Before you think that a woman doesn’t deserve special treatment, especially when buying a car, just read my first few thoughts on the matter. In fact, I can sum this up in one sentence.
What a woman needs to know when buying a car is exactly the same as what a man needs to know.
But there’s no getting around it. Women are treated differently when buying a car. And I have some recent examples supporting that.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was probably going to buy a Toyota Prius V after I moved. Well… I’ve moved and I’ve been looking and test driving.
It started when my husband found the car I was looking for and put a deposit down on it. So I decided to test drive it and get my trade-in car assessed before the deposit became non-refundable. And here’s how it went down.
I showed up a little frazzled after an hour long drive with my son who was none too keen on “test driving” a car. I visited the sales rep who assured me my “husband had picked out a really nice car for me.”
Oh really? My husband picked out the car for little ol’ me? That was sweet of him.
So we test drove it and he explained that, of course, the car we were test driving was unfortunately not the color I wanted.
Oh really? Because I was pretty sure the EXTERIOR COLOR affects the performance of the engine on a test drive.
Then, as we got onto the highway and I told him I wanted to test the acceleration of the car, he switches it to “Power” mode to give me the extra gasoline engine boost. Yeah. That wasn’t what I really had in mind.
If I could have worn a name tag that said, “Hello. I’m a silly woman that knows nothing about cars,” I would have.
I waited patiently as he took information about my trade-in and had my car assessed. He came back with what I felt was a ridiculously low offer. He pleaded slightly and then I walked out. The next day, the manager called my husband to try to work out a deal. No go.
So we went to another Toyota dealer. This time, the guy was really knowledgable about the car but he kept telling every detail to my husband. Because apparently women can’t understand big words like horsepower and torque. We only understand “where do we put our purse?”
He came back with an offer we refused and then he tried to play the numbers game and again, we walked out.
And today, we went to a third Toyota dealership. And we got exactly what we wanted – a different car altogether.
So, ladies, listen up. If you’re looking to buy a car, here’s what you need to know.
Top 10 Car Buying Tips for Women
1. Don’t have your husband call about ANYTHING. Because if he does, they’ll assume he is the sole decision maker.
2. When you do visit a dealership, take a man with you. I know that seems to contradict all of my feelings but if you have a man in your corner, even if he’s not buying the car, your voice will be heard a little louder.
3. Women are emotional buyers. Even if we’re not, that’s what car salesmen think. Therefore, the rock solid level-headed MAN is there to balance out our silly emotions. At least, that’s what the sales rep will think.
4. Know everything you can about the car you are looking at. The websites today have so much information that you have the ability to show how much you know about the car you want to buy and can ask intelligent questions. It helps gives you more of an air of authority if the whole man-thing isn’t working out for you.
5. Ask to look under the hood. Even if you could care less what is under the hood and don’t know what the dipstick is, pretend you know and you care. Again, it goes back to showing you know something about cars.
6. Know the true market value of the car you want. This isn’t the MSRP and it isn’t the invoice price. It is the average price that the car you want is selling for in your area (based on zip code). It’s based on supply and demand and gives you a realistic look at what you should pay. I usually use CarsDirect.com Target Price or Edmunds.com True Market Value.
7. Assume that EVERYTHING is negotiable. Because it is. This includes the price of the car, the value of your trade-in, the package prices, the dealer fees, and the interest rate on your financing. It sucks to have to argue every point but if you want a good price, you need to fight. They won’t give it to you otherwise.
8. Be prepared to walk away. NEVER buy on impulse and never buy because you feel bad or think you’ll lose the deal. It’s a game and I will almost guarantee that if you walk out of a dealership because you are unhappy with the terms, you will get another offer from them the next day that is the same or very close to the offer you actually want.
9. Pit the dealerships against each other. It sounds terrible but they play the same game. “Well, XYZ Dealership will sell me the car for $26.5 AND give me the $500 rebate. Can you match that?” Ultimately, this is how we got the deal we wanted. And we were honest about that.
10. Know your rock bottom deal. Don’t play games. The best way to get a deal is to give an ultimatum. Tell the sales rep that if they can give you THIS car at THIS price, you will buy right now, on the spot. That motivates them to work harder for you.
I’m going to stop at 10 because I like nice, even numbers. But I could go on. Like the “sales manager”? The sales rep likes to blame everything on his manager, a seldom-seen figure who seems to wield power over everything. If you ever want to know how those conversations really go down, watch the movie Fargo (love that movie).
Having just come through the very traumatic car buying experience that had a happy ending, and having done this with almost every single car deal I’ve ever made, I know whereof I speak. You owe it to yourself to get the best deal. I’m just here to cheer you on.
This post was originally published on May 25, 2012.