HA: Has a purchase you’ve considered been swayed by online opinion?

You might reach out to someone, or a like-minded group, and ask for car-buying advice. If they collectively give you an answer you weren’t expecting, do you consider that answer? Or do you simply seek out more validation for the purchase you’ve already made in your mind? It’s a question resulting from answers I often seen posted on the Internet.

Take, for example, our own Kamil Kaluski who was asked about car buying advice by a family member. He answered the initial question based on the needs of the question asker. And that person responded with a vehicle that is nothing like what they said they wanted.

I can only assume that the XC40 Recharge was already a strong contender in their head. And they had likely hoped that Kamil would push them down that same path. But the XC40 Recharge, while a nice premium EV, is not a large SUV with good cargo space and road-trip ability.

Have you experienced this inherent need of purchase questioning and validation in your own lives? Have you been on either side of it?

18 Comments

    1. That’s an obvious masterpiece, and if I lived within 200 miles, I would probably be rolling up loose change right now to go over an make the purchase. The nice thing about a build like that is that even if your fabrication skills are negligible, you can still improve on the car.

      That hood-scoop-turned-exhaust-duct on the nonexistent passenger door is the work of an inspired genius.

  1. Not really, but when the ink was still wet on my son’s license, he used to criticize one particular brand of car so much that a youth group he was in made him issue a very public apology to someone who drove that automobile.

    Not long after that, I replaced my wife’s car. I had already taken care of all the paperwork, but there were a few repairs I negotiated, and those took two days to finish. On the delivery date, I announced that I needed a ride to go pick up the new car. I lied about the brand, of course, and said it was the vehicle my son was very opposed to. I had to listen to his complaints for about an hour before we left for the dealership, and then another 20 minutes to drive there.

    It was pretty interesting when we pulled into the dealer’s lot. My wife immediately figured out which car in the SOLD! area was her new ride, while my son kept complaining about a car I didn’t actually buy.

  2. Aren’t those two different things, online opinion and family opinion? I dole out advice to anyone who walks by and mentions they are in the process of buying a new/used car. If someone ever listens and actually buys something I have recommended, I am quite surprised, because having an idea of what you want – and getting it – is the entire auto industry’s magic formula. But there are a few who were open to my advice and some of them have been very happy with the vehicles they got.

    And swayed by online opinion I have been, yes. When I found the Centennial for sale, I posted the classified in the Toyota Century International Owners Group on Facebook, borderline joke/should I/should I not. A guy from Dubai popped up almost instantly, the one who borrowed his car to Doug DeMuro for his review, and he said these cars were well-built, parts cheap and plentiful, and I should absolutely do the plunge. *coughs* For a second there I forgot that I live in a weird country that taxes everything to oblivion and is off the beaten track for everything, including car parts. But we’re getting there.

  3. I have stopped to suggest vehicles on the forums I am on, aside from here where everything is tongue-in-cheek anyway (it is, right?). Usually the askers want confirmation of their decision, not fresh ideas or actual alternatives. Also, Germans don’t buy CTS-Vs or Lexus ISsses, because, not German.

    1. Do you want to maintain that it’s tongue-in-cheek or do you want to help me convince Jeff to buy the unholy abomination listed above?

  4. I remember reading this article as a seventh grader, in an honest to God print magazine, and it influencing the course of my life:
    https://www.caranddriver.com/features/columns/a15136263/john-phillips-car-buying-is-easy-when-fido-barks-the-numbers-column/
    that was one of the first moments I realized that we as humans rationalize terrible decisions in completely nonsensical ways so that we can just do whatever it was we wanted anyway. this opinion was given real meat when I read Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, which I don’t recommend to anyone happy believing that individuals tend to act in their own self-interest.

    at a high level I’m still piecing through how to apply this wisdom to my life, all these years later. but I definitely know that giving advice on what car to buy is a waste of time. glad Kamil’s brother has confirmed that despite all the changes in the world since 2003, nothing has really changed at all.

    I still engage in car buying advice and assistance, but now it’s purely recreational. I know it’s all bullshit. I just like to ride in new cars.

    1. I’m a sociologist and economist, in that order. As a student, the concept of economics, building intricate mathematical buildings on horribly sloppy, often inaccurate assumptions, was fascinating. The rational being this profession caters to has been proven to be quite an illusion, also in economics itself, of course. If we were truly rational, would anyone ever buy a new car at all?

      1. If you’re willing to ditch the intricate mathematics but keep the horribly sloppy, often inaccurate assumptions, we can probably make a geologist out of you.

  5. do you think the average person still turns out to be a reasonably rational person given a large enough population of erratic individuals?

  6. I generally have the same experience as Kamil’s, I advise, they do what they want.

    Recently an online friend, having suffered in an older Chrysler 300 and Buick Rendezvous,I is looking for a reliable small SUV. I recommend a used CRV or Rav4. He says for the same money he can get a Ford Escape with fewer miles, and he does. Later, he’s stranded with a flat tire because the poor quality Ford lug nuts came apart and his lug wrench doesn’t fit.

    But, about 10 years ago, a friend posts about 2 $25K cars they are considering. A nearly new Lincoln LS and an older BMW M5. I say, two wildly different cars. One is pretty boring but should be reliable, the other is fantastically fun but will drain your bank account. Have you looked at the Infiniti G35? Should be pretty fun and pretty reliable. He hadn’t, and found a nice 6 speed coupe and, I think, he’s still driving it.

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