A core assumption in the study of economics is that people are rational consumers.
This means that when someone purchases something, they want to get the maximum amount of value for how much the purchase costs them.
However, people find value in different things. When buying a car, some people value the brand over everything else, whereas others might care more about whether it is an electric or hybrid car. Some of the universal considerations when looking to buy a car are its appearance, its reliability, its features, and its price.
How To Save Money On Your Next Vehicle Purchase
The better the first three are, the more the price of the car increases. Thus, people often have to make various sacrifices in their preferences to be able to find a car that is in their budget. This forces people to prioritize what they want in their vehicle.
Tip: you can save significantly by purchasing on previous years’ “leftover” after the manufacturer makes a significant change to the vehicle model. You can often pick up brand new previous model vehicles for less than the price of used if you shop around and negotiate.
To test out people’s preferences, The Zebra asked 1,000 American drivers to see if they would buy a reliable vehicle over one with a pleasing appearance. The obvious assumption to make is that they want to have safe, efficient cars with plenty of features, even if they have to sacrifice some aesthetic preferences.
After all, the external look of the car has no bearing on its quality or functionality, and reliability is surely a significant concern.
However, the results were surprising. 76% of the drivers would not buy a car that they knew to be reliable if they did not like its appearance. There were several data points to note within these findings. 80% of women fell into this category, while 73% of men did.
Additionally, the older the respondent was, the less likely they were to consider buying a car that they did not like the appearance of. One possible reason behind this could be that older people tend to have more disposable income, and therefore are more able to find cars that are reliable as well as aesthetically appealing.
Younger people have to adjust their priorities heavily to be able to find a car that falls into their budget.
An additional survey of 5,000 American drivers revealed that the feature that people look for the most in their cars is a backup camera. The second most sought-after feature is keyless entry, followed by Bluetooth, blind-spot monitoring, heated seats, and voice control.
Tip: manufacturers are likely to bundle these desirable options in expensive option packages. If heated seats, blind-spot monitoring or a backup camera is on the top of your wish list consider having the option installed aftermarket. Having these items installed won’t add to the resale value.
However, buying additional options for resale in mind rarely makes sense. An aftermarket blind-spot warning system or back up a camera may only cost a few hundred dollars where frequently you need a technology package costing thousands to get the same features.
A car with these features is bound to be more expensive than a car without them. For those with budget constraints, trying to find a reliable vehicle that looks good and has features they want could pose a significant problem. Among two reliable cars with the same features, the one with a more appealing exterior is likely to be more expensive.
Thus, people would end up paying more money than they need to for a car that is reliable and has specific features.
It is a good strategy for someone who wants to save money to reorganize their priorities so they can get as reliable of a car as they can get. In the long run, it matters more than a car works well and has functional features.
When consumers prioritize a car’s appearance over other things, they end up paying more. This school of thought might even have dangerous consequences, as it might signal to car manufacturers that they should care more about a car’s appearance than its reliability to make the most profits.
To save money, it is probably wise to start caring less about the appearance of a car and more about its reliability. After all, consumers should want the most value for the cost they pay, and the only way to gain value, in the long run, is to ensure that the product purchased is reliable and durable.