Five Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off When Buying Your Next Car

The bad news is that, while things are somewhat better today than they were in the past, the fact remains that women are more likely to get ripped off when buying a car than men are. This isn’t to say that men never pay more than they should — because they often do. But ask any car salesperson (who is almost always male) whether they’d rather try and sell a car to a man or a woman, and they’ll almost always say the latter. Not because the experience is friendlier, but because the sale is usually easier, faster, and more profitable.

However, if you’re planning on purchasing a new or used car in the future, then there’s some good news as well: you don’t have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Instead, you can keep these five tips in mind that will dramatically improve your chances of being delighted rather than dejected by your purchase:

  1. Don’t fall for the “how much can you pay per month?” trap. This question is bogus. What matters most to you is the total cost of the vehicle. Once that is clarified, you can figure out what the monthly (or bi-weekly) cost would be.
  2. Don’t reveal that you have a trade-in. Otherwise, you’ll likely get what seems like a pretty good (and maybe a great) deal on the vehicle you want to purchase — but this savings will be more than offset by a lowball offer on your trade-in. Find the vehicle you want, negotiate the price, and then reveal that you have a trade-in. And if you don’t get a fair offer, sell your vehicle privately.
  3. Before you set foot inside a dealership, research and determine your financing options — such as getting a bank loan, borrowing from a family member, tapping into a HELOC, and so on. Of course, if the dealership offers you a great finance rate (and sometimes this actually does happen), then you can take advantage of it. If not, then you can handle your own financing.
  4. Don’t be shy about taking a suitably long test drive. This includes driving on residential streets as well as freeways. And don’t feel obligated to chat while driving. You want to pay close attention to everything, from the way the steering wheel handles curves, to the clarity of the radio, to whether the cup holders are big enough to hold your green leaf Kratom smoothie bottle. And of course, don’t hesitate to take a car out again for a second or even a third test drive at a later date.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly:

  1. Always be willing to walk away! This cannot be stressed enough. Because women are (generally) more polite and emotionally aware than men, they tend to be reluctant to walk out of a dealership if they aren’t getting a good deal, or if they just don’t feel comfortable with the way the sales experience is unfolding. The thing to remember is that you don’t have to be rude (even if the salesperson is behaving that way). You can simply say: “Thank you for your time” and walk away. Sometimes, this will even prompt the salesperson to dramatically change their approach and become much more attentive and flexible. But even if it doesn’t, you still win and can head somewhere else.
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