Cars, Humor
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Car Fever: Part 1 – Irrationalizing a New Car Purchase

Seven slightly irrational justifications for buying a new car when you have a perfectly good car already – by the WideEyedSpouse.

1. The warranty is expiring and the newer car has a great warranty.

  • A car out of its warranty period will “potentially” need large, costly repairs. A warranty protects you against out of pocket repair expenses.

    The VW Rabbit’s warranty is waning and we live in a snowy region…time for change?

  • A brand new car warranty is bumper to bumper.  Anything that can or will go wrong is covered. No out of pocket costs for repairs, except maintenance items. If something feels weird with the car, it makes a funny sound or possibly even breaks down and stops running…no problem, send it to the dealer, they investigate it and if necessary make repairs with no cost to you. You need the piece of mind that comes with a new car warranty…trust me.

2. The tires are getting worn.

  • This one sells itself, it’s a no brainer.  Why buy a new set of tires when you can just buy a new car with new tires?  Tires are expensive.
  • If you do buy the new tires instead of getting a new car, have no worries…this is still advantageous.  A used car with new tires has better trade in value that one with worn tires.  Sure the increased trade-in value is not equivalent to the cost of the tires, but who cares…it makes sense in car fever logic.

3. The current car doesn’t function for your lifestyle.

  • Work the angle on this one to get into the car you desire. Examples:
    • SUV – We need more space.
    • 4×4 – We need a better car for the snow. Even if you are in Arizona you can use this justification.  Anything can happen with climate change.
    • Luxury car – I want a car that illustrates my career achievements and it will be comfortable for the long drives to visit family.
    • Sports car – This is a tough one, but usually a spirited test drive with the spouse will result in agreement that the car is a worthwhile purchase.

      The spouse on the test drive technique was effective.

    • Truck – We need to be able to haul stuff for working on the house.  A side benefit of a truck is that it comes with the possibility of purchasing something requiring a trailer…like, say, a boat.
    • Economy car – if you are desperate and just need to have something new an economy car is an easy one…good gas mileage, low insurance, lotsa airbags, etc.
    • Hybrid – I like driving too much to bother with the empty feeling of driving a hybrid. So I have no reason to justify it.

4. The trunk may have a leak.

  • This can be morphed into whatever problem abets your car fever cause…there’s maybe an oil leak, a radiator leak, the suspension sounds funny, transmission doesn’t feel as smooth as it used too, it’s making a weird noise….  Whatever the issue…it could lead to the failure of the car, out of warranty repairs, hassles all over the place – and therefore justify a new car purchase.

5. The equity isn’t going to improve as the car gets older.

  • Plain and simple.  If you have enough self-control to have actually paid off your car loan in full…that is commendable.  Congratulations. But you are driving around in a huge down payment on a new car. What are you thinking? Go trade your car in on a new one right now! The car will have less value at trade in the longer you own it.  You are actually losing money as you read this.

    Mazdas are always strong players in the equity game.

  • If you are like me and have serious car fever, you bounce from car to car and have accepted a life with perpetual car payments.  I keep a car until the value of the car exceeds the amount I owe on the car loan.  That means I have equity and equity translates into money towards a new car. Equity is a car fever sufferer’s best friend. Sure, I could wait until I have paid the loan off and then the entire value of the car goes towards the new car, right?  But if I have two years left on a car loan and I trade in the car on a new one, am I not saving those two years of car payments? See how the irrational justification works? It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to result in a new car.

6. The newer vehicle:

a) has better fuel economy,

b) is safer,

c) includes updated technology.

Fuel economy: Nope. Economy: Nope. Haul and tow stuff: Yeah. Powerful engine: Yeah. I wanted it: Yeah.

  • This one works well when used in conjunction with the changing lifestyle justification. Also, I have a whole list of features that my ultimate car should have: powerful engine, alloy wheels, turns signals on the fenders, heated seats, seat memory, etc.   As long as any given car lacks one of those features, I have justification to continue my quest for the car that has them all. Plus as new technology is introduced, items can be added to your list of desired features.  So arguably no car you own will ever have everything you want it to have…this is really one of the most powerful tools in the car fever suffer’s arsenal.

7. And the pièce de résistance: the payment is the same, anyway.

  • I use this one every time I get new car.  It is what makes everything ok and does away with any concern that I might be making a bad decision by trading in yet another car that works perfectly fine. Since I have car fever and have accepted car payments as a part of my life, as long as I keep the payment the same with the new car what’s the harm?  If you can get the payment lower than even better.  I have actually been able to lower my payments over the years by purchasing cars that retain their resale value well and have more equity at trade-in which lowers the cost of the new car and the associated monthly payment.

And really. We are all adults. We don’t have to do these mental exercises. If the car fever strikes, if I feel like it, I just get a new car.


  1. Dad says

    This impacts on so many levels I can’t even comment. But I will. The fever only subsides as long as the novelty of a new car endures. It never really goes away. Ever.

  2. Mom says

    It’s almost a pattern. Rat Island, the cliffs of Portugal…idle time, the fever, the result……
    “Hey! I just bought YOU a new car”

  3. Dwain says

    I still have my old 2001 “Looser Cruiser” Chrysler mini-van with 125k on ‘er. Haven’t had a payment in 10 years. She looses a quart of tranny fluid every 2 months. I keep it so I don’t have to buy $40.00 a gallon driveway paint and it’s too hot here to paint it anyway! Just the way I look at it.

    • Oh, I hear you. Commendable. But you are one of the lucky ones who may very well be immune to the fever – and just think, when you do decide to get a new vehicle, well, you will have earned something wonderful!

  4. Vic says

    New car fever is like sex, it’s all you think about until you finally attain it, then you stop thinking about it and are relieved for a short time, then it’s starts all over…….

    • Nice analogy my man! It does kinda work the same way. Only hopefully you aren’t having to make monthly payments on the sex!

  5. Dwain says

    My wife hasn’t been immunized, she seems to get one every couple of years. I earned something……payments

  6. Pingback: Car Fever Part 2: Rapid Onset « wideeyedfunk

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