Annual Rant: Cars are NOT Gifts

Every year I rant about this. (See the evidence from last year here and here.) And I will probably keep ranting about it.

I HATE the car commercials that indicate you should buy a car as a gift. HATE THEM. Now, these commercials are almost always Lexus (this year’s biggest offender so far), Acura, Mercedes commercials- you know, luxury cars, though last year there was the Buick commercial. But still, even if you’re “rich” why does buying someone else a car seem like a good idea to anyone?

I know what C’s dream car is. Even if I had the money to pay for it in cash, I still wouldn’t buy it for him as a surprise. I would want him to be involved in the decision. I would want to make sure every option was exactly what he wanted. And there’s always the chance he would say “Thank you for the thought, but there are better things we can do with our money.”

We watch the current Lexus commercials and he currently adds a line of dialog to the end “I finally got access to my trust fund.”

Maybe I’m just jealous that the commercial always depict people “younger” than me, and there’s no way we could afford a Lexus/Acura/Mercedes. I don’t think so, though, because unless they’re driving daddy’s car, I don’t know anyone under mid-40s who drives a new luxury car, and I’m able to separate out the myth of advertising from reality.


The worst part is that a lot of these commercials then go on to tout the financing or lease options. So is this your only gift for the next 2-5 years, since the giver will be paying on it every month for the terms of the lease/loan? Hopefully you’re in a very committed long term relationship (I don’t say married because that’s not the only long term committed relationship there is. And for some, it’s not that long term or committed.) And if you are, are you one of those couples who manages to keep all finances separate?

You see, if I bought C a car on a loan or leased a car, it wouldn’t be a gift from me. Our finances are not separate, so WE would be paying for it for the length of the agreement. That’s not a gift, that’s a mutual decision, and should be made that way, you know, mutually.


I do have to say that I am amused by the current Honda commercial with Patrick Warburton (who, IMHO, was the only good thing about Seinfeld) in which he’s standing next to a car with a bow and says “Unless you’re a millionaire, you probably don’t give cars as gifts,” pulls the bow off, and then goes on to talk about the current good deals on Hondas. At the end, he picks up the bow and puts it back on the car saying “except this one, this one is a gift for my niece.” I like the poking fun at the luxury car commercials, but also the admission from him that he is a millionaire (in a very subtle way).

Will this make me buy a Honda? No. They make good cars, but we’re pretty set on diesel engines, which Honda doesn’t do. Still, it doesn’t make me hate them. I would consider a Honda if they made a car I wanted. I will not ever buy a Lexus or an Acura, and even Mercedes is pretty iffy (except for maybe a late 70s/early 80s diesel that’s already had a bio-d conversion). But even that would be from a private seller, never a dealer.


So that’s my “don’t buy a car as a gift” rant for this year. I am certain I will have other holiday commercial rants as December wears on. Next year, I’m going to have to figure out a way to put this rant on my pet blog