Car Buying Tips for Women
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-Doing the research
-Going to a dealership with confidence
-Having a mechanic check the vehicle and asking the right questions
-Negotiating a price
In 2021, it’s still difficult for female car buyers to walk into a dealership with confidence that they won’t feel exploited. This lack of confidence is reflective of the unfortunate lack of trust in the automotive industry. According to an American study by Girl Power Marketing, 77% of women bring a male counterpart to the dealership to avoid feeling exploited. While this is undoubtedly a big problem, some women don’t have the option to bring in a male to accompany them to the dealership. To further express this point, 8 out of 10 women find the car buying experience stressful compared to 6 out of 10 consumers overall. A lot of these stresses stem from how male-dominated the automotive industry is. In this article, we will go over five tips every Canadian woman car buyer should know and follow when going into a car dealership.
1. Research Cars and dealerships
The first step of buying a car is deciding what you can afford. Typically, the rule is to never spend more than 18% of your annual income on a car. Once you’ve decided on a budget, you need to choose a class of vehicle, whether it be a van, car, SUV, or truck, and then research the top models. Using a car loan calculator is a great way to estimate ahead of time what your financing payments will be.
It’s essential to get a car that fits your lifestyle from a practical standpoint. Don’t buy a two-door hatchback if you have two children and a golden retriever. If you’ve decided that you need a van, for example, now it’s time to research the top vans on the market. Factors you need to consider when researching are: fuel efficiency, reliability, driving performance, and warranty options.
Now that you have a firm idea of your budget and have some knowledge of a few of the vehicles you’re interested in, it’s time to find a dealership. It’s important to understand that not all dealerships are the same. Some have very high-pressure sales tactics that stem from management having high sales requirements from their salespeople. Other dealerships take a much more relaxed approach in their sales process. You can do a lot of this research just by reading reviews and forums online to see other people’s experiences. It’s best to narrow it down to two or three dealerships, so you have the option to go elsewhere if you’re not satisfied with the first one or two you visit.
It’s important that at no point you tell the salesperson the maximum amount you’re willing to pay because they’ll figure out a way to make that number the best they can do, plus a little more. It will likely be the first thing they ask once you’ve walked in the door, but keep that to yourself. It’s ok to give a rough number, but don’t show all of your cards.
2. Walk into the dealership with confidence
You’ve done the research, you know the market, you know the process, and you know what you’re looking for. Remind yourself that you’re not going into this process blind and that you’re prepared for what’s to come. When you first meet with a salesperson, let them know quickly through your questions that you know what you’re talking about. If you took notes in the research process, bring them into the dealership and add to those notes as you get more information from the salesperson.
This isn’t to say that if you’re not knowledgeable on the process and about the car you want to buy that the dealership will take advantage of you. But if they do happen to be an unethical salesperson, they are much more likely to see you as an easy target if you seem confused and uneducated on the process.
3. Trust your instincts
It shouldn’t take more than an hour for you to have made up your mind as to whether you trust the salesperson you’re dealing with or if you think they’re trying to exploit you. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right, and you should consider going to the next dealership on your list. It’s ok to stand up for yourself and ask tough questions if you feel the salesperson may be trying to steer you in a direction you don’t want to go. If you’re feeling good about how the process is going and have honed your sights on a particular vehicle or two, it means you're ready for the next step.
4. Bring in a mechanic & ask questions
By this point, you have a pretty good idea of what vehicle you want. Now you must do your due diligence on inspecting the vehicle. It’s always best when buying a used car to have a third-party mechanic inspect it. It would be well worth the $100-$200 to have an unbiased mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle before you choose to make an offer. Have him/her come along for a test drive so they can get the full picture of how the vehicle performs. You can’t always trust that the dealership mechanics won’t have a vested interest in certifying a vehicle they’re trying to sell.
As the old saying goes, the only stupid question is the question you never asked. Remember that you are shopping for a vehicle that costs thousands of dollars, and you’ll be relying on it to perform as advertised for the next 5 to 10 years. You shouldn’t be passive in this process. If there’s something you don’t understand, ask. If there’s something you disagree with, ask for an explanation. If you think that what the salesperson just said sounds like a load of crap in an attempt to upsell you, ask him to show you proof or justify his/her words. Once again, this isn’t to say all salespeople are bad and untrustworthy, but those shady salespeople do exist, and you need to be vigilant throughout the process.
5. Negotiate a price
You’ve come this far following all of our steps successfully. Now it’s time for the most critical step, negotiating a price. Many people don’t even think negotiating on a car is an option, but it is, and there’s often quite a bit of wiggle room. Even if the rate they’re telling you for the car is discounted or on sale, don’t assume there is no more room to adjust that number even more.
Before negotiating, do your research on how much that vehicle is selling for elsewhere. Be prepared to show the same vehicle with similar features and mileage at prices listed lower than what they’re offering and if they aren’t willing to meet at that price, respectfully leave the dealership. If you leave the dealership one of two things can happen. Either you’ll get a call back from the salesperson in the following days willing to meet you at that price, or you can go to the dealership that is listing the vehicle at the market price and buy it there. Either way for you it’s a win-win.
Feeling More Comfortable Buying a Car?
We hope that this guide will help Canadian women feel more comfortable going into car dealerships in 2021. Car Loans Canada is here to help the car buying process easier and we offer free useful tools like a car loan calculator, where you can see your estimated costs of financing a vehicle. If you’re looking to get pre-approved for a car loan, apply today!