BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

On My Mind This Morning: I Need a Man with Me to Buy a New Car

Posted by businesswom on February 5, 2010

Suze has told me how to be Young, Fabulous, and Broke.  And now, she’s talking Women & Money to let me know how to control my own destiny.  In light of all this knowledge from Suze in her fabulous books, and the great strides that women have made in terms of financial empowerment and equal rights, I have this pressing question to ask:

Why do I need a man with me to go buy a new car???

My car was totaled in the past month – I’m ok, thanks – and the insurance companies have finally settled on my payment.  I am now ready to buy a new car that meshes with my fabulously broke, fiscally conscious lifestyle.  It’s a recession.  Considering all the fancy negotiations that take place on the lots of car dealerships, I am currently considering the following purchasing partners: my male friend who is a psychologist, my male lawyer friend, or my male friend who has a PhD in street hustling.  Someone needs to come with me to make sure I get the best deal for my money.  They couldn’t possibly take a 5’5″ young woman seriously, could they?  I have a female psychologist, lawyer, and (legally) hustling friend, but I just don’t think these women will get the job done.  They’re the same height as me, and they’re girls too.

I have decided there could be several reasons I feel like I still need a man with me at the car dealership in 2010:

  1. Women may feel empowered, but society has not given us the full equality we deserve to obtain fair treatment in financial, workplace, and other critical negotiations.
  2. I am intimidated by the car buying process and am trying to make this a “gender” issue, when it’s really a “me” issue.
  3. Car salespersons, in general, are dishonest and may take advantage of me.  I am trying to avoid this at all costs and feel like a big scary man might do the trick.

Whatever the reason may be – and let me stop and say that I heart car salespersons – I feel like I am not the only single, young woman who faces this dilemma. Are these fears legitimate?  Or, as a financially savvy, empowered young woman, can I go buy this car on my own and get a fair price?

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6 Responses to “On My Mind This Morning: I Need a Man with Me to Buy a New Car”

  1. espressodog said

    I hate car buying and was seceretly glad that my dad went with me the last time. I don’t think it is a gender thing. I just don’t care about cars. And the market bombards us with options and gizmos that I don’t really care about. I just want something to take me from here to there. If I could buy a generic “car” I would be perfectly happy.

    Even though women make a majority of the purchasing decisions these days, it seems like the advertising for cars (and TVs and cell phones) is targeted at men. There seems to be a wierd focus on numbers and size over functionality.

    Don’t get me started on my fear of Best Buy!

  2. nduff said

    My husband and I just went and bought our first “family” vehicle (that he drives of course) a couple months ago. I was surprised with how we were each treated by a few dealers. I am the money decision maker in our household and without a doubt I hold the pocketbook. I’m also 1000% more shrewd than he is when it comes to dealing with finances. Unfortunately 1/2 of the dealers we talked to didn’t expect this and it actually took me saying “we’re going to be moving on to another dealership since it appears that you only want to do business with my husband and I only work with those who want to do business with me” to get one salesperson’s attention. Another dealer after hearing that my husband was looking at a white car (which I hate) and I was looking at red (which he hates) made a comment to him, “well, you’re the one who wears the pants, right” which my response was “actually, it seems that I have a pair on too, and since I’m paying for 1/2 this car I get 1/2 a say in the color.” We ended up getting a black car which I negotiated a $40 a month decrease on the lease amount while my husband would have settled for their first offer.

  3. Meaghan said

    I went through these same trials and tribulations three years ago when I bought my first new car! In the end, I went by myself, but I went to one of those no-haggle dealerships. Also, in the end, I think I got ripped off, but in the aftermarket stuff they sold me rather than on the sticker price of the car itself.

    I think that part of this is a “me” thing — judging by your post you don’t seem to feel you have the negotiating skills necessary to get your best price. I didn’t either, but I’ve known plenty of women who are excellent, take-no-prisoners negotiators. So there are probably women out there who absolutely can walk into a dealership and get a fair price.

    That said, you’re also right to call this out as a gender thing. Women are not taught to negotiate; instead, we’re taught to go with the flow and not make trouble. These are the lessons that get us taken advantage of at car dealerships. And because little boys are taught to stand up for themselves, they tend to be better at this negotiating thing later on. So it makes total sense that you’d want to bring the best negotiator you can.

    In the end, I’d say that you shouldn’t feel any less empowered if you take a male friend to help you out. That’s not giving in to sexism; it’s understanding the situation and taking steps to ensure the best outcome for yourself.

    Good luck!

  4. Emily said

    A lot of dealerships now have “internet sales” departments. I was able to ask and have most of my questions answered via e-mail and phone before having to set foot on the dealer’s lot. It was nice because it allowed me to research all the information that was given to me, add up the costs, and avoid what can be intimidating sales pressure.
    There are also some car companies that now offer “pure” pricing. That means that they charge the same price for the car and any upgrades regardless of what dealer you go to. As a result there is no need to haggle.
    All that being said, I did take a guy friend with me when I bought the car. It was helpful to have his perspective because while I was actually test driving there were certain things he thought to ask about that I never would have inquired about on my own.

  5. Alissa said

    I really don’t have a fear of the car dealers. I do a lot of wheeling and dealing myself. I do all the research and am not afraid of asking for a deal. Of course, I don’t go all out bitchmode, because society has a thing about that too – I go sweet with a smile and play the sexy, smart and sweet girl that gets what she wants because if she doesn’t, they’ll lose me as a customer.

    Actually, I think it’s really sad that more women don’t understand “cars”. You’re driving a practically one ton vehicle that can save your life or end it very quickly – you best know a thing or about how a car works, how to change a flat and other car functions. Actually, it pisses me off that girls don’t know more because this knowledge can SAVE YOUR LIFE. I could really go on forever…It’s sore subject with me.

    But, yeah, I think it comes down to a lack of knowledge and research. If you do that, you’ll feel more comfortable. These guys want to make a sale, and if you know how much this car costs and know what kind of money you’re gonna have to put into it (ie tires, brakes etc which, mind you, girls should know how to check these things – I’m not saying crawling under the hood, but how to listen to the air conditioner, look for oil leaks. It’s not hard to do these things – and it’ll give you some leverage to make an offer based on these facts and other cars you’ve seen. Plus, knowing how to check car functions will make your car SAFER to you, your family, and everyone else on the road.

  6. espressodog said

    I have to jump back in and say I do know about cars, I just don’t care. I can change a tire, change my oil and do other basic maintainence. I actually took a auto repair class in high school. But that is not what they talk to you about at a car dealership. It is all engine size, zero to sixty and MPG. Which is all useful information but makes not one bit of difference to me.

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