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Women More Comfortable Negotiating Car Purchase, but Men Seek More Savings

By Aaron Crowe

Haggling with a car salesman is “fun” for more women than men, but women aren’t using the opportunity to negotiate as much of a discount as the men are, a new study has found.

Women car shoppers are becoming more comfortable negotiating a car purchase, and prefer to negotiate more than men do in key areas, according to a survey by, an online car lease marketplace.

While 33% of women say negotiating with a car dealer is a “fun process” that they love, only 25% of men rated the negotiating process as high. Most men thought it was a necessary evil or have found ways to eliminate negotiation.

When they did negotiate, 81% of men said they try to get $2,000 or more off the MSRP, compared to 63% of women.

“Women are more interested in negotiating, but once they start negotiating, they’re not aggressive,” says Scot Hall, executive vice president of Swapalease.

More women driving than men

Haggling over a car’s price is a good skill to have, and one that more women may be doing as the number of female drivers increases. The number of women drivers in the U.S. surpassed men in 2010 — 105.7 million women to 104.3 million men — according to a 2012 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Women are becoming more comfortable negotiators partly because they’re gaining more confidence with the research they’re doing before visiting a car dealer, Hall says. Having lots of information at hand that they’ve researched is the best negotiation tactic for both sexes, the survey found.

But the next most best negotiation tactic for women was to first focus on the monthly payment they’re comfortable with — 22% of women vs almost 9% of men. That’s a method that most experts advise against, instead recommending negotiating the best total price of a vehicle and not the monthly payment.

Women pay more than men

Doing more research is an area where women are more likely to do better than men in car purchase negotiations, says LeeAnn Shattuck, a professional car negotiator at The Car Chick who helps buyers get a deal that they normally might not be able to get themselves. In seeing how men and women negotiate with car dealers, Shattuck says she’s seen women typically pay $1,000 more than men.

Why? Women are better negotiators in business-to-business dealings because they want to help improve long-term relationships and continue to do business together. But with a car dealer, where they might not return for another purchase, a long-term working relationship isn’t necessary, Shattuck says.

“Each side is trying to win, meaning the other side is going to lose,” she says.

Trying to build a long-term relationship with a car dealer is a weakness that women need to be aware of, she says.

“We want to have a positive experience where we’ll pay a little more money to have a positive buying experience,” Shattuck says.

Economists by nature

“Traditionally, women have been economists by nature,” says Nancy Irwin, a therapist in Los Angeles. Always seeing that the young are cared for, and unable, until recently, to go out into the world and compete for “food,” women have historically been conservative out of necessity, Irwin says.

“While some react to this by going in the opposite direction of overspending, we by nature are careful with how we spend,” she says.

With large purchases like cars, more care is needed, Irwin says. “Men, by nature, feel confident that they can always make more because the world supports men as earners. They by nature do not have to be as careful.” While men may think there will always be enough for them, women wonder deep down, “Will there be enough?” Irwin says.

How women can negotiate a better price

To get a better deal on a car, women should be more aggressive, Hall says. Doing that includes coming prepared with pricing information, not focusing on the monthly payment, and realizing it can be a long process, he says.

“If you go into a car dealer and expect to sign on the dotted line at the same time, you’re probably going to have less negotiating power,” says John Sternal, a spokesman for Swapalease.

Women car buyers shouldn’t let a salesman hurt feelings if they don’t make a sale get in the way of the deal, Shattuck says. While women may be more interested in a long-term business relationship, most car dealers aren’t, she says. Though, she adds, you’d think having strong relationships with customers would lead to more referrals.

Women shouldn’t go in to a car dealership thinking they owe the dealer any favors, Shattuck says, and they should remember that the dealer needs to earn their business and that the customer can always walk away.

“The dealership is competing for your business, not the other way around,” she says.


Aaron Crowe is a journalist who covers the auto industry for