category had you nodding your head? Congratulations—you’ve just been pigeonholed!
All right. So maybe most people are slightly more complex and nuanced than what their hobbies—vehicular or otherwise—might suggest.
However, we still maintain that auto enthusiasts shop for cars differently than auto amateurs. These differences, coincidentally, are where car-purchasing problems can arise for both groups.
The Current Vehicle Stage
Car enthusiasts tend to see the auto marketplace as a bountiful all-you-can-eat buffet. If money were no object, they would have a bit of everything. Ford, Chevy, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Audi, BMW, Volvo—they all have something to offer!
Unfortunately, most car fans have to reconcile a limited budget with grand tastes. Typically this results in:
As for not-interested folks, they have a tendency to treat their vehicle just like another appliance.
The advantage here is that they can look at the value of the car in a more objective light. (For example, are those repairs going to cost more than the vehicle is worth?)
On the other hand, car laypersons (since they’re not as emotionally invested in their vehicle) won’t typically perform the same level of care and maintenance on their vehicle—resulting in a car that will have a lower valuation and require expensive repairs sooner.
The Research Stage
Ask an auto buff what cars, trucks, and SUVs they recommend, and they will be happy to share their expertise. This is knowledge gathered over countless hours scouring journalist reviews, watching track tests on YouTube, and driving friends’ vehicles.
Unfortunately, many car enthusiasts, like other geeks, tend to be notorious fanboys/girls. More specifically, they will disparage and ignore competing auto brands and models while trumpeting their favourites. Sure, rivalries are fun, but they can impose unnecessarily small limits on candidate vehicles—making a search for the right used car more time consuming and difficult.
With car laypersons, the auto marketplace is a wide, foggy, and unfamiliar playing field. Aside from vague generalizations picked up over the years (e.g. Corvettes are fast and Toyotas are reliable), the layperson is often at a loss to know what kind of vehicle to get.
This is a golden opportunity for laypersons to spend some time studying objective sources for the right used car for their needs and budget. The major hurdle, however, is motivating an indifferent person to perform that research. Like voting in elections, apathy is damaging and it takes finding a personal stake to overcome.
The Buying Stage
During the purchasing stage of the process, car enthusiasts have the greatest advantage over laypersons. Since they’re more likely to have put in the research time to pin down the top two or three vehicles, all that’s left is to perform test drives and negotiate pricing—whether it’s a private sale or one through a dealership.
This higher level of confidence makes buying less stressful because the experienced enthusiast already knows which vehicle he or she is going to get, plus the price they ought to receive for both the car and the trade in.
Conversely, auto laypersons—provided they didn’t significantly bolster their knowledge in the meantime—sit at a big disadvantage. Chances are these less experienced buyers will have to spend more time visiting dealerships and learning about various models.
Furthermore, there’s a greater likelihood that they will spend too much money on a car that may not be the most suitable for their driving requirements—particularly if they’re a first-time purchaser.
Enthusiast or Not, Mindfulness is Mandatory
Were you expecting an easy way out? We hope not.
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.
Whether you get endless satisfaction researching, discussing, and, of course, driving cars, or it’s simply a means to get from A to B, the benefits to performing the research, setting a budget, and keeping your eyes open are innumerable.
And it’s the reason why we’ve written this Used Car Buyer’s Guide in the first place.
Only one more post to complete the collection!
How does it feel to be one step away from used vehicle nirvana? We’ll see you back here next Monday to go over the pros and cons of financing your car through the bank or dealership.
- #1 Inspections & Reconditioning
- #2 Get a CarProof Report
- #3 Consider the Remaining Warranty
- #4 How to Do a Test Drive
- #5 The Art of the Walk-Around Inspection
- #6 How Much to Budget for Monthly Payments
- #7 Make a List of Preferred Cars
- #8 The Truth About Admin Fees
- #9 How to Rethink Resale Value
What do you think?
- Do you have any other tell-tale signs that someone’s a car enthusiast? How about someone who couldn’t care less?
- How do you prepare before going out to buy a used vehicle? What are your trusted sources of information?
- With the sale of automated vehicles beginning in the not-too-distant future, will the number of car enthusiasts decline?