How to Avoid Getting Scammed by Car Salesmen and Mechanics
Automobile owners often face one of two inevitable realities: their car needs repairs or needs replacing. Unfortunately for women, either of those issues can pose significant stressors aside from the usual inconveniences associated with repairs or vehicle purchases. When you are ignored, overcharged, or patronized at the mechanic shop and car dealership because of your gender, taking your car in for repairs or purchasing a new one altogether become daunting tasks.
The sexist stereotype that some dealerships and repair shops employ toward women is changing, but not quickly enough. Many female car owners still deal with inappropriate treatment when defending themselves against this stereotype; this bias extends even to the few women working in car sales and the repair industry. However, there are ways to fight against sexism from car salesmen and mechanics and avoid getting scammed.
Use Your Consumer Power
Gender diversity is critical to profits in the modern auto industry. Women are literally and figuratively the driving force behind car sales and repairs. Women buy 62% of new cars and influence 85% of family car purchases in the United States. The stereotype that women are not interested in cars is patently untrue, just like the assumption that women actively avoid careers in STEM fields. As a woman, you have far more purchasing power than you think when you walk in the doors of a dealership or mechanic’s shop.
However, many women struggle to be treated seriously by salesmen and mechanics. Nearly 49% of millennial women say they felt deceived and forced into buying unnecessary car features for new vehicles. How can women make these automobile experiences better for themselves? Understanding your purchasing power can make your next car purchase or repair less stressful and uncomfortable. You can counter sexism in the auto industry by doing your research, developing a plan, and aggressively sticking to it.
Research and Plan to Avoid Scams at the Dealership
Researching and devising a plan before you walk into a dealership are the first two steps to making purchasing a used car easier on yourself. While it’s not necessary for you to have a make and model selected beforehand, you should consider the various factors that are important to you such as price, functionality, safety, and style before entering the showroom.
If you are buying a new or used vehicle, use Kelly Blue Book or local car traders to research cars that may fit your criteria. Then look at the dealership’s website to determine the price they paid for the vehicle. Having this crucial information ahead of time gives you leverage in any conversation with a salesman; if you know the car’s retail price and what the dealer paid for it, you can negotiate a better deal and avoid inflated sales quotes. At some dealerships, women are quoted car prices at least $200 higher than male shoppers; therefore, it’s important to have this information before you sign any sales contracts.
Have a financing offer in place first as most auto sales companies make significant revenue through their business offices, including a portion of any auto loans. Dealership loans provide the most favorable terms for the business rather than the customer. Get pre-approved for an auto loan from a credit union or bank and then make the salesman compete to offer a cheaper deal with lower financing. You are less likely to be overcharged for your new car loan when you already have your funding in place. If you are concerned that your credit isn’t good enough for a bank loan, there are still ways to get one like a loan secured with proof of income documentation.
Use online dealer reviews to select a dealership that treats women equally and respectfully. Websites like Cars.com and Women-Drivers.com provide dealership and salesman reviews from auto dealers local to your area. Read these reviews to determine which people and places are respectful and fair to female customers.
After your sale is complete, pay it forward by leaving a review of your interaction with salesmen. Online reviews influence 68% of female consumers, so internet reputations matter to the dealer’s bottom line. Women can continue to pressure and change the sexist attitudes in auto businesses by sharing their testimonials through online reviews.
Make it a Woman’s World at the Repair Garage
Cars require regular maintenance aside from any unexpected or emergency repairs that may occur. Unfortunately, some women find themselves at a repair shop wondering how a $25.99 oil change became a $500 repair bill. These situations happen because some mechanics believe that women are more poorly informed about repairs and car operation in general; thus, they can convince female customers that unnecessary, expensive repairs are necessary for their car.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid being cheated at the repair garage:
- If you know what your needs, research an estimate for those repair costs in your area. Use sites like RepairPal to determine how much you should pay for car repairs. Knowledge is power, and you are less likely to be charged for unneeded work if you have a repair price at hand.
- If you like cars yourself and know how to maintain yours, ask the mechanic to show you where repairs are needed so he can prove the work is necessary and you can haggle.
- Take your car to a mechanic shop that has been certified by the non-profit Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE mechanics pass tests that verify their knowledge and skill in automobile repair.
- Always ask to have your old car parts returned. You can assess any wear and tear and verify that the repairs were legitimate.
- Request a lower price on repairs. Research shows that women who request a price cut are 35% more likely to get it than men.
This knowledge can make a difference in your treatment as a woman and customer at an auto parts and repair store.
Drive and Repair Your Car with Confidence
Women spend more than $200 billion on car repairs and sales each year. The industry is dependent upon female consumers but still maintains antiquated sexist stereotypes. Empower yourself before you walk into a dealership or a repair shop by using your consumer influence and knowledge to get the best deal and be treated equally at the same time.
This post was authored by Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer, mom and adventurer in the Pacific Northwest. She spends her days pondering what makes a good leader. And then dreaming up ways to teach these virtues to her sons, without getting groans and eye rolls in response.