Women and Cars (Part Three)

85% of car purchasing decisions are made by women, but research shows that they're still apprehensive when it comes to the buying process. Here are a couple of tips to help you keep your wits about you.
Jason Snyman
2018-09-26

Women have a storied history when it comes to cars. Over the years, remarkable women such as Bertha Benz, Mary Anderson, Florence Lawrence and Suzanne Vanderbilt have made invaluable contributions to the automobile industry. Without them, the modern car as we know it simply wouldn’t exist.

We still don’t hear enough about the women who continue to do crucial work in the industry and drive the market forward in unpredictable ways. For instance, women are one of the fastest growing groups of car consumers in the world.

It’s no longer a man’s world.

Because 85% of car purchasing decisions are influenced by women, and because women prioritize certain factors, it’s changed the way manufacturers have approached their newer models. This is most evident in the upsurge of quality SUV production and sales. SUVs that rank higher in value, practicality and safety features are often preferred to luxury.

According to a recent study by CDK Global, unfortunately, it seems that though women are behind most car buying decisions, most are still quite apprehensive about the process. The study shows that women have used words like ‘stressed’, ‘overwhelmed’, ‘panic’ and ‘taken advantage of’ when recounting their experience with dealerships.

It’s easy to believe that women have felt patronised in these environments. Why, it was only last year that we finally saw Saudi Arabia lift the ban on female drivers.

When it comes to buying a car, confidence plays a big role, and the only way to become confident in anything is to know a lot about it. So, in order to help women achieve Charlize Theron and Michelle Rodriguez levels of expertise, we put together a couple of tips to keep in mind when buying, driving and maintaining your car.  

Research Is Everything

Bear in mind that most people just don’t know what to look for when buying a car – men and women. The unfortunate truth of the matter in this regard is that women are generally seen as easy targets and will face many more challenges.

Women don’t necessarily need to buy their own car parts and do all their own services in order to know all about cars – but it does help. This is something that many people have learnt over time – there are mechanics out there who can smell inexperience a mile away, and they’ll take full advantage of it.

So, it certainly doesn’t hurt to know your way around an engine – even if it’s just the basics. This will allow you to call a dodgy mechanic or car dealer out on any shenanigans, if need be.
 

When it comes to buying a car, you couldn’t possibly do enough research. You may find that a car might look sporty and powerful but doesn’t even have the power to conquer a modest hill. Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a specific car for a while and you’ve heard great things, only to find out that one or two models just don’t measure up to the others.

Maybe, again, somebody could try to overcharge you.

You need to do your homework, and whatever car you choose has to tick all the boxes. Do not compromise.

You need to know the true value of the vehicle, the availability and cost of spare parts, the price of insurance and the support for repairs. Read up on positive and negative reviews and pay special attention to safety rankings.

Most importantly (even if you know what you’re looking at) – insist on a full mechanical inspection before buying any car.
 

Don’t Be Bullied

There are many obvious differences between buying a brand new car and a used car. Chief among these is knowing what you’re getting. Used cars require a lot more research, knowledge and negotiation know-how.

Salesmen can be pushy, but if they become too forceful or disrespectful, simply don’t do business with them. It’s important to remember that they need you – the customer – and you don’t need them. There are plenty of car dealerships out there.

It helps to walk into a potential purchase armed with as much information on the cars you’re interested in as possible. Test drive all of them and take your time. You want to be 100% certain that the car you’re buying is one that you’ll be happy with for years to come.

You’re looking for something that fits your budget and needs. Prioritize what you want in a car, in order. This could be impressive safety features, a lot of storage space, stylish designs, fuel efficiency, reliability, durability, power or anything else.

Again, do not compromise, and don’t buy any vehicle that you haven’t researched.

Once you’ve found the right car, don’t rush into any paperwork either. There are tons of pitfalls to be aware of – such as balloon payments – and you don’t want to be signing anything you don’t fully understand.

Insist on clarification if you’re unsure and make sure that you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for.
 

Choose The Right Method

There are many ways to go about buying a new car. One of these, which is becoming increasingly popular with women all over the world, is the online route. Again, research is key.

Then, of course, you get the trade in. We all know that you’re going to get a lot less than you bargained for when trading your old car in. Dealers will offer you next to nothing for it and then swing it for a huge profit when somebody else buys it. If you know the true value of your car, it’s far better to consider selling it privately.

Of course, with the latter comes a lot of paperwork and a number of safety issues. If that’s too much of a headache for you, or if you’re set on trading it in, there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Go in already prepared to walk away from the deal;
  • Negotiate for the best possible price. Knowledge of resale value is power;
  • Beware the whole ‘pay the difference’ gimmick. Bear in mind that when trading your car in for another one, you’re essentially engaging in two isolated transactions. Number one – you’re selling your car to the dealer. Number two – the dealer is selling a car to you. Often, you’ll get a dealer trying his luck and trying to get you to focus on the ‘difference’ you need to pay – meaning the price of their vehicle minus the amount they’re offering for yours. No. One transaction at a time – and you negotiate the prices separately, for the best possible deal;

While not all dealers are unscrupulous, it’s important to remember that they’re running a business and they want your money. All of your money.

Remember that you’re in charge, and don’t be afraid to just walk away.