You see it every year. Ads from automakers pushing the idea of buying a car for your spouse or significant other as a Christmas present. But I ask–does anyone really buy a car for a loved one as a Christmas present and put a massive bow on the roof? This seems like an idea wrought with problems.
First, how do you know what kind of car they want? Sure, one particular automaker might be having an end-of-year sale, and you know your loved one wants a crossover, so that narrows down to the make and model. Has your loved one driven this car? If not, how will you know they like it? What about one of the most important areas of preference when it comes to most car buyers– color. What if it is the wrong color?
And not just the exterior color. There is also the choice of interior swatches, not to mention interior features. Backup camera is a must, but what if significant other hates using the in-dash navigation versus a smartphone mounted to the dash? What if you didn’t get features like heated seats and satellite radio–will you look like you cheaped out?
Consider the finances? Are you going to be pay for this car yourself? Will you be making the payments yourself? Lots of couples do their finances jointly, so what if that $250 a month you are now spending was worked in to your love one’s financial calculous for the two of you for the next year?
Finally, there is the issue of returning the car if they really don’t like the one you’ve picked out for them. Dealers have built their entire business around fleecing you during the buying process, and if the car is new, it loses value the moment it drives off the lot. It’s not like returning a gold iPhone for a black or silver one. You will get hosed if you try to bring back one car and find the one they really want. Be ready for that.
The only time a car should be gifted as a Christmas present is if it is a clunker for one of your kids in high school or college. They don’t have much of a say in what type of car they get–they’re just happy to have the old Subaru Outback with 160,000 miles you’ve just given them.
This notion of a car as a Christmas present is forced into people’s brains by automakers with the massive bow on top (which is magnetic btw). The only people who should really do this are made of money and completely superficial With that in mind, be on the lookout for a Kardashian or Jenner posting new car on Instagram Friday morning.