Study Shows That 40 Percent of New Car Buyers Regret Their Purchase

Buyer’s remorse can rear its ugly head whenever you purchase anything, especially a car. A car is one of the biggest purchases that you’ll ever make in your lifetime, after all. So, it’s not too surprising that a recent survey showed that around 40 percent of new car buyers regretted their purchase.

The study showed that buyer’s remorse is a real issue when buying a car

Row of Toyota cars at a dealership, highlighting a story about the most popular car colors
Toyota cars at a dealership | David McNew/Getty Images

According to a recent study conducted by Lending Tree – which surveyed 1,919 car buyers – nearly four in 10 Americans (39%) that have bought a car regret their decision. Around 14% of those consumers cited that they wish they had purchased a different make and model altogether, while 10% said that they bought a car they couldn’t afford. Of course, there’s also the issue of many consumers feeling like they could have gotten a better deal as well (8%).

Buyer’s remorse decreased depending on the buyer’s age and length of ownership

A gray Ford Bronco is parked outside of a dealership.
A gray Ford Bronco is parked outside of a dealership | Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

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While the study showed nearly half (47%) of Americans regretted something about their new car purchase, the number decreased depending on the length of ownership. Only around 24% of Americans that purchased their cars six or more years ago regretted their purchase. But the buyer’s age and experience with buying cars also play a factor.

Thus, 80% of baby boomers have no car-buying regrets compared to 40% of Gen Zers. And when it comes to other buying regrets — like not shopping around enough for a car loan – the study showed that 7% of millennials were regretful, while 3% of Gen Xers (ages 41 to 55) and 2% of baby boomers (ages 56 to 75) regretted it for that reason.

Car buyers who earn more struggle more with car payments

Honda dealership, where the 2022 Honda Passport Trailsport is sold, with the blue section and Honda logo on the building.
Honda dealership | Getty Images

One interesting part of the survey revealed that 17% of car owners struggle to pay their monthly car payments. And while you might think this result stems from low-income earners, the opposite is true. Instead, the study showed that “the higher the income, the more people struggle.” In fact, 28% of the respondents that make $100,000 per year or more have difficulty paying their bills. That’s more than double the 12% of struggling respondents that make $35,000 or less every year.

The struggle is definitely real as Cox Automotive recently reported that the average price of a new car is $47,000 thanks to the recent inventory shortages and a spike in demand over the past year. So it’s no surprise that Lending Tree also found that 33% of Americans have experienced or are currently “underwater” on their car loans – which is when they owe more than the car is worth.

What can you do if you regret your car purchase?

Lending Tree also gave some helpful tips for buyers that end up regretting their new car purchase. Here are some of your options if you ever feel regretful after buying a car:

  • Work with the dealership: If you just purchased a new car and regret it, then you can always ask the dealership that you bought it from to work with you. They may be able to void the paperwork and switch you to another car.
  • Sell or trade the vehicle: If the dealership won’t work with you, then you can always sell the car right away or trade it in for the one that you want. Just know that there may be some extra cost involved.
  • Refinance the car: If your monthly payments are what’s keeping you down, then you can always refinance the loan that you received at a later date to lower them with a lower interest rate.

While buyer’s remorse is prevalent in new car buying, it doesn’t mean that you have to live with it. With some careful planning, you may be able to get into the car that you want after purchasing a car that you don’t want. Otherwise, plan ahead when car shopping, and as always, do as much research as you can before signing all of the documents.

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