Why Is Car Buying Especially Terrible For Women And What Should Be Done About It?

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - JUNE 25: Modia Batterjee (R), 45, receives the keys to a Lexus car she is interested in buying from saleswoman Haifa Alsehli at a Lexus dealership the day after women are once again allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 2018 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing why dealerships especially suck for women, the best off-lease sedans, and the choice between a new C8 or a used R8.

First up, why haven’t dealerships, for the most part, adapted to women buyers?

“Why are women still treated so badly in car buying, and what should we do about it? I just had a terrible experience buying my new minivan. The sales associates were generally fairly patronizing, which I can handle as long as I get the price I want, which I did. Pro tip: we know when we’re being talked down to. The real problem came in the finance manager’s office when he tried to pull a bait and switch and tell me I couldn’t get the Honda special financing offer because of the HUGE discount they were giving me on the car, and attempted to offer me a comically insulting rate. I told him I’d be happy to take my very generous credit union financing offer or my cash and go elsewhere. Of course, he suddenly found out he could offer me the rate, but not before making some sexist and condescending comments to me about worrying I’d start crying in the office if he didn’t give it to me. Then he realized he pissed me off and commented about my lack of smile.

I spent the rest of the transaction fuming and trying to decide if I should just leave rather than give them my business, but with small children, my time is very limited so I just went through with the sale.

How should I have handled this? Should I have left? Is there anything I can do about it now? And why do dealerships think this is an acceptable way to treat women?

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This is an excellent question and I spoke with some of Jalopnik’s women staffers for some insight.

Managing Editor, Erin Marquis -

“I’d say women are still treated poorly because there aren’t enough women on the sales floor. Of course, a lot of women aren’t taking dealership jobs because the pay stinks, and there there is often a culture of sexism at the dealerships. However, the fact that dealers haven’t adapted to women buyers is nuts when you consider women make the majority of car buying decisions in America and are usually more informed about the product they want before they step into a dealership.”

Kristen Lee -

“I think women are treated badly because it’s the age-old stigma of women not knowing what a car is and a man assuming he knows better. The thing I’d do about it is give off a sense that you are not to be fucked with, plain and simple. Come in having done your research, knowing what you want, knowing what you don’t want. You don’t have to be rude or anything, but you should be firm, people respond to that kind of thing. Be willing to leave a dealership that’s being shitty to you because of your gender.”

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I will add by saying that try to minimize your time at the dealership, do your test drives see what car you like and conduct all negotiations via the phone or computer. This is really true for all buyers, but it’s harder for a dealer to be patronizing or insulting, if you aren’t standing in front of them and by getting multiple quotes in writing, you have the leverage to see what deals are good and which ones aren’t.

As for what to do about your situation after the fact, there are any number of review sites that you can discuss your experience and the automaker is likely to contact you with a survey. Often dealers will get compensated for these results, so if you give them poor scores due to the way you were treated they may feel it in their wallet.

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Next, with the sedan market taking a dive, what are some good off-lease bargains?

“What are your top recommendations for best deals on sedans coming off lease? I’m looking for a good bargain.”

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When hunting for a pre-owned bargain, you want to look at cars with a hard depreciation curve. Things like Camrys and Accords probably aren’t going to be the best choice but there are some solid options and it all depends on your price point.

In the $20,000 range a lightly used Mazda6, especially with the turbo, is a killer value, as are pre-owned Infiniti Q50s. If you want to be under $20,000 check out a VW Passat or anything from the domestic brands that have taken a beating with hard depreciation, there are some very nice Fusions and Malibus around $15,000. If you would rather be closer to $10,000 used Jettas are a great buy.

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Lastly, when given the choice between the new C8 and a used R8, which way should you go?

“I’m having trouble deciding on whether to buy an Audi R8 (2009-2010) or a new Corvette?? I’m on the fence! I figure that the Audi would outperform the Vette on the track? But Audi would be older. More maintenance?? Vette looks super nice inside.. But I’m not necessarily into the body style. Any insight would help!”

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This is a tough question, but a good one! I think the Vette would be the better track car, GM put a lot of energy into that car and the C7 already could beat some of the world’s best around a racetrack. However, no one is moving on price on the C8, the 2020s are sold out, so the best you can hope for is MSRP on 2021. Like all other Vettes, these will depreciate hard, but the Audi won’t so much especially if you get a manual. So here is what I would do, buy an R8 (maybe a stick) and hold onto it for a few years, then when the Vettes take a dive in the second-hand market swap the R8 for the Chevy.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

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About the author

Tom McParland

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)