Growing up and living in New York I never had the need to drive. I was never the girl who wanted her license as soon as she turned 18, but as I got older, I wanted to learn to drive and get a car. Turns out this was a weakness of mine, and it would take some time for me to finally get my license, but I did.
I learned to drive in a truck which I love so much. It is the vehicle that I learned on and passed my driver’s exam but I need a car not a truck. So, it was time to go looking a buying a car an be totally overwhelming. The actual process may seem time consuming and frustrating, especially if you’ve never done it before.
Whether you’re a newbie or just want to freshen up some of your negotiation tactics, I have compiled some valuable car buying tips for women based on my own personal experience buying and helping others to buy their cars.
Here are a few tips that can help you:
Buy used. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that buying new cars is overrated and expensive. Instead, I prefer to buy a well-maintained used car with low mileage and a great warranty. In case you’re wondering where I found it: Cars.com an amazing resource for used vehicles.
Stick to the plan. Part one is choosing a car; part two is negotiating the price; part three is paying for the car. Call me Captain Obvious, but many people get sidetracked from this very simple plan. Don’t skip ahead to discussing financing when you haven’t negotiated the final, out-the-door price of the car yet. And don’t get talked into a car or features that you haven’t researched in advance to determine whether or not it’s what you really want/need/can afford.
Time it to your advantage. Statistically speaking, the spring months are the worst time to buy a new car but there really isn’t much seasonality in my experience. I’ve gotten screaming deals in December, March and even June. Car dealerships have monthly and quarterly quotas that determine bonus levels for the sales staff, so use this pressure to your advantage by shopping and buying at the end of the month or quarter. Also, it may be wise to finalize a deal at the end of the day when the salesperson is less likely to want to prolong the negotiation.
If you’re a woman, then you’re an easy target. Car salespeople may assume that you are not a strong negotiator and can be easily swayed with some flashy language and charm. Let them make assumptions all day long. What they don’t know is that you’re a boss lady and you’ve come prepared to do a deal on your terms.
Patience. More often than not, I start and finish the car buying process in one week or less. It’s a fast transaction overall, but the steps to completion require Buddha-like patience and the ability to play things extra cool even when the other person is clearly stressing out or trying to pressure you into a decision. You’ve got to be coy and play a little hard to get, but always remain in control.
Don’t volunteer information, such as your buying budget, trade-in value, your plans for your existing car, or financing preferences or monthly budget for car payments. I can almost guarantee that one of the first questions you’ll be asked is, “So, how much were you looking to spend per month?” Let them assume that you are going to be paying cash, or flat out tell them that you’re going to pay cash. If a salesperson tries to engage you on those topics, just say “we’ll get to that later” and keep the dialogue focused on the actual price of the car and getting it lowered.
Remember the power of “no” and be prepared to walk away at any time. This goes part and parcel with the patience tip. If you’ve been negotiating and feel like you’re hitting a wall without getting to your goal price, your most potent tactic is to politely end the negotiation. Trust me, this will almost always push the negotiation into a productive direction. They know that you may not come back and you could easily take their so-called “best offer” to another dealer and use it to negotiate a better deal there (especially since you can so easily shop around your region without leaving your home).
Shop around. Once you receive quotes from specific dealerships, compare them to ensure that you’ve got an apples-to-apples view. For example, there can be a big difference between a 2WD and 4WD model of the same car. Review whether any extra fees are withheld or included in price quotes. If one dealer gives you a price you like, you can email or call the quote in to another dealer to get competing offers. In some cases, you can try to push for the price you want even without a supporting quote from a dealership, but be careful not to bluff too much here as the salesperson may ask you to send a copy of the actual quote to prove that it’s legitimate.
Be open about geography and don’t settle for what is on the lot. This is one of my favorite car buying tips for women. Inventory is always changing, so don’t be discouraged if the car you want with the features you want in the color you want is not available at the dealership closest to you. In dating, geographic desirability is important. But with something as infrequent as a car purchase, distance should not be a deal breaker.
It may be worthwhile to drive a few hours to pick up your new ride, assuming you can get the lion’s share of the negotiation finished before you do so. And if you’re willing to wait a few days, a dealership can always find your car in another city or state and have it shipped in. Although it’s not their first choice, dealerships often trade inventory with one another in order to get a deal done.
Extended warranties and other fun stuff. When you have done the deal and it’s time to sign the final paperwork, be sure to review the details carefully. Sometimes the final bill will have a bunch of extra items on it that are itemized at an additional cost (rust protection, fabric protection, VIN etching, tinted windows, etc). Cross them out and ask for a revised total. If they push back on it, stand your ground.
Paint protection and rust proofing are total gimmicks. Ignore any scare tactics and say no as many times as necessary. The same goes for extended warranties; be firm in declining these offers unless truly necessary (like you plan to drive the car forever and it only comes with a 60K warranty from the manufacturer, or if the car is exotic or has a below-average reliability score). Extended warranties in particular are extremely overpriced (a 50% cut is not unusual commission for a dealer) and you really may not need one.
Cars.com has a lot of great information. https://www.cars.com/ articles/2013/09/how-carscom- conducts-car-seat-checks/
Do you have any tips that you have for shopping for a car?