Survey: Women Are Smarter, More Thorough When Buying Cars

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Study after study shows that, generally speaking, women are uncomfortable haggling over major purchases. The groundbreaking book Women Don’t Ask indicated that men are four times more likely to initiate negotiations than women, and that women have been known to pay upwards of $1,300 extra to avoid haggling over the price of a car. But a new survey demonstrates that the assumption that women are clueless pushovers easily taken advantage of by car sellers couldn’t be more wrong.

The new survey, conducted on behalf of the car lease swapping site LeaseTrader, shows that women are more likely than men to ask tough questions and be more thorough during the car-buying process.

When taking over a lease from a previous owner, more than two-thirds of women (67.2%) do their due diligence and order that the vehicle be inspected before the transfer occurs. Only a bit more than half of men (54.5%), by contrast, bother with the vehicle inspection. The differences among young consumers are especially noticeable. While young men (ages 21 to 30) are especially inclined to wing it blindly, with just 42.3% requesting a vehicle inspection, 78.2% of women ages 21 to 30 ordered an inspection prior to making a purchase.

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What’s more, women seem to take a different, more prudent approach to car buying. LeaseTrader reviewed customer correspondences throughout 2011 and found that women asked different questions than men. Female buyers were more likely to inquire about a vehicle’s accident history, safety performance, and overall functionality. Guys, on the other hand, tended to focus more on aesthetics, technology, and driving and engine performance.

In a press release, LeadeTrader’s CEO offered some analysis:

“We’ve been studying gender differences and preferences in car shopping within our marketplace for several years,” said Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder ofLeaseTrader.com. “That our data illustrates a deepening relationship between women and cars comes as no surprise to us given that the gender gap has narrowed and even reversed in some areas since our marketplace opened nearly 15 years ago.”

The LeaseTrader data jibes with studies indicating that women are better in most decision-making processes, and especially when it comes to investing, because they are less confident and more risk-averse than men. Women may be more inclined to avoid confrontation (i.e., haggling), but they are also smart enough to ask the right questions to avoid getting stuck with a lemon.

As for dudes, the age-old stereotype of us refusing to ask for directions when lost seems to hold true in terms of buying cars. In the same way that men insist they know where they’re going, they also tend to think they know what they’re doing when buying a car, even if the entirety of their knowledge of oil changes consists of pulling into Jiffy Lube and handing over a credit card.

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Whereas women are more careful during the car-buying process, men are more confident—often to the extent that they won’t bother asking questions about a vehicle’s safety record or getting the vehicle inspected. What’s unclear is whether the average guy’s confidence is warranted.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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