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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Afterthoughts: Don't Ask Me For Car Buying Advice

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      Trying to figure out a better way of giving advice

    Whenever someone finds out that I'm an automotive writer, sooner or later I will get asked "I'm looking for 'x' vehicle and I was wondering if you could help me out," or some other variation. These are the times where I wish I could make a smoke cloud appear, allowing me to make an escape. But alas, that is only a dream.

     

    This is a common thing that a number of us - automotive writers - tend to get whether it is from family, friends, or some random stranger. We want to try and help, but most of the time the suggestions seem to go nowhere. It comes down to various reasons such as none of the ideas are appealing or the person going in a completely different direction (wanted a sedan, now interested in a crossover).

     

    But I also believe that we as a group need to take some of the blame as we sometimes try to push someone into a vehicle they are not interested or vice versa. I learned this at an early age when I was trying to push my parents away from leasing a Ford Freestyle due to the poor reviews it got in the automotive press. They ended up with one and I ate my fair amount of crow as I grew to like the Freestyle.

     

    Other times, it seems that the suggestions we give out are a bit ridiculous. For example, recommending someone getting a high-performance wagon when all they want is a crossover. I can't help but wonder if some of the suggestions I have heard are due to someone trying to live vicariously through another person.

     

    Aside from wishing I could throw on an invisibility cloak whenever this question is asked, I have been trying figure out what could be the best way to help someone while giving myself some plausible deniability. It hit me recently when I was at friend’s birthday gathering. I was chatting with my friend’s dad and he asked me about what car should he recommend to a co-worker. She was looking at a BMW X3 and wanted to know if this was a good choice. Plus, was there any other vehicles she should consider?

     

    To get my mind in the right place, I found myself asking a lot of questions.

    • Did she have kids?
    • What are her big considerations?
    • Are there types of vehicles or brands she doesn’t want to deal with?
    • How much does she want to spend?


    So on and so forth. It was a version of twenty questions where there is no correct answer and somehow less fun. Once I had gotten enough information to get my mind working, I began to recommend a few vehicles that are worth a closer look such as the Audi Q5, Lincoln MKC, and Subaru Outback. I also said the new X3 is quite good and would possibly consider going with a certified pre-owned model for a slightly lower price and warranty.

     


    After having this conversation, it hit me: I had figured out a possible fool proof way of offering car advice. It comes down to me taking on the role of a guide where I ask a person what they are and are not interested in, and build out a group of vehicles that I can show someone that possibly fits what they are looking.

     

    I don't know what the co-worker ended up choosing and I hope to find out in the near future.

     

    So if you want to ask me what car you want to buy, be prepared to answer a lot of questions and not be given a definitive answer. You might be annoyed by this, but the end result is hopefully you finding a car that works. Plus, we might be on speaking terms after this.

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    So ya want to help me pick out a compact SUV? Joking.....lol....

     

    Yep, tends to be true when you are the car guy-people want you to tell them what is "best"...and quite often they have no idea what they even want! I've been able to help some, but with others you can only shake your head....

     

    Hear you on the crow part, kind eating a little myself! Wasn't thrilled about my parents getting a Town & Country. Figured it would be nothing but problems. So far, in four years it's been pretty flawless-and the few issues it did have FCA told care of it right away. Impressed so far....

     

    I think even us can be a bit confused on what we want as well. When you know all the info about all of the cars, but make a different choice anyways. Here I am thinking the Nox' would be an easy choice-but with my son heavy into scouts and camping now- the Jeep Patriot has reentered the radar as a purchase. Believe it or not, because of the space I can put stuff.....amazing the things you consider as a parent! That, and the buyout is quite cheap (can dump it on the wife for something else)

     

    Still tough either way.....

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    So true, the best thing us auto people can do is to flip the questions back at the asker. After all, what we think is best, what we like and what works for us is very different for others and unless the asker knows what they want and can objectively come to the asking questions of based on reviews and reliability, what are my options for this class, this type of auto, it is a mess to give any advice.

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    Had a few cars that I recommended need more than one service for issues while under warranty so I stop short of recommending anymore.

     

    I also suggest they "check into" certain vehicles they might like, short of a recommendation, and make sure I sound uncertain about the reliability, telling them to make sure they do the research on that.




     

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    Guest car shopper

    Posted

    If you don't want people seeking your advice on what car to buy, then why did you choose to become an automotive writer? These people likely ask for your advice or opinion because they think you are an expert on the topic. Unfortunately, most auto writers are not. 

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    If you don't want people seeking your advice on what car to buy, then why did you choose to become an automotive writer? These people likely ask for your advice or opinion because they think you are an expert on the topic. Unfortunately, most auto writers are not. 

     

    I'll direct you this comment

     

    Most people asking for car buying advice don't actually want advice... they just want you to justify the decision they already made so they can say "Well a car guy told me this was the best choice"

    It isn't I don't like giving advice, but it seems most people have their made up. Basically, I try to guide the process along with said vehicle along with a few other choices.

    I'm willing to help out someone, but I can't be sure if it's because they need justification or actual help.

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    If you don't want people seeking your advice on what car to buy, then why did you choose to become an automotive writer? These people likely ask for your advice or opinion because they think you are an expert on the topic. Unfortunately, most auto writers are not. 

     

    Because reviewing cars is different than giving advice as to which car a certain person should buy..... and as I also pointed out above, often those people already made a decision on what they are buying or have bought, and just hoping you'll justify their choice. 

     

    My favorite question I get </s> is "What's the best car to buy?"..... that's it... no qualifying criteria, no budget, nothing.   I like to answer "The Bugatti Veyron, it'll run you a million dollars".... to which they answer "Oh, I have an Accord LX... is that a good car?".... to which I reply... "Sure, but it's not a Veyron".

     

    If you don't want people seeking your advice on what car to buy, then why did you choose to become an automotive writer? These people likely ask for your advice or opinion because they think you are an expert on the topic. Unfortunately, most auto writers are not. 

     

    I'll direct you this comment

     

    Most people asking for car buying advice don't actually want advice... they just want you to justify the decision they already made so they can say "Well a car guy told me this was the best choice"

    It isn't I don't like giving advice, but it seems most people have their made up. Basically, I try to guide the process along with said vehicle along with a few other choices.

    I'm willing to help out someone, but I can't be sure if it's because they need justification or actual help.

     

     

    I do the same thing.... I find out what they are most interested in and then also suggest viable alternatives they might not have thought about. 

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    All I see when people ask car questions–whether it's car buying or car modding–is that they have tons of preconceived bias that they want you to confirm, and will actively defend their ignorance when you disagree.

     

    A google search gives these people just enough information to be dangerous.

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    If you don't want people seeking your advice on what car to buy, then why did you choose to become an automotive writer? These people likely ask for your advice or opinion because they think you are an expert on the topic. Unfortunately, most auto writers are not.

    So the only reason why one should write about cars is so people can seek their advice and if they're not going to give said advice, then they shouldn't even bother writing? That's certainly news to me and makes zero sense.

    Why don't you join C&G guest car shopper? Great discussions to be had here!

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    On 5/9/2016 at 2:16 PM, Frisky Dingo said:

    Try being a car salesman.

    That must be an insane job...dealing with the moronic public on a daily basis...

    On 5/9/2016 at 3:11 PM, cp-the-nerd said:

    All I see when people ask car questions–whether it's car buying or car modding–is that they have tons of preconceived bias that they want you to confirm, and will actively defend their ignorance when you disagree.

     

    A google search gives these people just enough information to be dangerous.

    People are so unwilling to consider alternate ideas it is almost frightening....not just cars...everything from politics to restaurant choices also...

    On 5/9/2016 at 2:41 PM, William Maley said:

     

    I'll direct you this comment

     

    It isn't I don't like giving advice, but it seems most people have their made up. Basically, I try to guide the process along with said vehicle along with a few other choices.

    I'm willing to help out someone, but I can't be sure if it's because they need justification or actual help.

    Given that our highways are filled with the most boring bland sedans and crossovers imaginable and every one of them is painted black, silver or ....black or silver....and I think they need creativity and willingness to take some risks in life more than they need advice.

    It is a good thing people are more willing to take sexual risks than automotive ones....because if everyone lacked sexual imagination like the buying public lacks automotive imagination, our species would die out from lack of procreation.

    • Upvote 2

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    19 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

    That must be an insane job...dealing with the moronic public on a daily basis...

    People are so unwilling to consider alternate ideas it is almost frightening....not just cars...everything from politics to restaurant choices also...

    Given that our highways are filled with the most boring bland sedans and crossovers imaginable and every one of them is painted black, silver or ....black or silver....and I think they need creativity and willingness to take some risks in life more than they need advice.

    It is a good thing people are more willing to take sexual risks than automotive ones....because if everyone lacked sexual imagination like the buying public lacks automotive imagination, our species would die out from lack of procreation.

     

    I actually wish our kind WOULD stop taking those sexual risks. We'd all be a lot better off.

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      So when PSA made their official announcement in 2016, some of my worries began to drift away.
      PSA would also conduct extensive research into the U.S. marketplace to determine which brand would take the charge. The end goal was to possibly have a brand in the country by 2026. Possibly is the keyword as they made clear that could pass on this idea if various conditions weren't met.
      Since that announcement, PSA has been making some inroads into this plan,
      Establishing a North American office and bringing in Larry Dominique (formerly of Nissan and TrueCar) as the head Launching a ride-sharing and car sharing app in various U.S. cities Starting to develop vehicles for the U.S. The most recent announcement of Peugeot as the lead brand surely disappointed some folks as the likes of the C4 Cactus and DS5 would not arriving. But the decision does show the amount of thought and work that has been happening behind the scenes. 
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      Let's begin with design. Out of all of the brands under the PSA umbrella, Peugeot plays it very much safe in terms of design. While the brand has been taking some risks in the past few years (especially with their interiors) they are no-where near the likes of Citroen. This difference is very apparent in the history of the two brands, 
      Peugeot producing vehicles that were efficient and simple. But some of those design could jump in terms of elegance. Citroen pushing the envelope with their designs that are either praised or hated. DS falls under this umbrella as well. My hunch is that PSA figured that sending either Citroen or DS would be problematic because they might not appeal to consumers, and just sit on lots.
      The second reason does hold slightly more water. Signs are beginning to appear that the U.S. economy could be heading towards a recession - a key item being pointed at is the drop in new car sales. If Peugeot was to enter at the present time, the consequences could be severe and put them in a difficult spot.
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      Time is also the biggest enemy to Peugeot. In six years time, the U.S. marketplace could be in a completely different state than where it stands now. Crossovers and SUVs dominate the sales charts at the moment, but it might be electric vehicles that become the dominant choice. There are also various regulations that may come into fruition, along with the possibility of new tariffs on vehicles built in Europe.
      There’s also the issue of trying to stand out in the U.S. marketplace. Consider this for a moment; there are over forty automakers selling just under 300 or so nameplates. With the prospect of more automakers from China expected to arrive in the next few years, Peugeot might be entering a crowded field. Some of their current models have the looks, but can it combat strong competition that has a long history and reputation in the country?
      One item is very clear, PSA Group isn't stupid. They're taking their time and doing a lot of behind the scenes work before introducing their first models in the U.S. Whether or not this proves to the big success or the white flag being raised remains to be seen.
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