How to Car Debate
We all love The Everyday Drive Car Debate podcast. It is fun and informative tuning into Todd and Paul’s research and discussion of the best options for car shoppers based on needs, wants, budgets, and other criteria. Car Conclusions is also another great segment in which we get to hear about the vehicles that people writing in actually bought—usually after several months have passed.
Speaking from experience, it is very helpful listening to our hosts’ impartial deliberations. But what if you had to help a friend or family member find a new car? Major decisions such as these can put strain on close relationships—especially when you will see them drive their new ride (for better or worse) for years to come. This guide is meant to help with these high-stakes debates.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Needless to say, it is much harder to help someone choose a new car when you are close. Depending on the type relationship you share and its history, it can be downright challenging! First, be honored that someone has asked you for automotive advice. Then, try to keep your own car buying biases at bay. For example, a friend of mine agreed to let me use his experience as a case study. He recently asked me about buying versus leasing. I did my best to offer an objective take on both options. Personally, I drive way too much to make a lease work; however, given his mileage and budget, it made some sense, as he could potentially get more car for his money. In the end, he chose to buy, but he said it was helpful to discuss the pros and cons of each.
Stay in Your Lane
At one point, my friend was thinking of buying a Nissan Rogue. You may understand this is not an enthusiast’s first (or 100th) choice when considering a new vehicle. But I did my best not to judge or to sway his decision. He had some sound practical and financial reasons to decide on Nissan’s best-selling CUV. I did my best to respect this. I did encourage my friend to do some drive homework before making a decision, which he did. After some additional conversation, he confessed he was picking vehicles with too much emphasis on budget and that he was planning too far into the future. I asked him what he was looking for in a car right now—not in 5-10 years’ time. He answered that he would love to upgrade his WRX hatchback for something sporty and more comfortable. I offered some suggestions, he did more drive homework, and he found a great deal on a 2018 Audi A5 Sportback that was love at first sight.
It has been said that buying a car doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it can be a blast! Your friend or family member member may dread test drives, sales people, and negotiations. With some proper coaching, this entire process can be quite enjoyable. Modern dealerships are so much easier to, well, deal with. Many sales associates are no longer on commission, and they rely on building relationships with customers—rather than pressure tactics—to sell cars. This makes buying a car less stressful, so you can take your time to find what you really want. As he got closer to his final decision, my friend spent an entire weekend driving cars and meeting helpful dealership employees. Best of all, he texted me pictures and commentary the entire time so I could learn more about the cars myself. I also loved the vicarious shopping experience! We were both so excited when he brought his new Audi over for a visit, and we can’t wait to take it on a road trip soon.
If it were easy helping people choose the right car, the Car Debate podcast wouldn’t exist. It can be even more challenging to help someone you know well, as history and emotions are involved. In the end, helping a loved one buy a car can be difficult, but it can also bring you closer together. Sharing “the disease” with friends and family can, in all honesty, drive them a little nuts. Buy when you team up to make a purchasing decision, you can both benefit from the enthusiasm. As long as you remain objective, avoid taking over the process, and remember to have fun, you can serve others well by combining your knowledge of cars with your knowledge of that person to help them find the perfect fit.
Bill hosts a blog and YouTube channel that lead him to think more deeply about what it means to drive. The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.