Don’t let a dealership jack up cost with supplemental new car add-ons you may not need.

3 minute read

Even with rising costs of goods and services stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, you can still get a sweet deal on a new car, truck or SUV. Some auto manufacturers offer 0% interest financing and deferred payments for up to six months.

Even when you get a fantastic deal on price, payments and financing, however, it’s easy to obliterate any savings when you add unnecessary features, services and warranties that the dealership insists are essential. And why wouldn’t the dealership try to upsell?

New car add-ons bring high-profit margins to auto dealerships, according to automotive resource Edmunds.com. So, how can you avoid letting a financing manager push you into purchasing new car add-ons that you should leave behind in your rear-view mirror?

Find out five new car add-ons to steer clear of if you want to save money.

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1. VIN Etching

Dealerships may offer the add-on of “VIN etching,” where the dealer etches your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the lower corner of the windshield. Touted as an anti-theft measure that can help police quickly identify a stolen vehicle, some auto insurance companies may even give you a discount if you have VIN etching.

However, most dealers charge $300 or more for this feature, which carries a huge profit margin, says Autotrader.com. Instead, buy a VIN etching kit online or from an auto parts store at a cost ranging from $20 to $50 and do it yourself.

2. Nitrogen fill for tires

If a salesman tells you that filling your new car’s tires with nitrogen will save you money on gas, stop wheel rot and offer better overall performance, that may seem like a wise purchase. The cost for a “nitrogen upgrade” can range from $100 to several hundred dollars if the add-on is part of a bundled package.

However, certain nitrogen claims may be inflated, according to Edmunds.com, which has its own new tire recommendation: “Save your money and stick with air.”

Find out: 10 Easy Ways to Save Money on Cars

3. Rustproofing

Most auto manufacturers already include highly advanced rust protection on all new cars, according to Autotrader.com. So don’t let a financing manager bully you into purchasing a rust-proofing add-on for hundreds of dollars more.

Dealerships won’t provide better rust protection than the rust-proofing that comes with a new car when it rolls out of the manufacturing plant, anyway, so skip that add-on. If rust protection is already included as a charge in the vehicle price, “insist that you won’t pay for it,” says Autotrader.

4. Extended warranty

New cars come with the manufacturer’s standard factory warranty, which typically covers the vehicle for up to three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). However, a dealership may insist that you need to purchase an extended warranty for anywhere from $1,000 to “several thousand dollars” in addition to the factory warranty, says the FTC.

In some cases, you may benefit from an extended warranty, but don’t cave to the pressure just to wrap up the time-consuming paperwork. Instead, find out how long the factory warranty lasts and what it covers. You probably don’t need an extended warranty that overlaps coverage with the car’s factory warranty that’s included in the price.

If a dealer tells you that you must buy an extended warranty to qualify for financing, generally a false claim, call the lender to make sure before signing loan documents, according to the FTC. Always review loan documents carefully before signing to make sure the cost for an extended warranty wasn’t added covertly.

Find out: Evil and Awful Fees to Avoid When Buying a New Car

5. Pinstriping

Who doesn’t want some spiffy pinstriping on a new car? But that doesn’t mean you should pay $300 to a dealer who offers the feature as a costly add-on.

If you must have pinstriping, pass on the dealer add-on and shop around instead for a good deal at an independent car repair or body shop to do the job for less than half what the dealer charges, recommends auto site FindtheBestCarPrice.com.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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