Going to a car dealership has always been terrifying for me. I feel like a deer in the headlights, and I feel like everyone working there knows I feel that way. “Fresh meat” is something I can almost hear them saying, like sharks circling their prey. It also doesn’t help that sometimes I just get the guys working at car dealerships creepily checking me out, which I certainly shouldn’t have to face at any establishment where I’m about to hand over a bunch of money. Though blanket statements aren’t always great, for the sake of this article, we can probably all agree that men generally think that women aren’t great at negotiating or asserting themselves, and that male car salesmen feel that way about women, tenfold. But you don’t have to be walked all over at a car dealership. Here are tips for going as a woman.
Research the cars in advance
You’re helpless if you haven’t researched the cars in advance. Figure out the cars you’re interested in. Then figure out which ones are actually in your price range. The ones that aren’t—forget about those. Narrow in on a few, and learn everything you can about them, like how good of mileage they get, typical problems they run into, common things they go to the auto body shop for, typical resale value, and more. Know your facts, so a salesperson doesn’t try to spin false facts at you.
Know your finances
Really look at the numbers on your own before going in. What can you afford to put down? What can you afford monthly? Remember that the type of car you buy may affect the rate of your car insurance and how much gas costs. If you seem at all unsure about these numbers, a salesperson may try to pounce on your uncertainty and push you into something you can’t afford.
Compare prices online
Compare prices online before going in. Don’t be blind to what dealers are offering on the cars you’re looking at. This is important so you don’t get scammed into spending too much, so you sound like you know what you’re talking about, and so you don’t accidentally walk out on a deal that was actually the best one you’d find.
Dress just right
Be very conscientious in your outfit choice. Don’t go in in sweatpants and old sneakers. Unfortunately, if you look like you can’t afford anything, nobody will help you. That being said, this is not the day to wear your Gucci or Ferragamo. Wear something you’d wear to a job interview. Look put together, professional, but still tasteful and stylish.
Look at women-drivers.com
Here you can find real reviews by women on car dealerships. They’ll tell you how they were treated, what sorts of deals they got, and in general whether or not they felt respected there. Avoid the ones with the horror stories.
Bring another set of eyes
Bring a friend or a sibling. They will pick up on things that you may not see, and their opinion is objective. They haven’t fallen in love with a car like you have nor are they in a hurry to buy something.
Never show too much excitement
Contain your excitement. Even if you’re pretty much certain you’re going to buy a car, never let the salesperson know that. You can make positive remarks about a car, but keep them measured.
Bring up possible concerns
Bring up every possible concern that you can think of. Remember, you want the salesperson to feel he needs to sell you on this—as in, you have reasons to walk away and he better combat them. That will help get you a better price.
Never buy day of
Do not buy a car the day you go into the dealer. Never, ever do that. In most cases, after you leave without a car, the dealer will start reaching out to you offering you a better deal than he was giving you on the lot. He doesn’t want to lose the deal. Suddenly, low figures that nobody was throwing around on the lot are an option.
Compare to other dealers, right there
Don’t be afraid to pull up your smart phone and show the salesperson there and then that another car dealership will beat their offer. It can feel rude, but people do it all of the time.
Shop at the end of the month or year
Since car salespeople tend to need to meet a quota, they can get stressed at the end of the month, quarter, or year if they haven’t met it. They’re more eager to make a sale, so they will likely give you a better deal. There are more specifics as to how to look at cars at the end of the year here.
Shop at the end of the day
Even as you shop at the end of the month, also shop at the end of the day. At this point, the sales force is really thinking they’re at the end of the line and need to close a deal.
Never let them rush you
Never let anyone try to tell you that you have to sign a contract today or else the car will be gone or the price may go up. If a dealer tries to rush you at all, just leave.
Never let them intimidate you
Also, don’t let a salesperson intimidate you. You may find one who just talks over you, speaks down to you, acts as if your questions are silly, and generally doesn’t deal with you with respect. You can tell him he needs to adjust his tone or you won’t be working with him. You can also just ask for the manager for a different salesperson.
Remember that banks can finance this
You don’t have to do your financing through the car dealership. Remember that you can go to a bank for an auto loan. They may be able to give you a better offer. If you walk into the car dealership with your pre-approved loan from a bank, that makes things easier.