Car-buying tips for women
By Lauren J. Fix
We sit down and stay a while every day in our cars. When it comes to our vehicles, there are some comforts we shouldn’t live without. Have you ever tried to get in a sport utility vehicle in heels and a dress only to find the seats don’t feel comfortable and it was a chore to climb aboard? Or the controls were designed for a truck driver, not someone with fingernails? I have, and it’s very aggravating. It’s time to buy vehicles that make us happy. Why not? We deserve it.
One of the most important factors in comfort is seating. But only 68 percent of women are satisfied with the seats in their vehicles, according to the Good Housekeeping Women’s Automotive survey from J.D. Power & Associates.
It doesn’t have to be comfy as a couch, but, after a short ride, who wants get a back adjustment?
Have you ever tried to change the radio while driving? Control size and ease of reach are critical. There are so many distractions on the road already. Look for radio knobs that are large, close at hand and easy to understand. You shouldn’t have to be a computer expert to program your radio or temperature control. That’s just plain silly.
Women appreciate all the extra goodies, too. Our favorite conveniences are: sunroofs, quality radios, CD players, lit visor mirrors, and heated, leather and power seats.
We also look for features that make our lives easier. Our priorities: cup holders (the more the better — and deep enough to stop spills), seat belts that are comfortable and adjustable, gauges that are easy to read day and night, ample storage for our purses and briefcase (there never seems to be enough spaces to store things — just like a closet) and larger glove boxes with built-in tissue holders.
Visibility is critical to our safety in cars; many vehicles have Alaska-size blind spots and are difficult for smaller-framed women to maneuver into parking spots. Next time you buy a car, make sure that you adjust and test your side- and rear-view mirrors properly. For visibility and backing up (not checking your hair), make sure you can see all around you. It’s for your own safety.
Remember, you have to live with this vehicle for a while. It’s OK to be fussy.
Used Cars for Savvy Women
Meeting toe-to-toe with used car dealers on their turf can intimidate almost anyone, but it’s a feeling that seems to be strongest among women buying cars. With these tips, women can master the used car lot.
Do Your Homework
Do your research on prospective vehicle makes and models. Use the Internet to search for crash test ratings, used car reviews and dealer invoice pricing. Annual maintenance costs for the vehicle should also be considered. It’s wise to research the value of your current car if you’re looking to trade it for a newer model.
Know What to Look for
This is especially important when buying used cars. Deciding on body style, determining your price range and discerning among the features you need and those you want are decisions that should be made prior to visiting the sales lot. This homework will reduce the temptation of bells and whistles and the lure of a vehicle that doesn’t really meet your needs.
Insurance agents often remind customers that a quick call to the agent’s office is a good idea once you have a few options in mind. The monthly vehicle payment might fit your budget, but the insurance bill might not. For instance, switching from liability coverage on a 1995 Honda to full coverage on a late-model Acura would create quite a hike in insurance costs — one that needs to be included in the purchasing decision.
Evaluate Buying Style
Women buying cars who are leery of the stereotyped used car dealer might feel more comfortable going to a dealership with set pricing. But no-haggle prices aren’t always your best bet. If buying a certified pre-owned or used car, always ask for a CARFAX or history report to protect your investment.
Pre-approval from a bank or credit union enables women to know exactly how much they can spend. They’re also likely to receive a better interest rate by securing the loan on their own ahead of time.
Lauren Fix, the “Car Coach,” is a nationally known automotive expert and an authority on consumer issues. She is an author and a racecar driver. Visit www.thecarcoach.com for more tips.