Used Car Buying Tips for Women

May 7th 2016

Buying a used car is an experience with a reputation for being confusing and often frustrating. A major part of the problem stems from not being able to rely on the information presented by the dealership’s sales staff. Unfortunately, this facet of the used car buying experience is sometimes exacerbated when a woman visits the lot to pick out a new ride. The car buying process is troublesome for both men and women, and there are certainly plenty of women who are as informed and as capable as any man seeking to purchase a used vehicle. But the perception holds that women are less engaged in the car buying process, though, and that perception creates a unique dynamic between salesmen and women who are looking for a car.

This guide will help you navigate through the variety of used car buying options for women. Whether you are purchasing from a dealership, private seller or used car auction, pay attention to these key tips to help you get the car you want at the terms that are fairest and make the most sense. 

Vehicle Choice

Choosing the right vehicle is a process that should be started long before you actively seek to buy a used car. Things to consider include:

How You Will be Using the Vehicle

Before seeking out a particular vehicle, you should have a good understanding of what you need in a used car. If you plan to use the vehicle for a long commute to work or frequent trips across the state or across the country, you will need a car that has better-than-average gas mileage to save you money at the pump. 

Weather plays a role in helping you choose the right used car. Choose a car that meets the environmental conditions of where you live and plan to travel.

Essential Features and Capabilities of the Used Car

Inside the vehicle is where most of the creature comforts are found. Features such as heated seats, air-conditioning, GPS navigation and bluetooth connectivity for your cellphone are all features that can make the difference between a car that merely gets you from point A to point B and one that offers a comfortable driving experience. 

Insurance Rates of Varying Types of Vehicles

Your insurance rates are largely determined by the type of car you choose. Most people already realize that a sports car will cost more in insurance premiums than a family vehicle, but what is not as well-known is the fact that a simple distinction between a car having a 4-cylinder engine and one that has six cylinders can mean an increase in insurance rates. You might choose to go with the vehicle that has a more modest engine and a slew of safety features because of the savings you can enjoy when choosing insurance coverage.

The Price Range That Fits

Price doesn't just involve the overall selling price but also the cost of maintenance, gas prices and insurance rates as mentioned previously, as well as payments that can vary based on the model year of the vehicle you choose.

Where to Shop

You can find quality used cars at a dealership, through a listing by a private seller or through an auto auction. Each option has advantages, as well as unique circumstances that need to be understood.


The benefits of a dealership include quality assurance (in the way of the backing of the dealership for maintenance), the security of knowing the vehicle has been through an in-house inspection (often designated as a “certified used vehicle”) and the comfort of knowing where to go with future questions or concerns about your vehicle. 

The dealership sales staff are trained salespeople who are experienced in getting the highest possible price for your vehicle while giving you the lowest possible for your trade-in.

Private Seller

Private sellers have incentives to be less than forthcoming about the vehicle they are selling, as they aren’t professional salespeople. A private seller can offer more details about the car depending on how long they've been the sole owner, but keep in mind that some private sellers may try to downplay or not discuss details that could be perceived as negative.

Auto Auction

There are deals to be had at an auction, but the process can be a bit intimidating. You are often unable to thoroughly review the vehicle before having to submit a bid, which increases the risk of making a purchase you may later regret.

Pay Attention to Details

When buying a used car, you should be particularly mindful of these vital details:

  • The mileage of the vehicle. Mileage is relevant to the warranty and gives you a sense of how much the car was driven since it was brand new (which could indicate wear and forecast maintenance issues).
  • The Carfax report that lists maintenance issues and any collisions in the car’s history.
  • Extended warranty options that may be offered by the dealership or are already covering the car if you are purchasing from a private seller.
  • Recent inspections by either the state or the dealership selling the used car. 

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