So, you find yourself at a car dealership, and you’ve just finished negotiating the price for your new car. You may be feeling satisfied with the price of your new vehicle, but a visit to the finance office (where the final paperwork will be completed) is where dealerships tend to make most of their money.
Dealers will use all types of sales techniques to get you to purchase add-ons for your new vehicle and unfortunately, for you anyways, most of these add-ons are marked up to the extreme.
While some of these add-ons are essential (such as safety and security features) you certainly don’t need to pay an arm and a leg at the dealership when you can go elsewhere and get the same features and add-ons for a quarter of the price.
Let’s take a look at 10 things you should never buy from a car dealership.
Getting paint and fabric protection from your dealer can add up to $1,000 to the overall amount you’ll be paying for your vehicle. Most dealers will try to sweeten the deal by claiming that their paint and fabric protection plan comes with a five-year guarantee or more.
However, any standard paint finish should last for five years or more anyways if you care for your vehicle properly (washing your car and the occasional wax job can do wonders for your paint).
Frankly, your money will likely be more effective if you stored it away and tackled problems when they occur as opposed to spending it all upfront at the dealership.
Roof racks can be incredibly handy. However, instead of purchasing this particular add-on from the dealership (who will likely sell it for a monstrously high price) visit an online retailer or take a trip down to your local sporting goods store where you’ll be able to find the same add-on for much less. This will save you a significant amount of money.
Once upon a time car keys and key fobs weren’t all that expensive. Nowadays, some keys can run you hundreds of dollars for replacements. To “alleviate” this issue dealerships offer key insurance to help you cover the cost of keys when they’re misplaced or stolen.
If you’re replacing a laser cut key, you might end up paying $500 or more, and unfortunately for you, there’s a good chance your standard auto insurance policy won’t cover the expense. Still, when you think about it, the idea of covering a $500 key (that you’re highly unlikely to lose) with a $200 insurance plan doesn’t make much sense to your wallet.
Talk with your auto insurance company and see if you can add key coverage to your existing policy. You might just find that you’ll only have to pay a fraction of what the dealer is asking.
It’s common practice for car dealerships to bundle a number of products into a single protection package. A common package you would find is windshield, tire, wheel and dent protection. While there’s nothing wrong with providing an extra layer of security to protect your new vehicle, there’s really no need to spend an arm and a leg (what your dealership will charge you) for a protection plan.
Frankly, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually ding your windshield, put in a dent in your bumper, or blow out a tire. The road is rough and with millions of vehicles on the road the statistics are against you when it comes to avoiding an accident.
Your money would serve you better if you put it away in your bank account and paid for damages when they occur, and if the damage is too severe, you could always use the money as a down payment for another car.
If you happen to get into an accident and you owe more than what the car is worth than the amount you receive from your insurance company may not be enough to cover the entire loan balance. You will have to come out of pocket to cover the remaining “gap,” unless, of course, you have gap insurance.
Gap insurance is often a requirement on leases, and while it’s never a bad idea for some drivers to get gap insurance the amount of money you’ll be paying out of pocket at the dealership can be horrendously high.
For instance, you might end up paying over $700 for a policy that you could get just as easily for $20 per year from your insurance company or lender. Do your research and figure out where you can get gap insurance for the least amount of money.
Some dealers will offer to pump your tires with nitrogen as opposed to good old fashioned air, but unless you intend on taking your new car on a racetrack this is an expense that’s not only costly ($200 - $300), but very much unnecessary.
Nitrogen certainly has its uses – it adds more pressure stability as temperatures change, it seeps out of your tires at a slower rate than normal air and typically has less moisture content – basically all reasons why race car drivers love filling their tires with nitrogen.
However, the average driver won’t typically notice these subtle differences. Instead of breaking the bank and spending so much on filling your tires with nitrogen, simply invest in a good tire gauge and make sure your tires are always topped off with air.
If you truly feel inclined to fill your tires with nitrogen than your local tire shop will likely charge you around $10 to provide the service.
There are a variety of security packages that are designed to scare off thieves, but these come at marked up prices when you get them from the dealership. Plus, there are always more affordable third-party options.
If you’re buying a new car than it likely already has a variety of anti-theft systems in place. For example, many new vehicles come with the OnStar system that can be used to track the location of your vehicle. Even more useful is the fact that OnStar can shut the vehicle down in the event of a police chase.
You can visit your local car audio and electronics shop to look for higher levels of security which are often custom built to suit your vehicle specifically.
The problem with many dealerships is that they install security systems on their vehicles to protect them while they’re still on the lot, but will turn around and sell it to you for a marked up price to recoup their costs and make a tidy little profit while they’re at it.
If a security system is adding to the price of your new car demand that your dealer strike that feature from the contract to reduce the cost. Always be willing to walk away from a deal if your dealer doesn’t want to work with you.
If you’re a parent then you know that keeping your kids occupied during long trips is a necessity. With that being said, installing TV screens into the back of your seats will cost you a pretty penny whether it’s installed from the factory or added in by the dealer.
Instead of spending so much money to install an onboard system, consider purchasing tablets. This will keep the kids occupied as they watch their favorite shows and play their favorite games.
Furthermore, tablets can be taken with you anywhere you go. This isn’t an option for an onboard system which can only be used when someone is sitting in the back seat of your car. Tablets are a fantastic and affordable alternative when it comes to rear-seat entertainment.
Here’s how window etching works – your VIN number is etched into the glass of your window which, in theory, makes your vehicle useless to thieves who would not be able to sell it without going through the effort of changing out all of the windows. Dealerships will often tell you that this measure makes it much easier to locate a stolen vehicle.
While this may or may not be as accurate as the car dealership would like you to believe the additional $200 - $500 you’ll be paying to have the etching done is simply not worth the price tag.
Furthermore, if a thief wants your car, they’re probably not going to be thinking about, or likely even notice the window etching anyways. And even if they did savvy thieves would simply replace the windows and recover their money when they sell your vehicle.
Always look at the fine print of any contract you sign. Sometimes dealers will pre-print add-ons such as window etching into the sales contract and make it seem as if it’s a necessary expense. If you spot this in your contract, you can insist that it be removed.
Even if you do want your VIN etched into your windows, there are many ways you can go about it that will save you bucket loads of money. For instance, you can buy a do-it-yourself kit on Amazon for just $20. Don’t let the dealership trick you into thinking they’re the only ones who provide this service.
An extended warranty AKA vehicle service contracts or vehicle protection plans provide coverage for anything that might break after the standard warranty from the manufacturer has run its course.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with extended warranties. They provide the insurance you need in case your car decides to start having problems after your standard warranty ends. However, dealerships tend to sell extended warranty products at horrendously high markups.
New buyers need to understand that they don’t need to purchase an extended warranty when they first drive the vehicle off the lot, and they certainly aren’t required to purchase one directly from the dealership.
A better alternative is to check with your insurance agent or lender who will likely have similar coverage with a price tag that’s far more forgiving to your wallet or purse.
You don’t have to rush into buying an extended warranty. You can buy one at any time during the lifetime of your vehicle, so don’t feel pressured into buying one right now from the dealership. You have plenty of time to think it, especially when you consider the fact that you’ll still be covered by the standard warranty.
Car dealerships are in the business of making money, and they’ll squeeze you for every penny you have if you let them. Be smart with your money and look for third-party alternatives for add-ons whenever you can. Your wallet or purse will thank you for it.
One add-on you should never forget is a car cover. Thankfully, we’re here to help. At CarCovers.com we offer a wide variety of car and truck covers. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor car cover, or a custom car cover we have you covered. Visit us today!