We recently discovered a report published by (surprise!) a car dealer that was all about car shopping as a woman.
(No, we’re not going to link to it – we don’t believe in promoting bad content and there are plenty of good articles out there that you should read instead)
It was so full of subtle misogyny and backhanded sexism (not to mention misspellings and grammatical mistakes) that we felt the need to correct the egregious mistakes and glaring incomprehension contained within.
The general consensus on buying a car is that it’s an unpleasant experience. The good news is that we live in a digital age of empowerment that puts more might in the hands of the consumer than car dealers want you to have. Below are some powerful tips and tricks to help you buy a car…not “as a woman,” but as a car shopper.
Don’t be Afraid to Walk Away
We’re putting this one first because it’s probably the most important. Car salesmen thrive on pressure – specifically, pressuring you to buy a car that you may or may not want. Once you’re in the dealership, they don’t want to let you leave unless it’s in a car that they sold you. They will guilt trip you (there should be an annual award for “saddest face” among dealerships), they will steal your car keys (“just so they can have their service guys check it out and give you a fair price on trade in”), they will ask you politely to wait (“so I can ask my manager if I can get you a better deal”), and they will straight up TELL YOU to wait (“don’t leave yet – I have an idea that I want to run by my boss…”).
Ignore all of these and walk out.
You must remember at all times that you are there for you and nobody else, and if, at any point, you are not happy or comfortable, leave the dealership. If you’re uneasy about doing so, be polite, but firm: “I’m sorry, this really isn’t the right thing for me, I need to be going.”
Or you can be more direct: “Thank you, but I’m not interested in purchasing today.”
But do not wait, do not hesitate, do not pass GO and collect $200 – WALK AWAY.
You have the power, you are in control, and the best way to assert it is to let them know you’re leaving. You can always go back later if you want to give them another shot at earning your business (although the fact that you had to walk away at all probably indicates that they can’t or won’t).
Use the Internet
The internet is the great democratizer; anybody can find anything, so get online and get looking.
It’s a frequent tactic of dealers to put their best deals online as a way to try and lure people in and then upsell them on a better car, but don’t be afraid to demand the car and price you found online. If they waffle or try to change your mind, see tip #1.
You can easily use the internet to play dealers against each other as well and get the best price possible. Find a few vehicles that you’re interested in and have them pulled up on your smartphone, ready to present to the dealer or salesman you’re talking to.
Do your research, as well, on the dealerships in your area and beyond. There are an endless supply of reviews out there, so before you ever even get into your car to visit a lot, make sure you’ve read about it and seen what other people say about it. Call ahead and set up a specific time to meet someone so you know who you’ll be talking to once you arrive. If you get there and the person you’re supposed to meet isn’t there, see tip #1 above.
Ask for Discounts
There are an astonishing amount of discounts on cars – it’s just that most people don’t know about them.
If you’re a teacher, veteran, college student, or Costco member, you’ll get a discount on your car. Also, most major businesses and corporations (including state and federal organizations, like hospitals) also offer discounts on vehicle purchases.
And, as always, if you don’t get a price you like or are comfortable with, or fits your budget, re-read tip #1.
It would be wonderful if everybody could be treated fairly and equally when they step foot on a car lot, but overcoming more than a thousand years of societal programming takes time. Even the very best-intentioned salesmen and businesses still fall back on old stereotypes, so it’s all-too-common to hear questions like “Do we need to check with your husband?” or “So how many kids are you going to have to drive around?” or even “Are you sure you can handle this much car?”
The only way to force the change that needs to happen is to take part in it.
By being smarter, stronger, and better at buying a car than the dealerships are at selling them, you can get exactly what you want, how you want it, at a fair and affordable price that makes you happy.
And that’s what buying a car should do.
Got any tips on beating the system? Have you recently had a notably good or bad car-buying experience? Tell us about it! Sound off in the comments below!