Buying AdviceOpinion

Why You Shouldn’t Ask an Auto Industry Friend for Purchase Advice

Woman having a test drive while salesperson standing besides car

If you’re fortunate enough to know someone who is an automotive journalist, or someone who works in the industry, you’re probably tempted to go to them when it comes time to buy a new car and ask them what they should purchase. This is a bad idea, and I’m here to explain exactly why that’s the case.

Reason One: You’ve Already Made Up Your Mind

Cars are an emotional purchase, and odds are you’re drawn to something specific already. You are hoping that through the process of determining what car, truck, or SUV would be right for you that we happen to stumble across the one you really like. Basically, you’re looking for validation for something you already decided that you want.

But odds are we won’t come to that conclusion because…

Reason Two: Car Buying Isn’t Rational

That’s right. As I’ve said buying a car is just as an emotional experience as a practical one. Even if you’re someone who only uses a car “as an appliance,” I’m sure we can come across cars you wouldn’t want to drive, even if we determined they’re exactly what you need.

Here’s what I’d recommend to friends who are in the following groups;

  • What’s a good entry-level car? Honda Civic
  • I have a couple of kids, what should I get? Chrysler Pacifica
  • If I want a sporty-ish sedan at a good price, what should I get? Ford Fusion Sport
  • I’m having a midlife crisis and want a reliable sports car without going crazy, what should I get? Mazda Miata
  • What should I get if I want a luxury sedan? Genesis G80
  • I just bought a house and doing some renovations, should I get a truck and what should I get? Honda Ridgeline

I put a minivan on my list of recommended vehicles if you want a good family car. People are probably already shunning all of my advice. Yet, from a practicality point-of-view, nothing beats a minivan.

The same applies for the sedans I have listed and no crossovers. Cars tend to have better fuel economy, and wagons will give you a lot of the space of a crossover without the pump penalty.

Yet, crossovers are selling like proverbial hotcakes and cars are seemingly going the way of the Dodo bird.

It’s because people buy cars with emotions, and there are certain stigmas attached to the cars I’d recommend that’d prevent people from buying them.

We Won’t Necessarily Buy What We Recommend

Of all of the vehicles I recommended on the list above, the Mazda Miata is probably the only one — maybe the Civic, too — that I’d buy with my own money. Why? Purely emotional reasons. I’d be the silly guy driving around in the completely uncomfortable and impractical Alfa Romeo 4C. I’d get a Ford Raptor or a Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro because they appeal to my desire to conquer all terrains.

But if I’m advising you, I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong, and often take the emotional element out of my recommendations.

So What Should I Do?

Don’t ask me for advice on what car to buy, buy something different, then complain about how you made the wrong choice. Instead, come to me and ask me about a specific car. “Hey, I was looking at a Honda CR-V. What do you think?”

I’d say, “It’s reliable, reasonably affordable, and recently updated. I have no qualms with that vehicle.” That way you’re still getting my opinion on the car you’re interested in. Also, be sure to check out reviews from multiple sources before you buy. Just like any other industry, we have our own biases and preferences, and only one review or video won’t give you the full picture of what the car is actually like.


Chad Kirchner
the authorChad Kirchner
In addition to Chad Kirchner's work here, he's a freelance automotive journalist for outlets around the world.

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