Buying a Car in the U.S. If Donald Trump Gets Elected President

Donald Trump 1 photo
Photo: Michael Vadon, edited by autoevolution
After the global financial crisis of 2007-08, also known as the second Great Depression in some countries, we can positively say that we've been slowly recovering to even higher levels than before.
Especially when it comes to the U.S., things aren't looking as dire as they looked 5 or 6 years ago, and even the automotive industry is stronger than it's ever been. There are fewer carmakers around, sadly, but those that remained are probably stronger than ever and also have global ambitions.

There is the possibility of a storm brewing in the not-so-far distance, though, and its main instigator's name just so happens to rhyme with “dump.” We don't usually talk politics on autoevolution, but in this case, we'll make an exception for an obvious reason; if Donald Trump Gets elected President, a lot of car guys will suffer.

Everyone, from the carmakers themselves to the car-buying public, will need to overhaul their way of conducting business in the United States entirely. Just like they did during the financial crisis, most carmakers will probably survive in the long run, so we're here to talk about what will happen with individuals looking to buy a car, whether it's foreign or U.S.-made.

Apart from building a gigantic wall at the Mexican border, Trump also vows to “make” most American companies move their main factories and build all their products in the United States. Let's say that Tesla is off the hook in this regard, but the Big Three make lots of their cars outside the U.S. borders, in case you haven't noticed by now.

This year could be a tough one for the car buying public for more than one reason. A sudden reduction in the availability of loans in the U.S., just like in 2007-08, could turn credit into a bottomless pit that will scare most people.

Buying power could decrease considerably once again, the dollar may tumble, and gas prices could see bigger numbers at the pump, giving a blow to car customers everywhere. Car manufacturers could also have a rough time and start to cut costs by closing plants, dealerships or even slow selling model lines or brands altogether. It all depends on how far Trump will want to go when it comes to his chauvinism.

Consumers may be caught between the hammer and the anvil because the money available to them for buying a vehicle will decrease, while car manufacturers and dealers will go into the “fewer costs, more profit” mode once more. From the black tunnel of negativity induced by possible changes in the economic situation comes a bright ray of light that hasn't been noticed by many, though.

All the “evil” brought upon car buyers by a Trump-induced recession can translate into two broad conclusions. First, car dealers will have to get rid of their inventory and increase profitability while people in the market for a vehicle will try to spend less. In other words, it might actually be the best time to get a good deal on the car you always wanted.

New or used?

Of course, this question will be asked no matter what kind of economic situation we live in. The truth is, the used car market tends to be a little bit different in “fewer bucks in your pocket” times. For example, let's say that you're a buyer who looks for a brand new 2016 Audi A4, but your bank credit isn't quite easy on you. You have two choices, either go for a less costing Audi A3 Sedan or search for a used late-model A4 instead. OK, so we've taken care of the demand, but what about the offers?

The first thing to know during an economic slowdown is that you'll find less selection on car lots. Less selection at the dealership means that you're going to be stuck with less or even no personalization on your brand new car and just get what you're being offered.

Considering the “personalization factor” was the main reason you wanted to buy a new car in the first place, this advantage is somewhat decreased, so why not look for a much cheaper used one instead? Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles cost a bit more than a regular second-hand car but they come with a trouble-free warranty feature and are still cheaper than a new one.

Econoboxes or gas-guzzlers?

The majority thinks this is a no-brainer. During MadMax times of high gas prices and poor credit scores, most people tend to look away from the big cars and focus on smaller and more fuel-efficient compacts and/or hybrids.

The thing is, car manufacturers know this and most dealerships will be practically giving full-size gas-guzzling SUVs for free just to get them off their car lots. This also means that the much more in demand fuel-sipping hybrids and the likes will get no incentives, and no deals whatsoever since people actually WANT to buy them.

In other words, you should think about what's more expensive in the long run, a cheaper car known to drink more fuel or a costlier one that uses less fuel (or no fuel at all in the traditional sense)? You should do your math depending on the ratio between the average number of miles you do in a year, the sticker price and how many years you intend to keep the car.

Considering a recent explosion in discount deals on gas-guzzlers, it might actually be cheaper to buy and consequently to run a standard sedan on the cheap side than its hybrid and subsequently costlier counterpart.

Credit, leasing or cash upfront?

During an economic crisis, just about every bank or credit institution there is will overhaul its credit availability and requirements, therefore constricting the buyers' options. Most people with below-average credit will either not get the money they request or get into trouble in the long term since they might not afford the payments.

In the happy scenario that your credit is good, you can go for a longer lease, but you should be careful nevertheless. The best options when buying a car during an economic slowdown might be with the cash upfront, a very short lease or with a very high down payment on a longer one. In the end, there's always the option of just using public transportation or keeping your old car until the crisis is over, or Trump loses elections for a second presidential term.
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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