If you are like most Americans, you probably have not considered automotive repair as a something that you can give as a holiday present. Chances are that you have thought about a new car as the ultimate Christmas gift, and this is because this is the season when you start seeing television commercial spots featuring a brand-new car as a gift. In such commercials, the invariable factor is that the vehicle is wrapped with a giant ribbon, and it was somehow parked in front of the house without the recipient’s knowledge for the purpose of keeping it as a pleasant surprise.
The reality of gifting a new car as a surprise for Christmas is that it is not very practical unless money is not a problem. For a family in Raleigh, for example, purchasing a new car for a spouse or child is only a first step; the title must be legally transferred to the recipient within 28 days or else the Department of Motor Vehicles will impose a monetary fine. The good news is that immediate family members will qualify to receive the Highway Use Tax Exemption Certificate, but the sales tax will still apply. There is also the matter of the recipient not liking the gift, and this has actually happened according to psychosocial consumer researchers who have documented cases in which some spouses felt as if they were left out of the car shopping process.
When Automotive Repair Makes a Good Gift
There is a good reason for automakers and car dealerships to run commercials during the holiday season. December is a notoriously slow month for new auto sales, and dealers are more willing to offer nice discounts up to 7%. For this reason, a better idea is to help family members with financial incentives such as a check for the down payment and letting the recipient, who will ultimately be the driver and owner, choose the car of his or her preference.
According to research by Consumer Reports, giving new cars as Christmas presents peaked during the holiday seasons from the mid-1990s until 2007, which happened to be a period of great economic prosperity for many Americans. Once the global financial crisis and the Great Recession hit in 2008, this gift-giving trend slowed down considerably and never quite recovered. American drivers these days are more interested in keeping their cars on the road longer, and this is why it makes more sense to consider automotive repair as a smart gift this holiday season.
In 2016, some car dealerships with service departments in Missouri and Michigan started offering discounted holiday gift certificates for services such as oil changes and wheel alignments. In Ohio, a dealership chain offered more comprehensive certificates for “vehicle reconditioning,” which ended up being very popular. In California, Mexican-American families are known to openly talk with their children about the conditions of their cars and figure out the amount of automotive repair needed; the services are then scheduled to be completed either a few days before or after Christmas.
Proper Etiquette When Gifting Automotive Repair
Although a gift card, certificate, or arrangement with a repair shop may not seem like a tangible holiday gift, the aforementioned car dealers have reported that these presents have been well-received, even more so than car detailing gift certificates, which tend to be more common as holiday presents. These gifts are easy to wrap, package, and place under the tree; moreover, you can always get creative and attach them to the hand of a stuffed teddy bear or place them inside a box of Christmas cookies.
In the case of families who discuss auto repair needs, they can visit the service shop together for the purpose of learning how much is needed to bring the car to good mechanical condition. A good idea to make this present even nicer would be to schedule a family dinner and celebrate at their favorite restaurant in Raleigh after the car comes out of the shop.
When it comes to holiday presents, it is always the thought that counts. If you know that loved ones are spending money on car maintenance and repair, this gift will certainly be appreciated because everyone enjoys saving a few bucks. If you know that your loved one’s vehicle is in dire need of repair that has been delayed for financial reasons, this type of gift will resonate even more, especially if the car is used on a daily basis for commuting to work or school.