Do you remember a time when you had to bring a man with you when you’re buying a used car? Sadly, for a lot of women, it wasn’t that long ago. There’s a myth that persists which suggests women get taken advantage of at dealerships or when purchasing from private parties—and that’s based on the bigger myth that women don’t know anything about cars. That they don’t know how to negotiate. Of course, these last two myths aren’t true. However, the idea that women get taken advantage of can still happen because you never know what kind of biases a private seller of salesperson will have.

If you want to take buying a car into your own hands, ditch the idea that you can’t do it solo. There are many ways to flex your negotiation skills and get the car of your dreams at a fair price. Here are some foundational ways to go about it.

  1. Do your research. This is true for all genders. You need to know what you’re looking for before you start the car shopping process. This will help inform you of what you need and why, and your knowledge will be apparent to the salesperson. If it’s clear that you know what you’re talking about (like how much horsepower you want), the salesperson will automatically know that you can’t be taken advantage of.
  2. Present yourself as confident. Confidence goes a long way, and there are many ways to increase your confidence. Unfortunately, for both men and women, a lot of these “tricks” occur on the surface and are based on biases held by other people. For instance, if you dress more professionally, you’ll be taken more seriously a lot of the time. However, if you look and feel your best, you’ll also present as more confident. Having done your research will also increase your confidence.
  3. Always negotiate. Negotiation is always an option, whether you’re at a dealership or talking to a private seller. This doesn’t always mean that you’ll be able to get a lower price, but it’s worth a try. At dealerships, you may also be able to negotiate for extra perks, like dealer maintenance packages or extended warranties. Don’t accept the asking price immediately, even though these days many dealerships are very transparent about the pricing.
  4. Shop at the end of the month. Salespeople need to make monthly quotas (as do their managers). When the end of the month creeps up, they often have permission to negotiate to lower prices compared to the start of the month in order to make quota. If you can wait until December, you can also take advantage of soon-to-be last year’s models for a steal. Most people shop for cars in the summer, especially when looking for a convertible. If you’re looking for a convertible, winter months are the best times to shop around. Nobody else is looking, and sellers will be eager to clear out that inventory.
  5. Demand the car’s report. This will be easy at a dealership, but not so simple when shopping privately. You need to have a full history of the vehicle, and this is easily accessible through third-party sites. If a seller seems hesitant about giving you this information, that’s a big red flag. There’s a chance the car may have been in an accident or flood. Not all accidents mean the car shouldn’t be purchased. If it was a minor fender bender, it’s often still drivable, but you deserve a fair price after taking into account the diminished value.

As you begin your car shopping process, take advantage of the tech available to you. Compare cars online, research their pros and cons, and be prepared with a foundational understanding of your top-listed vehicles.

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