What You Need To Know About Car Shopping While Female


Women Buy More Cars and Influence More Car Buying Decisions

Women are more likely than men to have a bad experience at the dealership, even though we influence the majority of car buying decisions.

The first time I went to a dealership, I did my research: I knew which models I wanted to test drive, and I could recite all the important specs – horsepower, MPG – for each one. I figured dealers would be happy to chat with me about different options, and I’d be on the road fast.


I was wrong. The first dealer I met was totally condescending, “man-splaining” the basics to me (I know the difference between automatic and manual transmission, thankyouverymuch). My experience at the next dealership wasn’t much better – that salesman apparently had better ways to spend his time than helping me buy a car. I had to approach him to ask questions, and he barely listened when I talked. Thankfully, the third dealer was attentive and respectful, and he earned my business. In fact, I returned to the same dealership when I was ready to upgrade, and I’ve been loyal to that brand ever since.

Because I’m a woman, I felt like the dealer thought I was a target, like ‘we can take advantage of her.

Based on our research at Outside Financial, my experience wasn’t unique. Other women we’ve spoken with have also felt disrespected at the dealership. Dominique told us, “I handle all the finances for my family, but the one thing I won’t do is walk into a car dealership. They know how to make me feel uncomfortable so I’ll sign anything just to get out of there. I make my husband buy the car.” Kim put it more directly: “Because I’m a woman, I felt like the dealer thought I was a target, like ‘we can take advantage of her.'” In our survey of 600 car buyers, women were 25% more likely than men to report having a bad buying experience. And the problem isn’t just perception. A study by one of my law school professors found that dealers quoted significantly lower prices to white men than to black or female test buyers.

Since women make up the majority of car buyers, why isn’t car buying more female-friendly?

Women make up more than 50% of car buyers, and we influence 85% of all car purchases. So why do so many of us feel disadvantaged? I can think of a few reasons. One is that there aren’t enough women working in dealerships. Less than one in five dealership employees are women, and most are in support roles, not sales. Outdated attitudes about women’s roles don’t help, either. We’ve heard from too many female shoppers that dealers ask when their husbands are coming in.

What can you do about it?

Prepare yourself before you go into the dealership. The Outside Financial website is full of tips and tools to help you take control. That’s the only way to ensure you get the best deal on your car and your financing, regardless of your gender.

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