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Car Buying for Women

SylviaSylvia Posts: 1,636
What are the issues - if any - that women face when buying a car?

We encourage women to share their thoughts and experiences here.
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Comments

  • In my experience, the first time I bought a car which was at least 15 years ago, the salesman played up how pretty the car was (I bought a camaro) and safety features. Never discussed HP, torque, performance excetra. Most of the features pointed out to me were of a cosmetic nature. Actually resorted to flirting with me as a way (he thought) to sell the car. I was young paid more than I should have because I was not really familiar with the car buying experience. But I wanted a Black RS w/ T tops and they just so happened to have one that was 1 year old and had about 7500 miles on it.
    During the next 15 years I went up the ranks in the construction company I work for and became responsible for purchasing the vehicles for the fleet. Now most of the work I do is try & neg. a good price on the trucks we buy. Time & time again I get a salesman that trys to point out the cosmetic features or onstar or xmradio as the features I would be most comfortable talking about. I want to talk Duramax Diesel, 4WD, GVW and they seem to be stunned that a woman is handling the fleet purchases. I actually had one manager say that most men buying these trucks are not as knowledgeable about them as I seem to be (so there is that flattery aspect again). And (no offense guys,) The best price I have gotten on a Chevy 3500 Diesel was from a woman salesperson.
    Now with my last vehicle purchase made about a month ago, I got a great price on an 04 monte carlo ss demo, walked out of the finance office when they would not meet my terms ,only to get 4% and 72 months the next day and a cash rebate totalling 5,000.00 (3,500 from gm & 1500 in coupons) Only problem I had was my salesmen told me the warranty was 36/36 but I lose 5,000 miles cause thats what the demo had on it. Turned out the car was in service as a demo in january (10 months b 4 I bought it) so I lost 5,000 miles & 10 months of the warranty. The salesman is trying to get them to give me back at least the months which should require them buying me an extended warranty for 12 months I dont think a 10 month warranty exists.
    My 2 personal car buying experiences and the 6 vehicles I bought on a corp. basis have been with salesmen who seem to try & play up the frills instead of the substance of the vehicle. Once a salesman gets to know me (next time I call with a need for th ecompany, they speak to me like I'm one of their equals and dont "pretty it up" for me.
    Hope this helps
    If you have any questions about my experience, Im happy to answer any questions.
  • Tangofan -- That was really interesting. There's a lot of sexism in the car-buying process, and I'm glad to see that you were willing to walk out when they couldn't meet your terms. If more women did that, we'd get better deals. I don't like the fact that the salesman didn't give you the right information about the shorter warranty period. What happened in the end?

    I'm an editor here at Edmunds. In a few weeks we'll be launching a Web page devoted to topics of interest to women. Please check back with us and also keep us informed of developments as you continue to buy for your company as well as yourself.
  • researchqueen - I am still working with my salesman on the warranty issue. He fully admits that he told me I get 36 months and 31,000 miles. He was led to believe that and passed that info onto me. I spoke with him today and I have requested a copy of the maintenance records from the last 2 oil changes. They told me one was done when the demo was put on the lot for sale at the 5,000 mile point. I assume one was done at 3k as well. My salesman states the service dept shows the vin on my car comes up as clean (no service) but also stated they do not keep paper on something as simple as an oil change. I think thats hog &*$% and posted a question on the warranty board if that was normal practice. I have requested in writing when & at what mileage the oil changes have been done. Since they were off base on the 36/36 I am not taking their word for anything on this car. The 48/48 extended warranty I requested have gone to the salesman, his boss, his boss's boss and finally the GM. In clean language is they are basically telling me to go chase myself. But my salesman is still trying to get me what I want. the car's invoice is about 26,000 I got it for 24,000 less a 3,500 rebate so I believe they are not looking to spend any money on me at all. All I am asking for now is the oil change & any other maintenance records. Right know thats my main concern as I don't believe they will be giving me an extended warranty .
    thats pretty much where I am on the warranty info on my Monte Carlo. I have gotten some great prices on a GMPP extended warranty using info I obtained thru Edmunds . My best bet with the extended purchase will be to wait about 19 months when I estimate I will have about 23,900 on my car. I can then buy the 60/60 extended from Blacks Pontiac at about 1600.00 -1700.00. This will give me a total of 83,900 on the miles and take me to June 2010. my car will be paid for by then , long before I hope as I plan on making principle only payments on the car quarterly so I'm not paying for the full 72 months. And I also will not be upside down on the car for long. I owe 17K now and its worth a bit less right now.
  • Tangofan --

     

    Sounds like a plan. I think it's great that you're not letting them take advantage of you. I can't stand it when salesmen promise something and then can't deliver. It happened to me at the bank recently (and they wasted a LOT of my time). They've lost my business for good. Keep in touch!
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    In any confrontation, if you cause them more pain then they cause you, then you have won.
  • jen1jen1 Posts: 4
    I am researching my next vehicle (starting early because it's fun!), but as a mother of two children I am somewhat frustrated at the lack of information about vehicles beyond the minivan that work well for families.

    I currently have a minivan that I enjoy and that is serving us well, but for a variety of good reasons, I do not want a minivan next time around. I am finding most car reviews on Edmunds discuss specs, road handling, and of course, horsepower, in great detail. All that is important to me, but I would love to see some reviews where cars/wagons/compact SUVs were "family tested."

    Not every family out here wants a minivan or a hulking full-sized SUV. I know I would benefit from information like rear seat space comfort for young children v. teens/adults, long-distance travel with children and related luggage, etc.

    Is this information you might incorporate into your website reviews? It would be much appreciated by many.

    Thanks.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... I agree with you ...

     

                Most discussions are about how the 300hp ABC is not as good as the 340hp XYZ, or they feel the seats just don't have that "look" from all the pictures in the Car mags ...

     

                        The funny part is, most can't even drive or handle the 200hp vehicle they have now .. then they discuss on how bad (or good) a certain SUV drives when they ran it around a test track, or read it somewhere .. hmmm I never seen a test track at the malls or school zones, so I guess that 0 to 60 makes a big difference when it's 1.1 seconds faster ..

     

                      Specs are fine, but 18 cubic feet of trunk space means nothing to someone who carries stuff on a day by day basis versus the consumer who takes that 5 day vacation every year and never pops that trunk again for another year ... legroom.? .. thats great, but if your 6 feet tall with an inseam of 34inches and the next guy is 6 feet with a 32 inseam, then they are both going to be lookin' for a different vehicle, no matter where the discussion goes ... now, take the Mrs who needs to be in and out everyday, she's 5.5" and the whole scenario changes by leaps and bounds .... considering the ladies have 60%+ of the decision making process, you would think there would be a whole lot more real world discussions ......... :) ..... it must be a testosterone thing ...

     

                      That said, the best thing you can do for you and the family is to get your top 5 vehicles set up, then make an appointment to see 1 or 2 dealers on the same day, this way you can get the feel, touch and smell of them .. then take them out on a 30/60/90 minute ride (without the salesman) down your streets, your hills, your driveways and see what *you* think ..... remember, unless someone is making your payments and/or driving your vehicle everyday, then the only opinion that counts: is yours ...

     

                Always buy and drive what "you" like - the guy that writes the articles gets paid for it, it's his job, there's not much difference between those and the Boat magazines, ever see a Searay boat that "wasn't" great.? .. but lotsa people have, but they don't get any print .. hmm, I wonder why that is ..l.o.l....

     

                               Terry.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I agree with Terry but I want to add a couple of points.

     

    First, I always recommend that you try to rent the vehicle that you are interested for a day or two and drive it in all the conditions that you generally drive in. For me. there are many cars that felt OK for a short time but after an hour, I was in pain.

     

    Second, I don't care about all that car magazine drivel and all those specifics. How does the car fit **MY** body? I have been in some subcompacts that were very comfortable in legroom. Last year, I was in a full sized Infiniti that I felt cramped in. And DITTO for the back seats.

     

    In other words, to be happy, YOU have to do your homework. Noone on this board will be able to tell you how a particular model will be for you.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    SURE you have your baby strollers, diaper bags, sports gear bags, etc with you to make sure they fit without issue. Some vehicles may have cool storage areas or compartments and may work much better than another vehicle.

     

    My boys are 17 and 19, so it's not a concern, but if we turned back the clock to 1988-1992 when my guys were little, I was in the Air Force on a very limited budget, and we traveled to visit family, I'd be looking strongly at a Scion xA or xB, Mazda Protege 5, Pontiac Vibe or similar vehicle. First, I don't do minivans, just a thing with me. A sporty, yet very usable vehicle like these would work great for a family with small kids.
  • jen1jen1 Posts: 4
    I appreciated getting other opinions about my "non-minivan" frustrations for a family vehicle. I definitely am looking for a fun and smaller vehicle that still will comfortably carry two youngsters and, on family trips, my husband. I am just out of the diaper/stroller phase, so my daily baggage has shrunk to nothing (yeah!). I am eyeing either the Volvo V50 or the BMW X3, but I do like the approach someone mentioned of taking longer drives in whatever I test to make sure it's right for me. We shall see. Thanks again.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,441
    You do sound like you are into the wagon/cross-over mode. Consumers Reports probably comes closest to your testing needs, along with long-term reviews (such as Edmunds does).

     

    Just be careful, once you are used to a minivan's cargo carrying capabilities, it can be hard to go smaller! A V50 is a very nice car, but not particularly large in the back, and even non-diaper kids can generate a lot of stuff, plus they have an annoying tendancy to grow!

     

    One nice thing about town hall is people aren't shy about sharing their opininions (myself included obviously). So, if you can sketch out your requirements/desired price range/etc., you can get a lot of experienced knowledge shared with you.

     

    Off the cuff, based on what you are looking at, consider a Sube Legacy too.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • jen1jen1 Posts: 4
    All right - here goes! I currently have an MPV, so as you can tell I am not a large-size car person, even when I have a minivan. One of my size requirements is that I want to be able to park whatever vehicle I purchase in my garage, so it cannot be much bigger than my MPV (189" x 72"). Of course, the cars I am looking at do not have side sliding doors so even a bit smaller is better, but not necessary. An Acura MDX will not fit, for example.

     

    I do not want a third row seat, because quite frankly, the ones I've seen (2004 winter car show) don't seem worth it. Any contrary opinions on this would be good to hear, though.

      

    Here's the rest of my wish list at this point - remember, I am plotting and planning early so I have plenty of time to revise:

     

    - no nav or entertainment systems (can give you my opinion of those if interested)

    - leather seats, heated

    - automatic

    - cargo space for groceries and sundries (I'm thinking I could get a Yakima-like carrier for vacations if storage space is an issue - thoughts anyone?)

    - comfortable leg space for 2 children (6 and 3), including one booster seat (input on growing room, please)

    - safe

    - reliable (I've usually owned only Japanese cars, except for my Ford-engine MPV, so I am a bit wary of my two choice vehicles)

    - fun for a stay-home mom to drive since I would be in it daily (this includes looks, power and handling)

    - satallite radio

      

    Feedback, comments? I want constructive info so give it to me straight!

     

    FYI - The Legacy looks a little too boxy for me. I looked strongly at the Outback but I am just not sure.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    Lexus RS330?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,873
    We've got a Pacific (3 teenage kids), and even though they're rarely in the car together, the third row is nice to have. Plus, they fold down very easily, giving plenty of cargo room.

     

    I wouldn't get excited about driving the Pacifica, for sure, BUT, it does have leather, heated seats in the first AND second row. And there's plenty of legroom for the teens.

     

    I'm not necessarily urging you to buy a Pacifica, but just to have a look at the vehicles offering a fold-down third row. You can basically leave it down all of the time unless you really need them, and you may find heated seats for the kiddos on the 2nd row! Mmmm.... warm children.

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  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    >>I do not want a third row seat, because quite frankly, the ones I've seen (2004 winter car show) don't seem worth it. << One thought. As a fleet manager, I always order a third row seat in all of my vehicles at no cost to the driver. Why? It makes it a lot easier to sell the car at the end of the lease. A lot of people do not want an SUV without the third row. That may not be an issue if you plan to drive the vehicle a long while but it is helpful if you plan to unload it in 2-4 years. Just my 0.02 worth.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    with small kids?

     

    You'd better believe it! What about 2-3 years down the road, and you're on a long trip, and you can completely separate them, give them room for coloring books, video games, drawing paper, whatever...?

     

    Plus, jlawrence has a great point about resale value.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    A few days ago, we had someone on one of the other topics who wanted to get rid of an '04 Honda Civic with 16k miles as the car "no longer met her needs" - maybe it was a new child or something.

     

    Since there were already several heated messages, I did not make a post.

     

    Maybe it is the accountant in me or maybe it is that I am tight with my money. Or maybe it is because my wife questions every car purchase as to whether it is necessary (even when the car being replaced in 12 years old with 150k miles).

     

    If a car is one of your largest purchases, why do people on these boards buy a car that will not meet their needs for a minimum of 3-5 years down the road?

     

    I applaud the OP as she is obviously planning to buy a vehicle and taking the time to do all the necessary homework beforehand. So often, we see people who run out, buy the first car they look at, and a year down the road are unhappy with their purchase and are ready to take a bath on it.

     

    Sorry, I had to get that off my chest ...
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    if you really don't want the third seat, in most vehicles, they can be removed for later use or in some cases, they fold down to provide more cargo space.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,441
    Kids grow fast, take my word for it, so budget for extra room. Plus, the 3rd row comes in handy when they join sports teams or other activities, and you always seem to end up with an extra kid or two (actually, maybe a reason not to get the third row). But, since they fold down when not in use, no biggie.

     

    For an SUV, a Highlander might work. But, not "fun". Since you like mazda, consider a 6 wagon. Plenty of cargo room, loaded with goodies, no bigger than the MPV, and space for the kids to grow.

     

    Actually, the 6 probably fits all your requirements, and has the benefit of being cheaper. The Volvo will work too, but at the expense of room (and it costs more)

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • jen1jen1 Posts: 4
    Good insights from all. I didn't mean to overemphasize the 3rd row deal. It's just that parking in my garage during winter is paramount. With that in mind, I did not think many vehicles with the option of a third row would fit in my garage comfortably. If I do end up purchasing an SUV/wagon that has a 3rd row option, I would definitely get it.

    I do, however, seem to be steering more toward smaller vehicles that don't have a 3rd row option.
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    Higlander, you'll find that it's not any longer than a Camry. Should fit fine, you sit up nice and high, decent mileage, available with 7 pax seating, available with AWD (if you need it).
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,441
    But no wheres near as much fun to drive as a 6 wagon.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (daughter stole that one), and 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again)

  • famwaldfamwald Posts: 114
    I think jen1 posted about wanting a new family vehicle but perhaps not a 3rd row seat? . . . I drove station wagons from 1984 until 2003. We only have one child (who is now graduated from college) but had to have a car that would handle two and sometimes 3 sets of golf bags, plus the carpool and sometimes toting half the boys soccer team around.

     

    I like the suggestion to rent the different types of vehicles for a couple of days or weeks. At least test drive some. Personally I would look at a Toyota Highlander or Pilot if I had to haul a lot of stuff.

     

    Things that were important to me: a real-live useful working luggage roof rack. Don't show me anything that is "just for looks." (gimme a break) You'd be shocked how many of those SUV roof racks are just for show. I've taken wrought iron patio furniture to the refinishers and what didn't fit inside my wagon was tied to the top. I brought home a new solid wood front door on that roof rack. It's got to be "real" and functional. Crossbars that are curved are not functional, IMHO. It's nice if they can be moved around, too.

     

    Cargo space: How many cubic feet of cargo space is there? How wide and how tall is the opening in the back? I was shocked at the differences, when I measured, between the Lexus Rx330 and the Acura MDV. In the end, I decided I am not an SUV person and now drive a sedan. (did I mention the offspring is out of college?-LOL)

     

    Third row seat: Not for me. They make me nervous. I won't even sit in one myself. I always wonder what happens to the kids' legs (if it is a rear-facing) or our backs if that vehicle is rear-ended? There just isn't much metal/plastic/whatever to take up the impact.

     

    Storage cubbies: I want a car with lots of places to toss stuff----kleeenex, hand wipes, sunglasses, visors, sack lunch, small cooler, you name it. It's still a big issue for me. That's why we women carry purses, too, and men don't. <grin>

     

    Reliability and MPG: Be sure that car is reliable. My Swedish honeymoon is over. I went thru 2 Volvo wagons in 14 years and 200K mi. combined, and got tired of the co$tly repai$ they needed every $ix mont$ after their warrantie$ expired. Sure, they'll la$t forever if you can afford to keep fixing them. I will only drive Japanese-made cars from now on. At $2 per gallon I would not want a gas hog SUV no matter how much storage space & cubbies it has. ;-)

     

    Consumer Reports magazine is another wonderful resource in addition to these Edmunds forums. Their Annual Auto Issue comes out every April. You can subscribe at their website to their online version and get the car info. A local library will have the old back issues. Each month they test drive & review 3 or 4 cars of similar category and give their opinions on head room. I am not affiliated with CR in any way. Heck, that mag is why I knew I did not want to even bother test-driving a Camry. They said there was not enough thigh support for taller drivers. They saved me from wasting half a day. (I have a 33" inseam)
  • My friend has been looking for a decent, very cheap ($2500) used car, and I'm amazed at what a difficult time she's had. She doesn't really want to use dealers because they mark up used cars a lot, but every time we pursue a private party transaction (in Los Angeles), the car is either sold by the time we connect with the seller or has something to "hide". Lots of people have to find cars that are inexpensive, either for themselves or their kids... anyone have tips?
  • driftracerdriftracer Posts: 2,692
    are much easier....go on-line and check surrounding areas, expanding your search to 100-150 miles...less of the city hype and speed-selling, a better chance of finding a real used car, versus some piece of junk with a bad title someone picked up at a public auction.

     

    If you have access to local "Thrify Nickel" or "Penny Pincher" papers, you can find some great small town used cars, sold by small town folks.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I don't seem to have all that much time finding good cars at that price range. I generally look for a 8-10 year old domestic compact or midsized that runs well with 80-100k. My personal preferences are Olds Cieras, Buick Centuries, Ford Escorts, some Ford Taurus years ...

     

    The key part is getting them inspected and finding one that has been taken car of.

     

    BTW, one good source for me has been friends and coworkers who take their cars in for trade just to find out how little they are offered for them.

     

    To be honest with you, I see more older people looking for cheap transportation than the kids here in Chicago. Most of the kids have wheels that they can "style and profile" in. It is one of the reasons why the lower end market is harder to sell in.
  • Thanks for the tips. I guess I should have mentioned, that my friend doesn't currently HAVE a car, so she can't exactly travel far to buy one. This is especially a problem in L.A., where public transportation (and traffic) is terrible. She did look at a Ciera yesterday, but it was a no-go. I'm partial to Toyotas because of their reliability record, but even over 100K miles she hasn't been able to find anything yet. I think this may be an endurance test. She did find a fellow that buys huge lots of cars and then sells them to dealers; if she can get something good from him, she'll save herself the dealer markup (we hope). I'll let you know what happens!
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    At under $2500 and limited transportation, you can't afford to be too choosey unless you have someone to drive you around who is VERY patient. Or Enterprise RAC rents cars for $9.99 per day for the weekend nationally.

     

    Personally, I'd rather have a domestic with 100k miles than say a Toyota Camry with 160k and that's what $2500 buys in Chicago.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    We have a 1994 Nissan Altima with 140K miles. The body is a little beat-up and it has no hub caps, but the inside is very, very clean and it runs beautifully.

     

    Since it doesn't look so great, I doubt we could sell it for more than $1500. Maybe you can find a person who has a car like this - not great looking but mechanically sound - and buy it for a reasonable price.
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