Top 5 Optional Car Extras to Avoid At All Costs
If you get a warm and fuzzy feeling when you find a great deal on something you want, then you’re a completely normal human being. Buying a new car is always more enjoyable when you get a solid deal, and when you’re sure that all of your dollars have been well spent.
As you finalize the purchase of that car or truck, the add-ons arrive. Designed to strike while your focus is elsewhere and your wallet is open, some add-ons and extras are sketchy at best, while others are a total waste of money.
Pass on these new car options and save your money:
1. Rustproofing / Rust Modules
Sometimes, a new car will be offered with a high-profit, add-on rust protection ‘module’ for shoppers to consider. The promise? This electronic rust module (complete with an LED light), is connected to your car’s battery, and to its metal structure, to fend off rust.
While the science behind these modules is sound when applied to underground metal tanks and submarines (which are constantly and thoroughly wet), the application is questionable at best in the modern automobile.
The internet is full of examples of module-equipped vehicles showing signs of rust and corrosion, even before their first oil change. Online owner forums and Facebook communities are full of similar stories.
While the idea of using electricity to fend off rust is well proven in some applications, automotive isn’t one of them. If you want to fight off rust, consider a spray-on treatment from a company you’re familiar with.
2. Paint Correction / Upholstery Treatments
Another common time-of-purchase up-sell involves paint and fabric protection packages, often deployed and bundled into various levels and deals, each pricier than the next.
The idea? Your car’s paint is corrected and protected, and treatments are applied to interior surfaces to fend off various stains, spills, gunks and grimes.
Your car’s paint is a highly-engineered product that’s carefully tested and validated to stand up to years of abuse, with no need for additional treatments.
If you’ll consider paint protection anyways, be sure to shop around. A highly-rated local detail shop may offer superior quality and experience compared to your local dealer.
Instead of spray-on fabric treatments, many shoppers prefer more ‘solid’ options like form-fitting seat covers, floor liners, or dog mats, as dictated by their needs and lifestyle.
Remember: your car’s factory warranty coverage doesn’t require the purchase of any add-on treatments or equipment.
3. Electronic Upgrades
Remote starter? Alarm system?
Some cars have these features installed at the factory, and others don’t. If you’re considering adding some electronics to your car before you bring it home, proceed with caution.
Electronic accessories like these should be installed only by trained professionals, ideally using factory-approved parts and wiring harnesses, and ideally in a dealer setting. Low-quality electronics and poor installation and wiring can cause major headaches, expensive repairs, and even void remaining warranty coverage.
If that remote starter or alarm system isn’t a factory-approved product installed by a professional in a dealer setting, you’re probably best to skip right past add-ons like these.
4. Nitrogen Tire Fill
Some vehicles require a nitrogen tire fill to enhance performance, handling consistency, and tread life. These vehicles are typically high-performing cars designed for use on a racetrack, or high-end luxury cars and SUVs.
Unless the vehicle you’re considering specifically needs its tires filled with nitrogen, skip this pricey up-sell, which isn’t likely to make a meaningful difference to the way your Camry or Civic drives. For more on tires, here's our full tire check guide.
5. Window Etching
In both Canada and the USA, industry associations like the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Insurance Bureau of Canada warn shoppers to think twice about window etching service, which ‘burns’ a car’s specific VIN onto each window of the car.
This high-profit add-on promises to deter car thieves set on stealing your ride. Thing is, window etching doesn’t necessarily deter crime rings that want to ship your car overseas, and your money may be better spent on other security-enhancing provisions like GPS trackers and factory-approved alarm and immobilizer systems.
There you have it, five things to avoid when purchasing your new vehicle. Of course, these features aren’t necessarily bad and may serve a purpose for some. But if you’re buying a new vehicle from the dealership and simply want to save your hard-earned money – or simply don’t feel the need to fork out extra cash for add-ons you likely won’t use – then we suggest you skip these fairly expensive new car optional features altogether. In the end, we’re guessing you won’t even notice the difference – except in the wallet.