Home > Uncategorized > 4 Car-Buying Add-ons You Should Watch Out For

Comments 0 Comments

Negotiating a car price can be exhausting. And just when you think you’re all done, you may discover — thanks to add-on costs — the price you’ve agreed on isn’t the one you’ll actually pay. In fact, you may even be told you can’t get out of it, because the add-on has already been added to all the cars on the lot. It can be tempting to throw in the towel and just agree, rather than face the prospect of doing this all over again at another dealership.

But what if some of the things they suggest sound tempting? Are they ever worth it? Some may be, if it’s something really important to you (say, pinstripes). Others (rustproofing, anybody?) may not be. If you’re buying a new car, it has already been treated; a supplemental treatment is likely not necessary. Here are some others you should consider carefully.

1. Fabric Protection

Your car should already have upholstery that wipes up fairly easily. Car manufacturers know we spill things, and they design cars accordingly. If you want additional protection, you can buy a spray-on fabric protectant and apply it yourself. Mike Quincy, auto content specialist at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn., told Bankrate that new cars don’t need it, and that humans could actually do without the chemical exposure.

2. VIN Etching

VIN etching can be a good thing — and police and car insurance agencies recommend it. It may even save you money on car insurance. However, having the dealer do it can add more than $100 to your cost, according to the Consumer Law Group. You can buy a kit and do it yourself for $20 to $30. Also, some police departments will do this for a small fee.

3. Extended Warranty

Particularly if you are buying a new car, you probably don’t need an extended warranty, and the money would be better spent getting all the regular maintenance done. After all, problems caused by failure to do routine maintenance are not typically covered by a warranty, anyway. An exception may be if you are buying a car that is extremely expensive to repair. But in general, new cars tend to be reliable and Autotrader recommends against them, as veteran auto writer Doug DeMuro wrote recently.

4. Credit Insurance

What would happen if you became disabled, couldn’t work and couldn’t pay? Credit insurance might make sure that payments are made for a certain period of time or even that the vehicle is paid off. There are different kinds of insurance, with different conditions. All will increase your car payment. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests giving it some thought and checking to see if there are less expensive options available. You do not have to sign up the same day you purchase your vehicle.

Also, beware of “menu-selling” at the finance office, where you are asked something like, “Which of these warranty options do you prefer?” and opting out is not among the choices. In many cases, you can opt out; it just isn’t on the document. Ask. Even if you do decide you want one of the options offered, you don’t have to buy it that day. According to AutoTrader, you can buy an extended warranty for your car after you buy, and “any time before the car’s manufacturer warranty expires.” You may prefer to decide at your kitchen table, rather than at the dealership.

How to Get (Only) What You Want

It is important to go over every item listed on the invoice — and the “supplemental invoice,” which may contain dealer-added options, like paint protection or nitrogen-filled tires (neither of which is essential). Make sure you understand and agree with the charges.

It can be hard to walk away once you’ve invested so much time and energy. You may need new wheels, and have spent much of the afternoon test-driving, then negotiating… and be willing to fork over more than you planned just to have this whole ordeal be over, and who could blame you? You’re tired, and you just want to go home.

A possible alternative is to go in only to decide which models and which options most appeal to you — and then check with your insurance agent to see what they would cost to insure, particularly if a difference in cost would influence your decision about which to buy. At that point, you can call or email dealerships and ask them for their “drive-out price,” including tax, title, delivery and any other charges, of the make and model you want with the options you want. Many dealers actually have an Internet department accustomed to working this way. That way, you know exactly what you’ll pay before you walk in. You take a test drive, and if it’s as expected, go sign the paperwork. If you enjoy the “sport” of the haggle, this may not be for you. But if you like comparing prices without having to sit in multiple managers’ offices, this could save you time, and possibly money.

You could go a step further and get financing approved from your bank or credit union before you go to the dealership. Getting your credit in top shape before you begin shopping is smart anyway; a good credit score will help you qualify for the best interest rates. If you’re not sure where you stand, there are many ways to get your credit scores for free, including through Credit.com.

And if you want add-ons, you can add them on later — and know exactly what they cost.

More on Auto Loans:

Image: moodboard

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team