How to Beat Car Buyer’s Remorse

Tips to help you choose the right car and avoid regrets.
Published on December 4th, 2020
  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas


Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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Buying a car can be an exciting moment, but what if you're left with doubts about your purchase? Car buyer's remorse is something many people experience after investing in a vehicle. However, there are steps you can take to address and avoid this feeling of regret.

What are the biggest car buyer regrets?

Car buyer’s remorse is experienced by car owners around the globe: separate surveys in the UK and the US found that more than a third of drivers had regrets about their purchase. Common regrets relate to:

  • Make and model
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Size
  • Colour
  • Features
  • Not getting a better deal

These feelings may be due to:

  • Financial concerns: worries about having spent too much or that long-term running costs are too high.
  • Doubts about the vehicle: feeling that the car is substandard or fails to meet your needs and expectations.
  • Discovering alternative options: finding other cars post-purchase that appear more appealing or better suited to your personal preferences.
  • Pressure from the buying process: succumbing to high-pressure sales tactics or making impulsive decisions, only to feel regret once the initial excitement wanes.

Is it possible to return the car and get my money back if I regret my purchase?

In Australia, you generally cannot return a car and get a refund just because you regret your purchase. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Cooling-off period: depending on where you are in Australia, you may be entitled to a cooling-off period of up to three days after purchasing a used car from a dealer. These rights apply to car buyers in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT; however, there are no cooling-off periods applicable in Western Australia, the Northern Territory or Tasmania.
  • Major faults: if the car has a major fault that existed before you bought it, significantly reducing its value or safety, you might be eligible for a refund or replacement under Australian Consumer Law. You may also be covered by the car’s warranty.
  • Misrepresentation: if the dealership misrepresented the car's condition or features, you might have grounds for a refund depending on the severity of the misrepresentation.

If you believe you have a case, you should:

  • Review the contract: carefully examine your car sale contract for any return or exchange policies offered by the specific dealership (though these are uncommon).
  • Contact the dealership: try to reach an agreement with the dealership. They might be willing to offer a trade-in or buy back the car, but this would likely be at a lower price than what you paid.
  • Consult consumer affairs: if you suspect a major fault, misrepresentation or unsuitability for purpose, contact the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) for advice and information on your rights.

How do I overcome buyer’s remorse?

If you are doubting your car purchase, there are steps you can take to address it and move forward:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings: buyer's remorse is a common experience and you are allowed to feel uncertain or regretful about your purchase.
  2. Revisit your needs: remind yourself why you bought the car, considering the factors that influenced your decision and how the car suits your driving needs and lifestyle.
  3. Focus on the positives: make a list of the things you love about your new car. Focus on the features you'll enjoy and the benefits it brings to your life.
  4. Fact-check your worries: if financial anxiety is a concern, review your budget and spending plan. You might be surprised to see it's more manageable than you initially thought.
  5. Seek support: discussing your feelings with friends and family can provide perspective and help you see your car in a new light.
  6. Learn from the experience: use this as an opportunity to learn so you can make more informed decisions in the future.

How can I ensure I choose the right car for my needs and avoid buyer’s remorse?

To ensure you choose the right car for your needs – and avoid any subsequent regrets – you should:

  • Do your research: take the time to research different car models and their features, reliability and price. Consider factors such as fuel efficiency, maintenance costs and insurance rates, as well as resale value should you decide to sell it on down the line.
  • Assess your needs: determine what you need in a car based on your lifestyle, driving habits and priorities. Consider factors such as passenger capacity, cargo space, safety features and technology.
  • Set a budget: set a realistic budget for your car purchase, taking into account not only the upfront cost of the car but also ongoing expenses such as insurance, maintenance and fuel.
  • Test drive multiple cars: a test drive will give you a feel for how a car handles on the road and whether they meet your expectations in terms of comfort and performance.
  • Get a professional inspection: if you're buying a used car, consider hiring a mechanic to inspect the vehicle for any hidden issues before making a purchase.
  • Negotiate: don't be afraid to negotiate the price of the car or ask for additional perks such as warranty coverage or complimentary maintenance services.
  • Sleep on it: don’t rush! Before making a final decision, take some time to sleep on it and consider whether the car meets all your criteria and fits within your budget.
  • Don't be afraid to walk away:if something feels off during the negotiation process, step back and re-evaluate your options.

Navigating the car-buying process can be daunting, but with careful consideration and preparation, you can significantly minimise the risk of buyer's remorse. If you’re ready to buy your new car but need support with finance, Savvy can help. We can search and compare offers from more than 40 lenders to find a car loan that suits your needs and circumstances. Get started with a quote today.

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This guide provides general information and does not consider your individual needs, finances or objectives. We do not make any recommendation or suggestion about which product is best for you based on your specific situation and we do not compare all companies in the market, or all products offered by all companies. It’s always important to consider whether professional financial, legal or taxation advice is appropriate for you before choosing or purchasing a financial product.

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