Analysis: Women are savvier car shoppers than men

Gina Roberts-Grey
Imagine strolling through a car dealer’s lot and gazing at the vehicles for sale. Would you rather know about a car’s safety features or a car's performance? The questions you ask when shopping for a car very well could depend on your gender, according to new data.
An analysis by LeaseTrader.com found that men and women approach buying or leasing a car quite differently. The review of records for 500 men and 500 women indicated that women are more apt to ask about safety while men tend to focus on things like engine size.
In general, women car buyers are more thorough in posing questions about a car than men are, says Sergio Stiberman, founder and CEO of LeaseTrader.com.
“When my husband and I bought our new car, I was the one asking about air bags, how it will handle during snowy conditions and other safety-related issues,” Wendy Phillips of Syracuse, N.Y., says. “I could care less how fast it goes. I just wanted a car that is safe.”
In addition to helping avoid wrecks, the female fixation with car safety can save a bundle on auto insurance.
Even though auto insurance rates are driven by factors such as age, marital status and credit history, a car’s safety record and features can affect rates, too. Cars with dual-side air bags and anti-lock braking systems often cost less to insure than cars without those safety-oriented features, says Steve Brooks, president of B&B Premier Insurance Solutions Inc. in California.
Brooks adds that drivers with a history of traffic tickets and accidents typically pay higher premiums than their safer counterparts. Depending on the insurer, two or more tickets or wrecks in a three-year span can trigger a 20 percent to 30 percent premium hike, Brooks says.
Why are women so safety conscious?
Focusing on automotive safety could come down to biology.
Margaret King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis in Philadelphia, says women are far more safety-minded than men. After all, they were born to protect the nest.
“That’s why women choose safe cars and men seek performance cars,” King says. “Women are far more alert to the potential for danger in domestic situations. They are the guardians of children and stage managers of social relations.”
Leta Hamilton, a mother of four in the Seattle area, says her family’s safety is her No. 1 priority.
“Who cares about how fast the car goes? I need to know that at least the car has an excellent safety record," Hamilton says.

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