Holiday car purchase: Six steps to avoiding buyer’s remorse

Buyer’s remorse.

It’s awful any time of the year.

But regretting a holiday car purchase can be just about the worst-case scenario. Especially when regifting is not really an option.

So don’t let enthusiasm over a year-end deal make you do something you shouldn’t.

Woman slumped over steering wheel

That’s particularly true on big shopping days such as Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, when “consumers can get caught up in the excitement of a good deal, sometimes at the expense of their needs, wants and budget,” wrote Brian Moody of Autotrader, a car-research web site and marketplace.


Right now may be the best time of year to shop for a used car

“Buyer’s remorse, especially for high-ticket items, happens all the time. And it makes everyone involved unhappy,” wrote Kimberly Palmer in an article in U.S. News Money.

Besides taking your time and doing your research beforehand, Autotrader suggests that shoppers:

  • Decide on a price limit before heading out to the dealership. The price limit should be part of a budget that ensures a car purchase doesn’t jeopardize your overall financial well-being.
  • Set realistic expectations on whether to shop for a new or used car – are you sure you can afford that new model or is a used vehicle a more sensible purchase?
  • Take family members or a friend to the dealership to shop with you to act as a voice of reason, and make sure you don’t do something you’re liable to regret a few days later.
  • Take a long (or extended) test drive on familiar roads – the type you’ll drive if you buy the car. Only then will you know whether you’re comfortable that it will meet your everyday needs.
  • Allow enough time to think about your vehicle-purchase decision before signing any papers. Decisions made in haste are more likely to result in buyer’s remorse.
  • Ask the dealership about any return policy before you buy the vehicle just in case you decide that you’ve made a mistake, “since some dealers do offer a 24-hour return policy.”

A year-end deal is great, suggests Moody of Autotrader, but “in addition to hunting for a good value, consumers should search for a car that suits their lifestyle 365 days of the year.”

Then celebrate the new year having resolved not to suffer buyer’s remorse in 2019 and beyond.

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