How to Get a Good Price on a Vehicle (Without a Male Accompanying You)

The fact I even have to add that second part onto the title tells you how far our misogynistic society has yet to change. You see, I recently went out and purchased a truck by myself for our family. Posting about this on social media caused quite the flurry. “You went alone? What was that like? How did you do it? Why didn’t your husband go with you—are you guys not getting along?”

This last question is probably still lingering in people’s heads as I’ve been writing this post while traveling in the U.K. with my son (when childcare falls through, you make lemonade. Or change a trip to your sister’s wedding into a mother-son one like I did). So to reiterate what I posted on social media: DH and I are just fine. Actually, we’re better than ever, but that’s a subject of a future post about how awesome FIRE can be for a marriage.

To get back to the matter at hand, it’s possible for a female to not only buy a vehicle by herself but to get an excellent price on it as well. 

(Disclaimer: I grew up in the sticks and spent a fair amount of time tearing transmissions and engines out of cars, so I feel comfortable around vehicles and don’t mind buying them. I still think the following tips could apply to anyone, even if they don’t have the ‘73 Road Runner and ‘74 VW Bug-owner background I have.)

1) Research is a girl’s best friend. Or at least, DH’s, because he’s the rocking researcher in our family. We had been putting off buying a truck for over a year. Because we’d done our homework, we knew what to buy when our 12-year-old Prius started acting up. DH looked up what a good price was for a Toyota Tacoma, so I had the information written down on a piece of paper when I walked into the dealership.

2) Know the Kelly Blue Book Value of your trade-in. And know how much you’re willing to accept for your trade-in.

3) Have your trade-in ready to go. It needs to be cleared out, cleaned, and you need the title with you—signed by your spouse ahead of time if needed. I brought my husband’s license in case they wanted to compare the signature. Also have your license on you (because you can’t buy a car without one, ask me how I know) as well as the registration and insurance card for your trade-in.

4) You could read spend your time emailing around to get the best price, but… One of my Facebook friends did this—while posing as her husband. However, due to circumstances I’ll write about in a future blog post, we didn’t have time to email around.

5) Use the bathroom first. I am more comfortable being allowed to approach the salesperson I want to use. The salespeople stand in the doorway of the new car area, waiting to pounce on the people walking through the door. I parked beyond and walked in the service entrance to use the bathroom there. Only after I had scoped things out did I come up from behind to approach a female salesperson (she was new, so she ended up getting someone to help her. He lied to me, see below).

6) Don’t eat the coffee and donut they offer! I don’t care how amazing the donuts are (made from a local shop, fresh daily, and no chemicals). Remember all those drug rep lunches from residency? You know darn tooting well the easiest way to get someone to agree with you is to feed them. So hold onto your donut cravings until you’re signing the check.

Pro tip: I brought my own water bottle and had just finished eating breakfast when I walked into the dealership so I could avoid being served anything by them.

7) The internet is your BFF. Before you walk into a dealership, you better darn well know their internet prices. Because they’re usually $4,000(!!) below what the showroom prices are. I used this to my advantage when I was negotiating by using my phone to pull up the best dealerships’ prices for the same year and model of the truck I wanted. They instantly dropped their price to match the competition even though it was 3 cities away.

Side note: The last time I bought a vehicle for our family was in 2013 when I purchased used. I saved over $9,000 off the sticker price because I walked into the dealership with my laptop and pulled up the open image of their internet deal. Because it was such an excellent price, they didn’t believe me until I matched the VIN numbers to the showroom price they were attempting to sell me on.

8) Put on your big girl pants and negotiate! I sent the bill back a few times before I would accept their price. Because I wasn’t afraid to negotiate, I ended up with $500 more for my trade-in than I had expected to get.

9) Examine the proposed price, and its breakdown in detail. The dealer tries to rush you looking at this. Take your time with it and ask them to leave it with you while you think it over (and come back here to reread this post). I cut $1,000 off the purchase price by telling them to take off the rust and ding protection. I mean, hey, I have two boys and live in the south. This truck is gonna get dings, and I don’t care. And since I don’t live up north anymore, rust is no longer a concern.

10) While you’re thinking over the bill of sale, walk back to the vehicle and examine its sticker. Because I am a writer, words have power to me. I believed the salesman when he took a package of electronic cords out during the vehicle inspection and said, “We give these to you.” The next day, I realized when I was looking over the truck window sticker, that I was “given” those cords to the tune of $69! I already had these cables at home.

11) Look at the proposed bill of sale for how much they’re charging you for the car mats. Then go look the prices up of the car mats on Amazon. Pretty sure I could have cut the cost of those awesome mats in half by going to an auto store and buying them myself.

12) Think long and hard before you fork over money for extended warranties. We have faith in a Toyota lasting a long time because Toyotas have been so reliable for us. And we’ve read this book.

13) Be okay pissing people off. I could tell from the finance guy’s body language he was miffed at me when I politely declined the extra $4,000 for extended warranties. He couldn’t understand why I’d “decline to protect an investment.” First, his definition of an investment and mine are obviously vastly different, but that’s another story. He told me proudly that 79% of his customers bought these “protections.”

I wanted to ask if the 21% of customers who didn’t purchase those warranties were also the ones who paid in cash. Instead, I smiled, pulled out the checkbook, and asked if I could have a donut. 😉

So there you have it, we’ve officially joined the truck culture. Now we get the “truck wave,” and fellow truck owners chat with us in parking lots. People approach and ask about our soft topper that is amazing for camping (props to DH who found it on a truck forum).

And as a former Prius owner I can’t believe I am about to write this sentence, but I will gleefully declare: WE LOVE OUR TRUCK! Do any of you have trucks, if so, what’s your favorite part about having one?

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14 thoughts on “How to Get a Good Price on a Vehicle (Without a Male Accompanying You)”

  1. I bought my Subaru by myself 4 years ago next month, and we don’t get the warranties either. It was a great feeling.

    1. Thanks for the stopping by and the comments CD! Was just talking with DH the other day about how I’d love it if the two of you met—you’d be fast friends as you have a lot in common.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I’m going to add this to Fawcett’s Favorites on Monday.

    Dr. Cory S Fawcett
    Prescription for Financial Success

  3. I LOVED this article. My wife and I were actually just talking about this topic yesterday. One of our friends had a furnace company refuse to deal with her without her husband. Even after she called their main office. Unbelievable, really.

    I can also say that salespeople have a much tougher time with my wife than me. She drives a 4Runner (that she bought completely on her own). I honestly should have brought her with me when I got my Tacoma [truck wave]. Regretfully, I traded it in for a small car in a fit of environmental consciousness and am now waiting to inherit her 4Runner when she decides on her next vehicle.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Loonie. We may end up taking this truck up to your country for a drive through in a year or two, so wanted to have something good. Glad to know you had one. I get it about the environment—we are cringing that we now have both a van AND a truck, which for our family, feels like overkill. We haven’t figured out what to do about that yet—hoping we’ll have a clue next academic year. Truck wave back at ya’!

  5. I LOVE shopping for cars, much to my husband’s dismay. I just don’t like to spend the money actually buying them, lol. Lots of good tips here! There’s nothing worse that a salesperson who leads off with asking what color you like. I like to ask lots of technical questions about things like torque to re-balance the interaction.

  6. I enjoyed reading this, especially the tip about going in to use the bathroom and with a full stomach to not get fatigued during the process.

    Your experience was very similar to mine when I bought my Honda truck twelve years ago, some things never change. May these mid-size japanese trucks run forever

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