The other night, I found myself in a high-rent, commercial neighborhood in suburbia, where most of the buildings were medical offices and car dealers and luxury retailers. Since Mrs. TBP was at the movies with her girlfriend, I decided to pop into a few places to see a what cars on my short list might replace what’s coming off lease in the Spring.

At the Audi dealership, I looked at the A7/S7. At Infiniti, I looked at the G37 convertible and the M37/56.

Perhaps it had to do with the tony neighborhood (Great Neck and Manhasset), but I came away with the distinct feeling in both locales that this was merely an exercise in trying to separate me from as much of my money per month as possible.

It was a few specific things and lots of general sense. Perhaps my prior experiences have colored my expectations.

But what wasn’t an option was walking into a dealer, seeing prices like in a restaurant or department store, and placing an order.

Which raises the question: Why is buying a car so frustrating? Why is what is likely to be the 2nd biggest purchase for most American families so fraught with pitfalls and danger and financial risks and annoyances?

Why does car buying suck?


Category: Consumer Spending

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

104 Responses to “Why is Buying a Car in the USA Such an Ordeal?”

  1. mctrev4 says:

    Barry, I learned about this approach and used it twice quite successfully…it completely changed the experience for me. Couldn’t recommend it strongly enough and I would never attempt to buy a new car without it. His book is great as well. Well worth the investment in what I saved!

  2. 2cents says:

    Believe it or not the tides have changed. The dealers are scrabbling to defend themselves against companies like, Costco auto programs and USAA. These companies leave the dealer with very little profit margins if any. Mosr dealers are making money on aftersale and service products. So even if you get a great deal from your buying program beware of the F&I office and aftersale departments.

  3. [...] people who are too busy or intimidated or who simply dont want to be bothered. Readers made lots of good suggestions here as to what services they [...]

  4. moku says:

    The best experience I ever had in buying a new car was through CarBargains (, a nonprofit service provided by Consumers Checkbook. It will cost you $200, but you’ll get a rock-bottom price that you can accept without any hassle — just walk into the dealer, talk to the sales manager, and drive out with your car. Or you can take the CarBargains price and try to get another dealer to beat it. CarBargains works by requesting detailed bids (in terms of amount above or below invoice, not sticker) from 6-8 dealers. CarBargains explains how you can get the same results yourself with a bit of work, so the website is worth looking at even if you’re uncomfortable putting $200 on the table for the service offered.