Many women experience feelings of dread and insecurity in relation to the car-buying process. That uncertainty isn’t extraordinary, as buying a car isn’t just a purchase, it’s an investment. You’ll likely be making payments on that investment for years to come, making your decision an important one. Women purchased 54% of the 55 million new and used cars sold last year; yet, between 50%-70% of those women felt disappointed in the outcome of their purchase. Keen research is crucial during the process, but doesn’t need to be a monumental task. Here are three of the best resources that will assist women through the car search, choosing a dealership, and understanding vehicle history reports.
Autolist.com: Your Car Search Resource
It can be difficult to settle on the perfect car that hits the sweet spot between mileage and price, but the startup Autolist has set out on a mission to drastically reduce the time you spend searching! Autolist.com aggregates used car listings from multiple resources across the web, which eliminates the need to endlessly scroll through multiple sites to find your perfect car; instead they are all in one place! Autolist also collects and uses data to create consumer price tools, like their price analysis scatterplot.
After you’ve filtered to your city, make/model, and preferences, the tool delivers an immediate visual of each car matching your search, plotted across a graph with indicators of low, average, or high prices based on the market. Additionally, Autolist provides its listing platform on Android and iOS mobile apps, enabling users to easily search on-the-go. Their “Smart Alert” notifications inform you of brand new listings based on your saved searches, so you never have to worry about checking for the newest listings day by day. Their website and top-rated mobile apps drastically reduce the time and effort needed to search for the right car.
Dealerrater.com: Your Guide to Choosing A Dealership
It’s no secret that a pleasant, enjoyable experience at a car dealership is worth its weight in gold. Saving $200 during a grueling, uncomfortable negotiation most certainly does not hold the same value as saving the equivalent in an easier negotiation. Dealerrater.com provides a database of millions of customer reviews on car dealerships and their employees nationwide. Their “Search by Dealership” feature gets you directly to the information you need through a simple copy and paste. All pertinent information like dealership rating, number of reviews, percentage of customers that recommend them, and awards available at the top of each profile page, making them easy to navigate.
The consumer forum style reviews provide a great deal of valuable information, and allow you to choose your experience based on the experiences of other women buying cars. Look for reviews that mirror your situation, like “family-friendly service”, “patient salespeople”, or “knowledgeable staff”. Some of the best dealerships have reviews from customers with years of car-buying practice that state they will “never go anywhere else!”
Carfax.com: Your Aid in Understanding Your Potential Purchase
Successfully reading a vehicle history report can seem daunting at an initial glance. However, there are three vital pieces of information you should aim to take away from a comprehensive report whether from Carfax.com or your dealership.
Number of Owners
The amount of owners that have regularly driven the vehicle can tell a story of the quality of the vehicle. Chances are, you plan to have this car for 5+ years. If a four-year-old car has already had three owners, the longevity of your investment comes into question. Why didn’t they keep it? What kind of drawbacks might you find after regularly driving the car? Furthermore, a great deal of owners also can mean extended wear and tear on the vehicle.
Just as you wouldn’t go years without maintaining your home, vehicles require consistent servicing. Regular service is a good indicator that the car has been taken care of in the past, extending the life of your investment. This also gives you the confidence that it has been kept up to date with recalls, reducing unknown safety issues.
Any major body work is a red flag, no matter what the condition of the car looks like on the outside. Accidents alter the car from its original state and you can never be entirely sure the repairs were of the highest quality. Theft history can suggest either registration/VIN numbers were tampered with or that original parts were replaced.
With smart, directed research, the process can become a more likeable endeavor for women buying cars, but also for any buyer in the market. Armed with facts and information gathered from these resources, it will be easier to find the perfect car at the perfect price, and once you do find it, negotiations will be easier and less intimidating. A vehicle purchase is one you will live with for a long time, so don’t step into a dealership without the proper tools to ensure you can walk out with zero buyer’s remorse. A new car purchase should be exciting, not exhausting!