Most of us have negotiated to buy a car at least once in our lives. It can be an exhilarating and somewhat daunting experience. Traditionally, men have been perceived (whether true or not) as having the upper hand in the car negotiation stakes.

But is that true today? Let’s find out.

What the research says…

Numerous studies have shown that, generally speaking, women are uncomfortable haggling over major purchases. The groundbreaking book Women Don’t Ask indicated that women have been known to pay upwards of $1,300 extra to avoid haggling over the price of a car. But it seems that the assumption that women are easily taken advantage of by car sellers may well be dead wrong.

Indeed, a recent report from found that women generally achieve better deals than men when they buy cars.

Why do women do better?

The data reveals that women typically achieve better outcomes in car negotiations for at least two key reasons:

  1. They ask better questions.
    Female consumers were more likely than men to ask more thorough questions, including inquiring about a vehicle’s accident history, safety performance, and overall functionality. Men, on the other hand, tended to focus more on factors like aesthetics and technology.
  2. They do better preparation.
    Women buyers do more research than men before the negotiation, particularly on the Internet, thereby helping them negotiate better deals. For example, women are more likely to decide on a price before they go shopping for their next car, rather than simply ‘winging it’ on the day.

These findings line up with studies indicating that women are better in most decision-making processes, and especially when it comes to investing, because they’re less confident and more careful than men. While women may be more likely to avoid confrontation – as reflected in competitive haggling behaviours – they are also smart enough to prepare well and ask the right questions to avoid getting ripped off.

What’s the takeaway for you and me in our next car negotiation – and, for that matter, in any of our upcoming negotiations? Do thorough preparation and ask tough, probing questions before you sign the deal.

To further improve your outcomes in your next car, house or salary negotiation, use our Harvard-based Negotiation Planner: Click here to access this free resource.


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