A Guide for Women on Saving Money While Buying a Car

By Nik Donovic

More than half of all vehicle purchases in the United States are made by women, and a whopping 95% of them list safety as their most important consideration when buying a car. Women seem to understand that safety features not only help drivers avoid car accidents, but they also help minimize injury should there be a collision. Long gone are the days of the powerless, clueless image of female auto buyers.

Women know what they want and need, and more and more of them are figuring out just how to get it. But, just how do they get the best deals in the traditionally male-dominated auto industry? Here are a few tips from the pros.

Do Your Research

The internet can be a consumer’s best friend, especially when it comes to big ticket purchases. You may have your eye on a certain make and model, but during your online research you might find that the car isn’t nearly as safe as you’d hoped. Use vehicle comparison sites to scrutinize the cost and features of each model you’re considering, and bookmark the web pages so you can transfer the information to a spreadsheet.

More than features and sticker price, though, you’ll want to look for incentives and rebates, special offers, and financing (get it before you step onto the lot and then use it to negotiate a lower rate through the dealership). You might find that the car you thought was out of reach is now attainable because you discovered there’s a rebate available.

Once you’ve narrowed down the list of vehicles you’re interested in purchasing, transfer the details to a spreadsheet so you can compare all of the cars that you bookmarked from the various websites. Include the details that are important to you, such as price, safety features, and fuel efficiency.

Haggle Online

After you’ve done your online research and narrowed down the type of vehicle you’re most interested in purchasing, find the car at several local dealerships. Next, e-mail the Internet Sales Manager at each location, asking for their very best no hassle quote. You may be surprised to find that the quotes you receive can vary by several thousand dollars. Once you determine the lowest offer, e-mail the other dealers to see if they can beat it.

Next, schedule appointments to visit the dealerships that quoted the lowest prices. Prior to each appointment, review your spreadsheet and search the online inventory of each dealership to see if they have other vehicles on their lots that match those on your spreadsheet. Most dealerships only list a small sample of their inventory online, so write down the stock numbers of those cars that you’re interested in seeing so the salesman will know what type of vehicles to show you. That way, when you arrive for your appointment you’ll be able to see multiple cars. You will also be presenting yourself as an informed consumer who has done her research and knows what she’s talking about.

Print out the offers and a copy of your spreadsheet, and take them with you. Do not feel pressured to purchase the vehicle for which you’ve received the quote. As your spreadsheet will show, you’ve researched more than one make and model. So, if you test drive the car and it just isn’t a good fit, ask the salesman to show you the other vehicles you’ve researched. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like the salesman is taking you seriously or giving you his or her full attention, simply walk away.

Wait for It

It’s alright if you’re not interested in haggling on the price, because the saying ‘good things come to those who wait’ rings true when it comes to purchasing a vehicle, too. If you know the car you want and how much you’re willing to spend on it, wait until the last day of the month to make your purchase. Car dealerships live by the almighty quota, so you’re much more likely to get a better deal by timing your purchase for the end of the month. The sales staff will be eager to close sales (often scoring themselves a bonus) in order to meet their month end goals, and if the dealership itself hasn’t met its monthly minimum, the management will be more than willing to sign off on deals they wouldn’t even consider early in the month.

Better yet, do a combination of the two. Get the best guaranteed price online from local dealerships and head to their lots on the last day of the month. You could end up driving off in a new car having paid even less than the price that was quoted to you via e-mail.

The best way to save money on the purchase of a vehicle is through research, timing and negotiation. It is the one method that works best, whether you live in Idaho, Indiana, or Illinois. Women don’t want to waste their time dealing with a Boise, Fort Wayne, or Chicago car accident lawyer simply because they couldn’t get into a safe vehicle for the right price. So, they use the method and end up in safer cars for a lot less money.