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Is it really just new car fever?

Is it really just new car fever?

I’ve heard lots of people talk about getting a new car, and they’ve usually given one of the following reasons for getting one:

  • We needed a bigger car for the baby/dogs/camping gear/2 times per year we need to haul something/etc.
  • Well, it was x years old and things were going to start going wrong with it soon.
  • We had to replace the ______ last month and don’t want to keep putting money into it.
  • We needed better gas mileage and we owed too much to just sell the old one.

Those all sound like rationalizations to me.

Rarely have I heard someone say that they just wanted a new car, or a bigger car.

I’m sure there are people that say that, but I’m the only person I can think of offhand who has done so. When I did, it was more along the lines of “Oh I love that car! Have you seen them? I want one!”

And then I actually went and bought one, after about a year of reading the classifieds every day to find one I could possibly afford. And then I happily sold off the lemon of a car that I hated.

But I was under no illusions: I wasn’t buying a new car to replace my lemon. I was buying a new (to me) car because I wanted it so badly I could taste it. Getting rid of my old car was just a bonus.

Of course, sometimes people buy replacement cars when they don’t really want to, but they feel like it’s the best alternative. (Such as when their existing car was totaled.)

But I wonder, why the need to rationalize a big purchase like a car so much of the time? Wouldn’t it be ok to buy it just because you wanted it? (And if it’s not ok, why not?)

View Comments (3)
  • My experience is that people do not like it when you “brag” by saying you bought something because you wanted it (as opposed to when you need it).

    People are envious. Weird, too, but mostly envious. :P

  • I ended up buying a new car over the 4th of July weekend. I didn’t want too, but living with only one car was becoming too difficult to continue.

    My old car was 15 years old with only 90k miles on it. I had gotten it used 5 years ago for $2000 with only 10k miles on it and had to put $2k into it to replace all the rubber hoses. My parents actually paid for the car and the work as a college graduation gift. In the week before I traded it in, I blew two head gaskets and three starters. My transmission was also starting to slip very badly. Unfortunately it didn’t qualify for the CARS program (26 mpg rating, though when it worked I was getting 32 mpg).

    I was content to keep repairing it, as long as it was under $4k per year, though in one month I topped that, and the transmission was going to have to be replaced before year end. My wife wanted it gone years ago. Unfortunately, we both work the same hours but both have a half hour commute… in opposite directions.

    We had been looking at new cars, though small SUV’s for their carrying capacity (we do a lot of outdoor activities, have a dog to transport, and are trying for a kid). Ended up getting something much smaller (Toyota Yaris) and much cheaper ($14,000 as compared to $20+) instead.

    My reason for a new car was reliability (to replace the headache of never knowing if my car was going to start and if so finish the trip every time I used it). My wife’s reason is she wanted a new car.

    We ended up going with a new car because of the time frame. We were looking at cars of one type when mine died, and I preferred to replace it with a fuel efficient model. Looking at used cars for immediate purchase scares me because for the most part you are buying someone else’s problems. We could have paid cash for the car, but because of the holiday (and more the economy) we financed the car for 60 months at 0% APR and the cash in in a 60 month CD at 3.2% We can live with the monthly payments without touching our savings, and have a safety net in the CD if anything drastic happens.

    I don”t give the reason “because I wanted one” because that isn’t the underlying reason. More correct would be “because I didn’t want my old one anymore”.

  • Cayenne, interesting, I never thought about that possibly being considered bragging.

    Ladam8518, that’s a heck of a lot to have go wrong on a car in a week. I’d want to get rid of it too. (After I got done crying…)

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