Gearing up for used car shopping tips for women

Gearing Up for Used Car Shopping — Tips for Women

“No worries darlin’, you can take her for a spin, just don’t get lost!

I minced a smile while my eyes sneered at Kevin, the used car salesman, tossing me the keys while leaning back on the Toyota Corolla. While chewing gum, he ran his hands through his beach-bum blonde hair. When I grated into first gear, he snickered with his salesman mate as I took the car for a test drive, all the while thinking ‘I just want to get this over with.’

I’m not sure what it’s like for men to buy a used car from a dealership, but as a woman, it’s got to be up there with having root canal therapy at the dentist. We know we have to do it, but there’s no-one else who can take your place in the dentist’s chair. Maybe some women don’t mind buying a car—it is shopping after all. But as a person who adds the suffix ‘thingee’ to anything in the motor—well—when the head-gasket thingee went kaput on the way to the dentist, I had to face both my fears

Used car shopping should be like shopping for fashion—I know my size (hatchback), budget (Sportsgirl, not Morrissey), and style (no frou frou mag wheels/sequins). The difference is not so much the act of shopping, but the salesperson. Just as snobby sneery rude salespeople put me off from buying a dress, the behaviour of a stereotypical used car salesman irks me just as much

A better experience would involve:

  • Honesty: Really? The previous owner was the wife of a Toyota dealer? Phhhhttt. At least he didn’t say she was a little old lady.
  • Explain things in plain English. I don’t give a toss about Magnetic pick-up assembly and doughnut coupling. I want a car that won’t cause me stress, not one to cruise the streets for hot chickybabes.
  • Don’t pressure: it’s not like there’s a shortage of cars in the current economic climate. I can pick and choose.
  • Don’t be patronising. I may look 17 but I ceased being a girl long ago; not a pumpkin not a darling and I am NOT ‘m’love’. And do you think I’d be impressed with a statement like ‘Just think of all the shopping you can fit in that boot’ and that I don’t need to get the mirror fixed because I look beautiful all the time. If things got any oilier I’d assume the oil thingee was broken.
  • Don’t hit on me. Really? I have to come back again because the windscreen needs to come from Wagga? Oh, and then come back to pick up the form you forgot to give me, oh and to check the fuse…sure…


Luckily there are ways to make the experience less painful.

  • Go in there knowing exactly what you want. Mention the basics: age, auto or manual, kms, body type, fuel efficiency etc. Then mention your budget at least a thousand less than the reality.
  • Don’t let on you’re in a hurry or that you’re not feeling well (or at least wait until your face returns to symmetry after anesthetic from a root canal session…). Weakness is an opportunity to exploit: they’ll try and fluster you.
  • Be honest about your car if you are trading it in. Mention all the things wrong with all the thingees. That way they can’t come back at you after negotiating the price and say ‘well, you didn’t tell us that…’
  • Go straight for a more expensive car, seem interested and then look at the one you really want (like a VW Golf). Say, ‘ooh I love Vee-Dubs!’. The dealer will mention all that is wrong with it to convince you to get the more expensive one.
  • If something needs fixing, eg new tyres, windscreen; try to get that thrown in without cost.
  • The alleged ‘drive away’ advertisement is bollocks. There’s paperwork, the car has to go through roadworthy, they have to wait for your funds to be approved. Leave at least two days until you really can have the car.
  • Don’t believe anything they say. Do your own research. Take a person with you who has a clue about cars and their value.

As I finally left the dealership three days later with all the forms, fuses and windscreen, I waved goodbye to Kevin and smiled as I thought about what I’d learned. Knowing how to deal with dealers is fine, just like how having anaesthetic for root canal makes life that little bit easier for next time.
PS. Maybe Kevin was genuine after all. The fuses are working wonderfully!

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