By on March 7, 2019

2019 GMC Acadia Denali front quarter

It’s infuriating. Here I am, sipping a tall can of dodgy suds (I poured it into a glass for a modicum of elegance), and all around me people are buying vehicles I wouldn’t be caught dead in — and using their own hard-earned cash to do it, the buggers…

Corey Lewis is one of those culprits, so last weekend I got in the car, drove down to southern Ohio, and gave him a piece of my mind — if you catch my drift — for having the unmitigated gall to desire the wrong used cars. Let’s just say you won’t be seeing him in public for a while.

It never ends with these people!

If you haven’t guessed, I’m being facetious. Corey is just fine. He’s relaxing comfortably at home right now, free to pursue a life of religious fulfilment. No, what got me started on this tangent was a tweet from a very online automotive journalist who, in a fit of frustration, lamented that “consumers have no idea what they want, and don’t listen to us anyway.”

Perish the thought. After watching this journalist get a proper rebuke from people I respect, it was time for reflection. I couldn’t imagine taking offence at the thought of someone I’ve never met not taking to heart personal commentary about what I like and hold dear. We’re all animals, barely removed from the jungle, and emotion and familiarity rank high on the list of motivators for car shoppers.

My brother-in-law owns one and says it’s good. Jane in accounting is on her second [model name here], and she’s a lifer at this company so I’d know if anything went wrong. I know nothing about what’s on the market but I see these everywhere and it’s a name I trust. I feel an innate need to possess this object — I don’t know how to describe it, but just looking at it satisfies me on a deep, personal level, and owning it is something that must happen.

Etc, etc.

As TTAC’s managing editor stated during my subsequent bitchfest, most people read car reviews to validate pre-existing choices. Shit all over a new car, and (barring a catastrophic mechanical breakdown illustrated in said review) the reader whose heart is set on that exact vehicle will probably let emotion, their personal budget, and a basic list of needs rule the day. Probably in that order. Many readers, more than we’d like to admit, care not one whit for our (or anyone else’s) recommendations; they just want our approval.

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Listen, I’m as upset as anyone about the continuing eradication of sensible, reasonably affordable sedans, but have your ever driven a popular crossover? There’s many reasons why a consumer would find such a vehicle desirable. Hell, I’ve found a few desirable, and they weren’t exactly a high-riding, musclebound sports car that gripped the pavement like an ill-fated boat passenger hanging onto a deck rail. They drove like a high-riding version of the sedans everyone drove in the 1990s/2000s. And guess how many of those cars OEMs sold.

Want to check sales stats for the 1995 Ford Taurus or 2002 Chevrolet Impala?

A great many crossovers do many normal things reasonably well, and they do so because the average consumer is looking out for his or her needs, his or her family, and isn’t a single twentysomething auto journo who’s regularly handed wheel time in supercars for free and can get pissy over rarified minutiae. The 35-year-old-Porsche-project-car-taking-up-the-garage-of-shared-house-because-there’s-a-press-car-in-the-driveway lifestyle is a cliché, but man is it prevalent. And good on you for doing what freedom, determination, and excess pocket money allows. Live that dream while you’re young.

There’s still good advice and on-point observations floating around out there. Just don’t expect voices emanating from this online monoculture to carry much weight with your average buyer.

If I had my way, I’d keep Lordstown Assembly open forever, just so the low end of car-buying humanity can have something to pick up for, say, $17k, and drive for three to five years. GM’s buffet of high-margin trucks and SUVs can fund the threadbare, one-shift-plus-downtime operation, and Mary Barra can spend a few less days at the beach. But GM can do whatever it wants, within the law, so unless the government takes over all mainstream automakers, we’re left exposed, buffeted by the whims of a buying public able to exercise free choice in what they drive. It’s the same Wild West that existed a century ago.

Goddamn it, Steph, you’re droning on like a Wright Cyclone engine on a mission over Germany! Yes, you’re right. I’ll stop now and formulate a question from this impromptu rant.

B&B in which instances do you give car-buying advice, and where do you cut it off? If someone you know is enthusiastically in the market for something you view as mediocre, do you step up to pour vinegar all over their day? Or are there moments when you just clam up, sit back, and let your friend, coworker, neighbor, or in-law go ahead and do what makes them happy, knowing your words won’t move them to change their mind?

Sound off in the comments.

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC, Steph Willems/TTAC]

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122 Comments on “QOTD: Why Are People So Wrong?...”


  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    There are only two cases where I offer car buying advice any more.

    1) You know what would make a great 24 Hours of Lemons car? You ought to buy that model because they’re easy to wrench on and there’s a zillion at Pull-A-Part.

    2) You know what would make a great first car for a teenager? Same reasons.

    • 0 avatar
      tommytipover

      I’ve decided that the teenagers and the 24 HoL car will share the same platform. Insuring a parts car at the races and access to a spare chassis.

  • avatar
    jimmy2x

    I only give advice when I am directly asked for it. Most people really don’t want advice, just validation. Besides, none of us are infallible.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      I fully agree with you. I very rarely give advice about cars anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Same here. I’m rarely asked, anyway. Besides, I don’t want to be blamed for someone’s lemon.

      Also, car purchases are usually mixed in with other aspects of the household economy, and that’s risky territory.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      “none of us are infallible”

      I once talked a friend out of buying a 2000 Audi TT and into buying a 2000 Chrysler Sebring Coupe.

      I subsequently purchased said well-used Sebring from my friend.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Yup. Same here – only I’m I am asked.

      As an aside, I must say as a life-long auto and driving enthusiast (and ex-racer), I don’t mind people buying what they want – even if it’s something I would never touch. I’m happy that what they want is available to them. But I resent how, in the current economy, it’s coming at the expense of people like me.

      If most people want a certain kind of vehicle, then we must all take that vehicle. 50 years ago, 70-to-80 percent of the driving public still preferred four doors. But the auto companies still made two-door models for the rest of us. That began to change in the 80s and 90s and there are only a very small handful of two-door cars available today. Hell, even two-door trucks.

      And it’s happening again with cars vs. CUVs and SUVs. Ditto manual and automatic transmissions. Please spare me the market forces 101. I know all about it. It’s not just that. Sure, it’s a difficult period for the auto industry. But a lot of it has to do with lazy product planners and sales people, and a society that grows more cautious, conservative, fearful, boring and dumber with each passing year.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      “I only give advice when I am directly asked for it. Most people really don’t want advice, just validation. Besides, none of us are infallible.”

      At least half the time, the people who ask you for advice directly are still looking for you to pull whatever random car they’ve already chosen from thin air.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I ask them “what type of vehicle are you looking at” before saying anything. If they say CUV or SUV, I usually just start talking about the brands generally. I don’t pay enough attention to these vehicles to really offer any productive advice. I don’t know, for example, the substantive differences between a Tiguan and a CR-V. So I would say something like “well, Hondas are usually pretty reliable, but I had pretty good luck with my Volkswagen GTI too.” I can’t really go wrong with that position!

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      and i agree as well.

      since looking back i can only admit most of my good decisions were those made by mistake and by luck. most, however, really didn’t go very well.

      and i now get into arguments with family about the direction i give my kids, all adults now. i guess make them read and do well in school…and them hopefully they develop enough to get along on their own.

      i refuse to discuss career paths, other than to let them decide and then help the achive…no matter how many times they change. since i myself an still struggling to decide what i want to be when i grow up, i can’t tell anybody what to do.

      and as for cars, i am constantly changing hourly which car i want and would be truly providing wrong personal choices to people who really want what they want.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Hey T.T. :

        Just because you’re getting older, there’s no law forcing you to grow up ~ just .look at me =8-) .

        Good on ya for being supportive of your kids ~ you’re their FATHER, not their friend .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    “If someone you know is enthusiastically in the market for something you view as mediocre, do you step up to pour vinegar all over their day?”
    …In a heartbeat. I’ve been worshiping at the altar of the automobile for over 30 years now and friends/family/colleagues come to me for car advise all of the time. I always try to steer them in the direction of the best car for the money, or the car that best fits their needs, even if it might be a slight fraction out of their price range or not what they expected. I’ve turned family members onto Audis back when the perception was that they were troubleprone nightmares and for the most part, they have been rock solid (total disclosure…an A3 had a bit of a rind on it if you catch my drift, but the replacement A4 has been great.)
    Friends don’t let friends drive crap cars! We spend too much time inside and money on our vehicles to have to settle for a penalty box. So, if someone comes to me with some set-in-stone idea that (for example) the Ford Ecosport is the vehicle of their dreams, well, they are about to get a reality check and a whole new list of far better alternatives for the same money.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    Yes on the validation. My mom really wanted a Grand Cherokee, but had in her mind that the Jeep’s have issues. I told her I wasn’t sure, but they are likely not as reliable or hold up as well as the Japanese offerings. She said “Thank you, that’s what I thought.” So she got a 2019 Highlander.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Proof that perception is in no way tied to reality.

      Be a better son next time. Nobody should steer their parent into a Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        You saying A Highlander doesn’t have a substantially better reliability track record than a Grand Cherokee? I say this as someone that likes WK2 Grand Cherokees.

        • 0 avatar
          NECarGuy

          I’d rather deal with a service issue once in awhile than be stuck in the penalty box that is the lifted Camry Wagon….errr…. I mean Highlander!

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The Jeep certainly feels like a more premium sort of vehicle, but if room and utility are a concern at all, the Grand Cherokee has a hard time keeping up with Compact CUVs like the Rav4 in terms of interior and cargo space, let alone a Highlander.

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        Well I didn’t steer her into it. She narrowed it down to the Jeep, Highlander, and Pilot. Interesting on who you know. My sister has a highlander that’s been great ; her good friend has a Grand Cherokee that hasn’t been. I’m not really into crossovers, but honestly if I had to choose one of those for an everyday driver, it would be the Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I disagree. I recommend Toyotas all the time to folks who want a reliable appliance for the next 7-10 years. Nothing beats them. I’ve even recommended a few 86s to folks was want a sporty coupe within a reasonable budget. Toyota is probably the most well rounded manufacturer today with something for everyone.

        I’m not necessarily a fan boy, but I respect a quality product when I see one.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Agreed Dave but Jeezo-Peezo ! drive a Toyota unless you had to or liked one ?! .

          No thanx, I don’t like appliances .

          Maybe a 1967 /68 RT43 Coupe….

          -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Lets play a game. I am your mommy. I like JGC. But I see it as fiscally irresponsible purchase. I am not crazy about driving dynamics of Highlander and Pilot is just a fat cow. What should I buy?

      • 0 avatar
        crtfour

        She drove all 3 and ended up liking the Toyota the best, including the way it drove. She ended up saying the Jeep didn’t ride as well as the others anyway.

        • 0 avatar
          crtfour

          Slavuta I would recommend she decide between the Toyota and Honda and leave it at that based on features and more or less how she likes them. I am not a domestic fan so that could certainly sway the recommendation.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Just get the Jeep. It’s obvious from your comments lately that you like it and want one. Yes, they aren’t #1 in reliability ratings but they aren’t a 25 year old Maserati BiTurbo either. You’ll be fine.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          ajla,

          I want the Jeep. yea. I love that thing. But I think, I found a car…
          2017 CX5 GT 15K miles @ about $25K private owner
          – I can’t stand dealing with a dealer
          – Car is new enough, driven by retiree woman who can’t drive no more
          – I don’t have to take loan on this + I’ll get ~7K back for highlander
          – son goes to college next year
          – will be driven 90% by wife, so, it is not like I will get most enjoyment out of it

          I think, this is smart move. When I will be replacing my Mazda6, I will most likely get Wrangler. If my other son’s Mazda that I gave him, will eventually irreparably break down, I will try selling him my Mazda6. If that works, then I’ll get wrangler. The reason I don’t afraid to get Wrangler, it holds the value pretty good. And I can drive 3-4 years and sell.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    ‘If someone you know is enthusiastically in the market for something you view as mediocre, do you step up to pour vinegar all over their day?’

    What kind of a d**k does that?

    I’d be far more likely to point out the folly of being a debt slave. If asked.

    All these arm chair experts claim “There are better cars out there” when someone brings up a model [any model]. Of course there are. And always better than the one the “expert” is delivering pizzas in.

    They also seem to have unlimited money ready to spend.

    Years ago it was these same people who gave the Reader’s Choice Award to the Vega year after year.

    Nothing’s changed with humans since.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    You are spot on with this article, most people buy within their peer group. My friend, uncle, brother, coworker, mechanic bought one and they’re happy with it, so it must be good.

    I don’t recall a time when someone has asked me outright “What car should I buy?” I would run from offering that kind of advice, however I have been asked on many occasions, where I got my car, what options are on it and what kind of deal I got, that kind of advice I will offer freely because it actually helps the person fine tune a decision that’s already been made

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “”If I had my way, I’d keep Lordstown Assembly open forever, just so the low end of car-buying humanity can have something to pick up for, say, $17k”

    You remind me of something I heard yesterday. Apparently you can own a Mahinda Scorpio diesel SUV brand new for about $15,000 (10 Lakhs is about a million rupee which was my understanding). How can this be? You can’t touch anything stateside for less than about $12K am I right (and its a Nissan Versa)? Why is it India can produce something for half of what it would cost here and still profit? Remind yourself the Eco hacks your life is currently Made in India and it costs more right now.

    https://www.carwale.com/mahindra-cars/scorpio/

    • 0 avatar
      DedBull

      No EPA, no NHTSA, no congress dictating features.

      Cars have come a long way, and we are all better for it. The side effect is the overall cost of doing business increases.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        Agree. You aren’t walking away from this…
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qqbQZBmxyE

        Safety equipment is expensive but worth it!

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Safety equipment is a 50%+ cost difference per unit?

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            Those vehicles folded up like cheap umbrellas. Safety equipment includes a body made of high strength materials in acceptable thickness at added cost and weight leading to increased price. Add to that the cost of engineers, designers and technicians sweating the details to get best possible crash safety. They don’t work for free.
            A comment at the video was certainly true – being poor is a big safety risk.

          • 0 avatar
            jh26036

            To me, yes.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @chuckrs

            I don’t think this generation of Indian vehicles is as inferior as the past. Ford EcoSport is currently made in India and was designed for the Indian domestic market, yet it was successfully Federalized and is sold here for 20K+ (I3 FWD S model no one is buying).

            If I google “2019 ford ecosport india” it returns:

            “New Ford EcoSport S | Bookings Open. @11.37 lakh* | ford.com‎”

            1,100,000 rupees is 15674.45 USD, which is still $4,326 less than the cheapest model stateside (albeit manual transmission). I find it hard to believe these models are much different since they are both being assembled in the same locale.

          • 0 avatar
            Erikstrawn

            A lot of the vehicles overseas have far less capability. I rented a 3-cyl Renault Clio in Spain that couldn’t hold 60 mph uphill. You couldn’t sell a car like that here, but in Spain that couple thousand dollars in savings (dinky engine, dinky drivetrain, dinky tires) sells.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “No EPA, no NHTSA, no congress dictating features.”

        Here’s a crash test featuring a head on collision between a 2009 Chevy Malibu and a 1859 Chevy Bell Air.
        https://youtu.be/fPF4fBGNK0U

        I’d rather be in the car whose design benefits from +50 years of public-private safety engineering experience, thankyouverymuch.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I get your point. I still find it interesting that the US considers a $12K unsafe car to be unacceptable but considers a $12K (likely) more unsafe sidecar motorcycle to be fine.

          I guess it comes down to the expected buyers of those two vehicles. Although I think there is a degree of infantilization to that reasoning.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I agree ajla, I think there needs to be some sort of low-run “sign your life away” legal status created for vehicles like the Roxor or whatever other neat things people come up with for recreational vehicles that can be driven on the road, applying your exact logic in regard to motorcycles. I’d love to have a Roxor with a bit more motor to use as my fair weather commuter and weekend cruiser.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            nobody expects a motorcycle to be safe in a collision.

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            I agree with selling the Roxor and the Polaris Ranger as a UTVs.

            I disagree with my state about whether UTVs should be allowed on the road. My state bans UTVs on public roads. They really should be able to travel on most roads (but not the Interstate). My intuition is that a 55mph limit for both the vehicle and the road would be reasonable for UTVs where I live.

            I’d love-love-love to commute to work in an electric Mahindra Roxor or an electric Polaris Ranger, at least during the summer. The biggest road on my usual commute is/was a 4-lane 45MPH road, and I’d be comfortable in a 55mph vehicle there. Being open the way those vehicle are would have me arriving at work feeling extra alive!

            P.S. I’m a licensed motorcycle rider and private pilot. While I prefer the safest and most modern vehicle when all things are equal, I’m quite comfortable with other ways of doing things — if there’s a reason. And “because it’s awesome” is a reason.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          Oh my. I hope the horses pulling that Chevy weren’t killed.

        • 0 avatar
          ravenuer

          50 years? Imagine how far we’ve come since 1859!

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            Sorry about the typo. I really should know better.

            My 9 year old wants to be a history professor, and he’ll call me on that much more harshly than you dudes did!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I’d rather have the BelAir and avoid the crash, thank you. That ’59 model is a much nicer looking car and with a resto-mod underneath should be a lot safer than original.

      • 0 avatar
        vehic1

        DedBull: No dang gubmint, no po-lice neither; we jist need to let the Magical To-tally FreeFree Market protect us, our wives and family – from cancer, shoddy workmanship and design, and criminal wrongdoing? Zee-row restrictions upon Big Bidness! What could go wrong?

  • avatar
    WisconsinIrishJames

    I don’t necessarily offer advice, but ask questions to get the person to think about what they want or need in terms of vehicle use.

    If they need a family hauler, then we dive down that rabbit hole of number of people, how much cargo space, fuel economy, price, etc.

    Basically, I try to get them to focus on the vehicle segment that best suits their needs, then once there, we can discuss pros and cons of the various offerings in that segment.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Good grief, I just got my eye fixed, and opened this site and this is what I get!

    Oh, well.

    I must be so wrong that I believe I’m right for buying my 2012 Impala LTZ BRAND NEW! Yes, I’ve been retired for two years now and have only put around 7,000 miles on my car for a grand total of 24,000 miles.

    Why do I say I was right in buying this car? Well, it has been trouble-free and I love the thing!

    So, with no further ado, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Wait Zackman your Impala needed timing chains done with only 24k on the clock? That’s crazy man! I thought you were at like 80k or something.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Oops! 124,000 miles! Timing chain at around 83 or 87K. It was a suggested replacement. Since I had every intention of keeping the car, why not?

        Sorry ’bout that.

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          That is the lowest mileage for a timing chain replacement that I have ever heard of. I’ve seen a Nissan Frontier V6 that went almost that long between its last oil change and needing the chains replaced.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Timing chain at around 83 or 87K.”

          Wasn’t the issue that your timing cover was leaking oil so when you got that replaced you also had your timing chain and water pump replaced as well? It wasn’t that your timing set had an actual problem?

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yep ajla that’s how I remember it going down as well. Supposedly the newer “LFX” motors are less prone to the chain stretch issue than the earlier iterations of the High-Feature V6 “LLT”(?)

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            Yes – front engine cover VERY slight leak – GM fixed it but suggested to me that if I was going to keep the car, since they were replacing the water pump and such, I replace the chain as well. So I said go ahead. Why not?

            Unless it suddenly falls apart before my eyes, I’m keeping it. I had a full detail done on it last September and it looked and felt like a brand new car. Very impressed!

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “I’m keeping it”

            You better keep it. I don’t know if I could accept a TTAC where Zackman doesn’t have an Impala.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          The dealership suggested replacing perfectly fine timing chains at this low mileage. The LFX series engines did not have this issue so the they were lying. The timing covers on some did leak so that was valid. My buddies 2012 silver LT with 180K had a slight leak and the chains were original and still good for quite a bit longer. Following the oil indicator and using the recommended Dexos oil were also safeguards that helped a great deal.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      As I recall, “Zackman” had a long commute before he retired ? Sounds like a simple typing error, re-mileage.

      Been there done that.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I only offer an opinion when asked and even then I tend to ask more questions than provide ‘advice’. As noted in the piece, people have already made up their mind on what vehicle they want, for the most part. No need to impart my version of reality on them good or bad.

    Though I have 4 GM products and am quite happy with them, when someone asks which the invariable question of what car is the best value used I answer the same every time. Used ex-rental Camry with 50k miles on it, 60% of the price of a new one and will last 10 years with normal driving habits.

    Or Miata, because that is what everyone here says…

  • avatar
    multicam

    The only advice I give is to not settle for something that is less than exactly what you want. Like you said, we spend too much time in and money on cars to compromise. If you get exactly the car you want you’re more likely to take good care of it and not tire of it in three years.

    Of course, this is within budget constraints and the constraints of reality. But the point remains: if someone is telling me they might be okay with saving a few thousand dollars on a $45k truck to get their second-choice engine, I just tell em what I said above.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @multicam: Problem is, for some people, ‘exactly what they want’ isn’t available–nobody makes it. Personally, over the last 20 years there have been many vehicles that I liked… but they all had 4+ doors. I don’t need or want 4+ doors. This is even true of pickup trucks, though at least they offer an acceptable option with some models having 2-2/2 doors (two and two half-doors) where the rear ones are not blatantly obvious.

      But even the pickup truck I currently own is a compromise, far less–or rather ‘more’– than I wanted in size, despite choosing a mid-sized truck. Hyundai has teased us with a more-acceptable option (to me) for over 3 years now and Ford has entered the fray with the statement that they would offer a true compact in 3-4 years from now.

      And that’s where I tend to get into it with people asking for advice. My first question is always, “What do you need?” As for advice like “Mom’s” up above–I do my best to avoid any statement based on obsolete reputations; rather, I try to relate from personal experience where I can or will go to some of the independent review sites where ALL of the reviews are made by owners, not one of the professional reviewing sites as they’ve been known more than once to be drastically off on their analyses. I’ll use sites like this one to get impressions on new vehicles but even here I’ve seen reviews that were light-years away from reality, though admittedly rarely.

      When it comes to reliability, any reputation more than two years old is questionable at best. I admit I have my own perceptions of the quality of some brands but those are because of personal experience with those brands, not just hearsay. I try to avoid making any statement about reliability UNLESS I’ve read owner reviews or experienced it myself. And apparently I tend to be a little more forgiving than most as what seems to be a glaring problem for some is often little more than a temporary quirk as the vehicle is broken in and gets used to the owner’s driving habits (yes, today’s cars DO learn your driving habits and modify their performance accordingly within their specified limits.)

      So my advice, while clearly an opinion, tends to be moderated with understanding what the potential buyer wants and needs. That doesn’t, necessarily, means that he can ever get EXACTLY what he wants.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’m a firm believer in getting exactly what you want. A couple of years ago my MIL decided it was time for a new car. I tried in vain to get her to sit down and look at the options available but she would have none of it. She just knew she wanted blue. So weeks later she kept asking why her car didn’t do the same things as ours or some of her friends cars. So for a couple of years now it has been, no your car doesn’t have that feature because you bought a base model. Yes you could have got that on your car ect.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      “Don’t settle for less than exactly what you want…”

      I’m learning this the hard way. The vehicles I’ve had have all been a compromise based on expense. A really dumb compromise I’ve made is to accept something without a sunroof, which I love and would use all the time, and a color other than black. Finally, I enjoy a manual transmission, not because I think it bestows upon me mad driving skills, but because I just like it. Ends up causing me to look at the car with minor disgust, even if overall the car rides and drives well. I start to look around soon thereafter. My car currently is a manual, but it’s black and has no sunroof. I’m looking, but will keep it around until the lease is up so I can finally start fresh without negative equity, and can get the things I want.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    First off, @Steph forgot to say GET OFF MY LAWN!

    Outside of my family, no one ever asks my opinion on what car to buy. When my wife is looking for her next car, I mostly just tell her how much money she has to spend. She goes out and finds what she wants, I go in to negotiate the deal. The only exception was when she was looking at a 1999 Explorer, I didn’t like the idea of a truck based SUV as a family car. The problem got solved when her cousin showed up in an RX300, which my wife immediately loved.

    I also had some influence over what my daughters got, since I was paying for their cars. For the older one, I would have chosen a late model used Elantra, but she wanted and got a Jeep Patriot, because I couldn’t find enough fault with it to say no. Details are here: https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/08/defense-jeep-patriot/ .We’ve had the Jeep for three years now, and it’s been a good car. It did develop an oil leak early on, but that was fixed under warranty and it’s been trouble free since.

    For the second daughter, I would have suggested a Mazda 3 sedan, but she asked for and received an Escape. Same deal, I couldn’t find fault with her choice.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      One more: my sister, who is a bit of a VW fangirl, had a New Beetle she dearly loved. It got totaled when she got rearended, and was thinking of another one, but was also considering a GTI. I steered her to the GTI, which is a much more practical car.

      People here have a tendency to say that Miata is the answer to everything. I disagree, I think GTI is. I had one as a young adult. One day you could take it to the track, the next day put a roof rack on it and load up windsurfers or snowboards, and the day after that fold down the seat and move a small piece of furniture. The only thing it won’t do is haul a big trailer.

  • avatar
    suburbanokie

    The one time I really gave anyone advice was a former boss who was struggling about what he should buy his nearly 16 yo daughter. I looked at him and said, “Seriously, just buy her a 2-3 year old Honda Civic.” A few weeks later, that’s exactly what he and his wife bought her, and she loved it.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    I grew up and live in a family where many are employed by the auto industry and/or a labor union member. This plays into some people’s decision making; and has entered into my own, as well. Think all the way through such a life, and it might add some insight into decision making. My number one dream would be to experience everyone’s life (living/dead throughout time) so I could have a better (first-hand) understanding of my fellow man.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @FThorn: it is my belief/hope that is what Heaven/the after life will provide, enough time to see how others view(ed) us and to explore ‘what could have been’ by checking out the results if we had made other decisions during our lifetime.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    Ant time someone talks about car purchase, I start first be asking questions and determining what they want and need, and then I try to fit a solution to them.

    I learned to do this as a computer guy. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorites. For instance, after 25 years of fighting with Microsoft and their products, I have pretty strong disdain for Microsoft Windows — but, if someone comes to me and says they need Microsoft Office and a particular application that only runs on Windows in order to do their job, Windows really is the right tool for them — even if it’s chock full of decades-old kludges (like using C: for the primary disk).

    So it is with cars. I’ve had decades of disdain for the Ford Explorer. But Ford’s announcement of a PHEV version is very interesting, since I have a need for a 3-row family vehicle with some towing ability and an appreciation for plugin vehicles. But I moved to the Midwest from Appalachia (where corner carving is called “Tuesday morning”) about a decade ago, and I’m starting to realize that the Explorer is exceedingly well adapted to the Midwestern lifestyle. I may have to eat some crow on this one.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Generally I give as little advice as possible. There’s no really BAD new cars anyway, so buy what you want.
    Case in point, recently we had a South African lady transfer to our Canadian office. She asked us lots of questions about cars, which we engineers answered dutifully. She then took very little of our advice, bought a rusted out car and paid through the nose to get it safetied, didn’t buy winter tires etc.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I get some requests for help, particularly for cheap used car shopping which I get a kick out of, or an assessment of “is it time to buy a new car” sort of thing. I can usually gauge if it’s a request for validation or a genuine ask. The silliest case was my sister in law’s ex-bf searching for a sedan to work ride sharing with (silly concept to begin with). But obliged and tried to help him navigate the seedy world of rebuilt junk and odometer rollbacks (264k mile Accord rolled back to exactly 100,000 miles was a good one). After spending a few afternoons of driving around looking at different cars, a day later he ends up buying a 2009 Altima with very shoddy accident repair on literally every body panel except the roof and 180k miles on the clock. Uh, okay man, have fun with it. Unsurprisingly his relationship with my sister in law didn’t work out so I haven’t heard of him or the car since.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It’s simple: I give advice based on what people seem to want—not what *I* want.

    I have personal preferences for sedans with longitude-mounted engines and handsome, rectilinear SUVs that don’t look like the Predator (sorry, Lexus)…but those go out the window when it’s someone else and their money.

    I’ve had more than one instance in which someone said, “I want a nicely-equipped crossover with an emergency third row, but that’s not too big.” To which I’ve replied: “You should check out the new Acadia. Try an SLT or a Denali.”

    I also believe advice is just like a gift—once you give it, you lose control as to what the other person does with it. So it makes no difference to me if someone is asking me to validate their own preferences, or out of an earnest need for assistance.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree with your last paragraph. You can provide the data and information requested, and that’s really all. When they go their own way (like they usually do) and/or buy the first thing they drive, you have to just let it go.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Well it all depends.

    I have a Music Teacher who has a nearly 300,000 mile gen 6 Maxima and keeps talking about getting rid of it. However she’s so mechanically inept that she had it towed to get a battery put in it. (eye-roll)

    She makes noise about a used car and I just tell her – get the new car you can afford. Even it if that’s a subcompact, get a new car and have a warranty.

    I wouldn’t trust her to pick out a good used car if the entire editorial staff of Consumer Reports tagged along with her and Steve Lang had final approval on the sale.

    My wife when she bought her new car she asked me some questions and I simply said: “Are we going to do this the Dan way or the Stacey (her) way?” She asked me about my way and I told her how we would pick a class of vehicle (like compact CUV) and drive almost every entry in the class, pick the one she liked best, negotiate with several different dealers, and try to get her the best out the door price possible.

    She said: “Were doing it my way.” That entailed going to the ONE dealer she likes best and her family has had a relationship with. Test driving a few different Terrains with different options on them and then negotiating on one. She let me do the negotiation. I got her far more than her trade-in was worth but the dealer wasn’t willing to budge beyond the current incentives.

    Her money, her choice. Happy wife, happy life.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      Nice job on her part getting 300,000 miles out of a Maxima (unless she bought at a BHPH and it had 285,000 on it at the time).

      Sounds like she’d be happy with a Camry. Favorite car of teachers everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I think her husband bought it new before he passed (but she seems to have NO sentimental attachment to it.) I sometimes get the impression he was the brains of the operation.

      • 0 avatar
        ravenuer

        I had a 1996 Max bought new and yes, I put 300k on it when the radiator support rusted out. It still ran good though.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          My brother has a customer with a ’97 that he just did some deferred odds and ends on (driving for 6 years with the CEL on), 257k miles and runs strong, and is thankfully a southern car so no rot. I dumped my ’00 Maxima after 4 months of ownership after I discovered the core support rot.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      “Her money, her choice. Happy wife, happy life.”

      Sage advice for those single folks who plan to get married one day.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I actually advocate for as little mixing of the finances as possible. We’ve done that but it was because of my prior divorce, her father’s prior divorce (he was briefly married before her mother) and her parents “near” divorce before both parties came to their senses.

        It prevents much questioning. As long as you can meet your obligations (we split joint bills 70/30 based on my income vs her income) your money is your money.

        • 0 avatar
          SilverCoupe

          We keep finances separate also. I tell her I will donate toward her choice if I approve of it, but she is free to get whatever she wants with her money. I approved of her previous car, a WRX, for example, but told her if she replaced it with a Fiat 500 she was on her own. She went with a Mini Cooper S instead.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Why were you so against a Fiat 500 but not the Mini Cooper?

          • 0 avatar
            SilverCoupe

            “Why were you so against a Fiat 500 but not the Mini Cooper?”

            Vulpine,

            When my wife’s mother would be in the car with us, I would be relegated to the back seat. I am over 60; have you ever tried to get into the back of a Fiat 500?

            The Abarth was fun to drive, but the one we test drove had a very harsh suspension, likely modified by the previous owner.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @SilverCoupe: In a word, yes. I was 60 when my wife bought hers and when she had a friend along, I’d take the back so they could talk. She’s a big girl, so I had to ride on the passenger side.

            I guess I’m just a bit more flexible than you, though I am “average” at 5’8″, 200#

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I’ve been asked more than a few times, but my favorite somewhat recent one was:

    “What do you think of this 2002 Mercedes E class, it seems like a great deal”

    My opinion was that it’s probably not a good idea unless you’re a Mercedes tech.

    They bought it anyways, and it had the desired effect for a while…”oh wow, nice Mercedes”.

    Not sure what all broke, but the car was gone after about 8 months and I didn’t hear much about it.

    That was a good laugh.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Short answer, no. Most people make irrational car decisions (been there, done that a couple times), and they will take your advice, act like they’re considering it strongly then go do something stupid on a random Tuesday. All you can do is get some enjoyment out of the silent laughter you’ll be doing when their choice blows up in their face.

    What I will do, if they ask me why I never have trouble paying my bills, is tell them what I do for transportation and why I do it that way.

  • avatar
    kenwood

    I fall into this trap all the damn time. Some people ask me outright, or sometimes I butt into a conversation I happen to overhear. I get excited for someone who’s about to buy a car and I do my best to make the best recommendations, but yes, they end up buying something else because the salesman told them that it was a good deal (true story) or someone knew someone else who had one years ago and liked it. Total waste of time and energy! But I can’t help it. Each time I promise myself to respond to such requests for help with “well, go check out Consumer Reports and see what they say” but the thrill of vicarious car shopping and a conversation with someone to find out their likes, wants and needs in a vehicle is too much of a dopamine hit to my brain, that I always go all in. One of these days, I need to show restraint and just try, “well, I had a Porsche 911S a few years ago, and I liked it.”

  • avatar
    loner

    Take a quick look at the political arena in the US. People have vastly different beliefs and they are fairly attached to those beliefs, even if someone from the opposite side of the spectrum thinks they’re an idiot. But they arrived at their beliefs based on the unique and winding path that brought them to where they are in life.

    Similarly, people develop their own unique automotive beliefs, which are the product of their individual experiences with cars. Trying to influence someone else’s beliefs about cars is just about as easy as trying to change their beliefs about politics. (Quick aside – I’d wager those people who troll with brand-specific hate on car forums are also making similar crap posts about politics on other forums.)

    The point is, people are going to think what they’re going to think. And with car choice, there isn’t a huge incentive to change how other people think. So perhaps the wisest course in giving car advice is to maintain a moderate, non-dogmatic mindset and help them find the choice that fits best with their own values and experiences.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Offering car-buying advice is fraught with danger – so I usually stick to offering advice on dating and marriage (mostly unsolicited).

    If you are specifically asked, give your honest opinion – but be sure that it is *their* decision – because sometimes things go wrong.

  • avatar
    Mackie

    If people always listened to auto journalists, we’d all be driving Accords for the rest of our days.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’d rather tell a woman that her jeans make her look fat.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Even my own parents will not take my advice much less a friend or co-worker!

    Case in point I had an older Ranger and got rid of it for several reasons. Replaced it with a Dodge Dakota which everyone will tell you is a terrible vehicle. Well turns out the Dakota is great, no problems with it over the last (gasp) 17 years. So I told my dad to get one. He was not having it and got instead… ugh… a Ranger. Then he spent the next two years complaining about it.

    So like religion and politics recommending a vehicle is a subject that is best avoided. For many people car choice IS a religion, IE: they are either a Chevy or Ford guy and NOTHING you say will change that.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      JMII, you mentioning your parents made me laugh because I have had exactly the opposite experience. When I was 15 my parents asked me my opinion on what cars they should look at for my mom to replace her early-aughts Taurus. I said let’s go check out civics and the scion TC, so thats what we did. She ended up in a first-gen TC (2005). We had that car for 7+ years and it was excellent. It was a great car for me to drive around when I first got my license because the seats reclined all the way back- very handy on dates…

      Over seven years later they asked me the same question. I had since graduated from college and moved on to bigger and better things, but they apparently still trusted my car advice. I said “please go test drive a Mazda 6.” And wouldn’t you know it, mom ended up in a brand new 2012 Mazda 6. She still has it and has been very happy with it.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Auto journalists calling people “wrong” for buying crossovers is like Hillary Clinton calling them “deplorable” for voting Trump. And just as funny.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m old so the folks that ask me about vehicle buying are usually over 50 YO, I ask them what they’ve looked at and then tell them to rent one of each and drive it for at least one week in their regular driving, then choose the one they like best .

    Several have done so and think *I’m* the smart one who told them what to but, all I did was validate their choice….

    Look at the shit I drive and you’ll know one buys on emotion no matter what they say .

    A ‘cheap Mercedes’ will _ALWAYS_ be the mist expen$ive car you ever own .

    ? I thought everyone but me hated Steve Lang ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    On the flip side, I was on the receiving end of much advice to get the Model 3. The only real opponents were my wife and son. My friends wanted me to have the cool car, and it’s easy to spend other people’s money.

    I’m glad I could walk away when the time came. By the way, my wife and son approve of the Ioniq EV much more. It’s cheaper, and doesn’t carry the Tesla baggage. Taking my 18-year-old son’s advice earned me a little respect as a father.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I only tell people about potential reliability or design problems of the models, they are free to buy it knowing the issues.

    Otherwise I’d sound like a high school nerd telling a homing coming queen which guy she should date because he is a great husband material. That just sound, weird.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    Convinced my boss not to buy a Subaru Forester due to lack of power.

    Convinced her to buy a CX-5 Grand Touring Reserve with the new 2.5T. She names her cars, traded in Mulva (the Volvo) and christened the CX-5 Maverick because it is Navy and flies!

    Admittedly, it was a rare win for me who has given out a lot of car buying advice.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Your boss? It might seem like a victory now, but it will probably turn into an own goal. Sure, the Subaru would have been a horrible choice too, but it would have been her horrible choice. I talked a girl into a Mazda 3 hatchback that needed a new head at 80,000 miles. During the same period, I talked another girl I was hanging out with into a Mazda 6 that was just fine until it had exactly no trade in value after she moved to Texas. I heard about that too. Also in 2009, I talked my land lady into a Kia based on what I’d been reading in the magazines and online. It quickly made her nostalgic for the Buick that had caused AAA to cancel her membership and cost her thousands of dollars at every smog-check interval.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    If I’m asked I’ll offer a suggestion, usually about what not to buy based on what I read around about online. For example, my cousin is looking to replace her Equinox, bought used.

    She keeps coming back to the Rogue and her budget is such that she’d end up with a very used one that’s old enough where the transmission is a likely failure point. She’s already been bitten by the terrible transmission problem with a first gen VW DSG and I try to keep her away from likely problems. However, I make it clear that my knowledge only goes so far.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Friends used to ask me for advice. Now, they leave me alone after I’ve made it clear that my advice will always be buy a Lexus from the golden-age of Lexus (1995-2004)preferably a RWD or BOF model because nothing will be so durable, reliable and cheap. They no longer ask.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Are they really “cheap” though? Compared to what?

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        If I can buy a low-mileage, well maintained LS for $10,000CAD and it could outlast just about any brand new $25,000CAD car, that’s cheap to me.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Yeah I suppose within that context it makes some sense. But parts for Lexi are most certainly NOT cheap, good thing they last as long as they do!

          For me, cheap Toyota motoring is a 4cyl ’92-’01 Camry bought for $2000-2700 that can be fed decent-quality aftermarket parts (and OE Toyota stuff where it matters) and run up to 300k without breaking much of a sweat. Avalon if you’re okay with slightly higher parts cost and lower fuel economy.

          That’s my go-to recommendation for anyone cheap-car shopping, with the caveat of course to buy based on history and condition. I’ll gladly buy a well cared for domestic over a ragged out Camry being sold with temp tags in an apartment complex (biggest red flags ever).

      • 0 avatar
        multicam

        gtem, I bought a ‘99 RX300 with 171k miles for $1800 in 2014. It served me well for 2 years and about 12k miles; I then sold it for $2800. Only issue it had was the A/C never worked. It wasn’t RWD or BOF but damn if it wasn’t an excellent Lexus.

        I bought it so cheap because the seller had to leave the island (Oahu) that week. Sold it for almost $3k because used prices are inflated in Hawaii, like all other prices.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Lightspeed,

      I don’t have a lot of friends, but I just printed your Lexus advice to be filed in my permanent car-shopping folder (because computers crash).

      Thanks!

  • avatar

    I sell cars for a living, so I give lots of advice. I always give pause when a customers asks me which one I want…. The performance wagon obviously, I sell Volvo’s after all. But I know darn well the customer doesn’t want a performance wagon, or any wagon most of the time. They want another stupid crossover. I don’t mind how wrong they are because I still get paid.

    Just like auto journalist, I am not stuck with just one car. I have several trucks, antique cars, my personal POS Fiesta, and a dealership demo car. So I don’t need a car that does everything sorta okay like a crossover. I get vehicles for what their primary purpose is. You’re spot on, the purpose of seeking advice in the realm of car shopping generally is to support the persons bias they started with. Few people really want to be told what is smart. I sure don’t.

  • avatar
    PwrdbyM

    I used to be more proactive in passing on auto advice, however got tired of no one listening to reason. I will give it when asked and make more effort with family members. The one thing I will engage on is the office idiot who is giving everyone BS auto advice. That’s when I come out of the woodwork and let facts fly. It seems that everyone thinks they know something about purchasing cars.
    I have to admit I sit in traffic sometimes wondering what could have possibly transpired for that person to buy that poor choice of vehicle.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Jeremy Clarkson has written that when asked by anyone what car they should buy he always answers a Ferarri. Can’t remember which model. His reasoning being that recommending anything else will either result in them ignoring his advice or complaining about what he recommended.

    I’ve learned some lessons regarding providing car advice.

    Back in the mid 1980’s when a single mother who worked with us, and who had to watch every penny, needed to replace a worn out beater with a reliable car for her commute. Since she had nobody to help her mechanically she insisted she ‘needed’ a new car (and any used cars from the Malaise Era could be dodgy). I recommended a Honda Civic. Instead she saved herself a few hundred dollars and bought a new Hyundai Pony.

    I offered to sell my low mileage 6 year old Honda Accord sedan to my wife’s cousin. Instead she bought a Grand Am of the same model year, with more mileage and paid more than I asked for the Accord, because the Grand Am looked ‘sportier’. Another co-worker bought the Accord and drove it for nearly a decade before selling it.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    “But GM can do whatever it wants, within the law, so unless the government takes over all mainstream automakers, we’re left exposed, buffeted by the whims of a buying public able to exercise free choice in what they drive. It’s the same Wild West that existed a century ago.”

    I was going to post some kind of a protest arguing that today’s highly-regulated auto market is quite *unlike* the Wild West. But then I got to thinking about “Wild West” industrialists who bought political influence so that the law of the land reflected the wishes of industry, and who enriched themselves by playing poor people from the Americas, the Far East, and the poor parts of Europe against each other. So I guess I do see the similarity with the world of rampant globalization and CAFE-limited choices … although perhaps not in the way you meant it.

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    I’ve stopped offering car advice to people. My take? “Buy whatever makes you happy. Just don’t be surprised when it puts you down on the side of the road at night.” Cynical, but I sleep better at night.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’m in the middle of this right now with my sister, who is looking to replace her 2011 Explorer. I’ve generated tons of data, many slide presentations, offered numerous configuration models, etc…I *think* she’s listening and taking my advise and information to heart, but we’ll see what she does when I get back home from my deployment and we actually go test drive several options. She’s been patient, which is a good sign. And she’s done a good job of at least narrowing down the field so we’re not looking at every. single. suv. Yes, it’ll be another SUV, but she has seven dogs, so that’s a thing.

    When my mother bought her last car, I listened carefully to what she said she wanted as far as size, shape, features, etc…she had been firmly in the Toyota camp since 1981 (two Corollas and a Camry later), and took her to look at the Buick Verano. It checked off all of the boxes that were important to her. One look at it, and she loved it. She’s had it since 2012 with nary an issue and still loves it. So, yes…some folks do at least listen when I make suggestions!

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Used to think of myself as a car enthusiast. From a very young age I could identify car models, and got excited when someone got something new.

    Then at some point people would ask my advice, friends, colleagues and the likes. I would steer them at something I think they would like and would suit their needs. Then they would come back to me “Oh I just went out and bought (any generic crossover). It does me OK.”

    I’ve given up.
    It occurred to me the other day, when I saw some suspicious characters in some Hyundai crossover/SUV that I couldn’t even identify the model. Because I’ve lost interest. I don’t care anymore. When the artworks you were enthusiastic about, the sculptures you admired, become boxy white goods with the elegance of a dying Rhino, it’s time to step back and give up.

    Yes there are some interesting cars out there, mostly cars I’ll never afford, but day to day I no longer care what everyone is driving as I know I’ll be strangely disappointed for no reason. It’s peoples choices what they buy, and it is stupid for me to let emotional responses occur over it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I took my own advice once and bought a new Honda, which was a lemon. So I tell people that any car purchase is a gamble.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      SCE,

      I would really like to like Honda. I am told they view themselves as an engine company. I had a pressure washer with a Honda engine – was the single worst engine I’ve ever had on a piece of power equipment. (And then the transmission went on our [purchased used] 1995 Odyssey – which by the way had the minivan packaging down *perfectly*.)

      On a side note, inspired by your screen name I have spent way too much money on Apollo books in the past year.

      Thanks always for your insight (was especially useful to me in the early Leaf days).

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Most people’s opinions are sh1t, so they shouldn’t be surprised when other’s ignore their advice.

    Ask me poignant advice and I’ll give if it’s in my within my realm of expertise. If I have little to no experience, I will confidently tell you “I don’t know”.

    There’s not much that irritates me more than when some Dunning Krueger starts droning on thinking he’s an expert on a subject he really knows nothing about.

  • avatar
    squelchy451

    Thing is, people value different things and don’t have finely attenuated senses. It’s all about maximising the utility function. I tend to push Lexus, Toyota, VW, and Audi (approximately in that order), as I don’t think Benz, BMW, most other European or Japanese brands don’t offer anything compelling. Unless getting a particular brand/car is what they’re after.

  • avatar
    ilkhan

    Unless I’m asked ahead of time, and the vehicle they are asking about is genuinely *bad* (and there aren’t a lot of those being sold any more), I keep my mouth shut or say “yeah, that a decent option in a sea of better options, because [reasons that fit what they are actually asking for]”.

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