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How Women Can Win When Buying Cars

Turn the tables with these tactics when dealing with car dealers

By Audrey Davis
March 03 2022
Car line-up waiting to be bought. (Autocar) 

How many times has this happened to you: You visit a dealership to check out a prospective new ride, only to find yourself met with a poisonous combination of condescension and indifference?  

You then visit the same dealership with friend, family member, or significant other (even one who knows next to nothing about cars) who happens to be male, and your experience seems to improve significantly.  

Of course, this double standard is unfair. Fortunately, women’s buying power is growing as the industry changes. In recent years, the rise of websites like Carvana has threatened to make the traditional dealership obsolete, and Tesla’s decision to completely forgo the dealership model has been massively successful for the EV maker.  

These changes limit the role of sales representatives, who often have implicit biases that color their interactions with customers. However, these new options are also pretty impersonal, especially for gearheads who like to get a feel for a new car before purchasing.  

If you’re a woman driver willing to brave the dealership, here’s what you need to know.  

Be prepared and do the research before hitting the dealerships. (Forbes) 

First, it’s helpful to prescreen a dealership’s sales team at. As of 2017, only 19 percent of U.S. dealership employees were women, who as a group showed a high turnover rate, with employers showing little evidence of efforts to close the gender gap.  

When dealerships do actively seek out women in car sales, it’s often motivated by tokenism or the desire to have a sales rep who is specifically assigned to female customers. Always be skeptical of dealerships where the one woman on staff seems to only be talking to women.  

Next, it’s important to come prepared with specs and a price estimate on the vehicle you’re hoping to buy. Knowledge is power, and Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book both provide quick, reliable appraisals, so there is no excuse to fall for a jacked-up price. But these days, many incidents of price gouging have more to do with the automotive supply chain crisis than sexism.  

What you really need to watch out for is dealerships that don’t give female customers equal attention, even though women now purchase 62 percent of all new cars bought in the U.S. And yet, 15 percent of women also report being actively ignored by automotive salespeople, and some dealerships are less likely to offer test drives to female customers.  

Women are essential to the industry because of their buying power. (Orlando Sentinel) 

Given the number of women buying cars and the power that number creates, no woman should ever accept that her demands at a dealership are unreasonable or impossible to fulfill. No test drives available that day? Request an appointment. No models on the lot that fit your specifications? Ask when they can ship one in. Most men have no trouble asking for what they want, and it’s time that women who love cars did the same.  



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