According to Nolo, women buy 54% of vehicles in the U.S. and influence roughly 84% of vehicle buying decisions. White has been the number one car color choice since 2006, and it’s likely that women are influencing that trend. But many women dread the car-buying process because, too often, they are patronized, ignored, or short-changed at dealerships.
So as a woman looking to purchase a vehicle, how can you get past this kind of treatment? Fortunately, it’s more than possible to accomplish.
Keep reading to learn a few tips and tricks to help you get the vehicle of your dreams, complete with the price and treatment you deserve at the dealership.
Do Your Homework
This is an all-purpose tip for people looking to purchase a car. Say you get a brochure in the mail for a car you’re considering. If you, like 92% of other consumers, prefer direct mail to help you make purchasing decisions, this is a great place to start.
Direct mail likely has information both about the vehicle being advertised and a local dealership. Let’s take a look at some other homework assignments you should complete before heading to the showroom, though.
- Learn about your car(s) of choice: Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few cars, learn all you can about them. Key areas to study include general pros and cons, model year differences, and driver reviews. Make a list of the features you really want. Are you looking for an electric vehicle? Make sure you know the stats! Almost 800,000 Americans have made the switch. Bringing that knowledge with you could make all the difference in your conversation with a salesperson.
- Write down questions for the dealer: If you can’t find a reliable answer online, or need more specifics about the specs of your chosen vehicles, write your questions down. Preparation for the dealership is crucial.
- Make a trim line decision: During your research, pay close attention to trim lines and extra features. Deciding ahead of time what you do and don’t want could save you hundreds of dollars.
Let the Salesperson Know You’re Informed
The key to an efficient, productive vehicle sale is letting the salesperson know you are already informed about your vehicle of choice. Cathy Droz, auto journalist and author of A Women’s Guide To Buying A Car With Confidence And Street Smarts: Don’t Let These High Heels Fool You, knows a few things about the seemingly daunting process of purchasing a car.
“Just because we are wearing heels, and are female, doesn’t mean we don’t know what we are doing,” Droz says. “Already know your credit score. Already know what you want.”
Auto salespeople can sometimes spend what seems like hours talking about insignificant features. To cut off this conversation before it starts, ask some of the questions you’ve prepared to let the salesperson know you’ve already done the necessary research.
Questions about used vehicles are especially important. Up to 14 million vehicles on the road today are upwards of 25 years old, which means any used car could have a number of age-related issues.
Remember You Have Purchasing Power
There are car dealerships that want your business and will make an effort to make you feel comfortable and respected as a buyer. If you walk into a dealership and, despite making excellent preparations, are brushed off or patronized, you have the power to walk out. The only person in charge of your vehicle buying process is you. It pays well to remember that!
Libby Copeland of Slate even recommends buying a car online if you’re a woman. According to Copeland, online vehicle shopping takes brush-offs and patronizing comments out of the equation entirely.
“Car dealerships are a prime example of settings where women have less power for a whole host of reasons,” Copeland writes. “Not only do virtual settings eliminate the status markers that might otherwise inhibit behavior, but they make it easier to remain poker-faced even if you are intimidated.”
All this to say that you have the power to make decisions when you’re purchasing a vehicle. Whether you’re in a physical car dealership or a virtual one, arming yourself with knowledge and confidence can be a game changer. Using a combination of Droz’s and Copeland’s tips, your next car buying adventure will be just that — an adventure!