Dealer Options to Avoid
Beware of these overpriced and often unnecessary add-ons to your new-car purchase.
While finishing the paperwork, some car dealers may try to pad your final tab and their profit by offering last-minute options. It’s important not to cave, and to thoroughly inspect your paperwork for any charges that have been “mistakenly” added.
Christopher Schnieders was in the final stretch of a lengthy and arduous car buying experience when the dealership sprang a not-so-unexpected surprise on him. “It was a real stressful thing, just negotiating the price and knowing something was going to come up,” says the Los Angeles resident and administrative coordinator for a University of Southern California-based think tank.
“So we worked it all out and the paperwork is right there ready to sign, literally with the pen in my hand, and the salesman offers an alarm for around $850. He says it's already installed, and if I don't want it I'll have to wait or come back so they can take it off the car.
“I couldn’t believe it, but somehow I knew it was coming,” Schnieders adds. He decided to get the alarm rather than spend more time at the dealership or have to return. “And the kicker is that the alarm sucked. It kept going off randomly. Now I never turn the thing on.”
The Hard Sell
Schneiders’ experience is not unusual. When it comes time to finish up the paperwork and finally take delivery on a vehicle, many car dealers will try to pad your final tab and their profit by offering — or sometimes adding on without the customer’s approval — a bunch of last-minute options. And it’s typically when car buyers are most vulnerable and just want to drive away in their new ride.
They’ll urge you to protect the car’s underside from rust, its immaculate interior with fabric guard and the shiny paint job with a sealer. They proffer stereo and video systems, alarms and window etching. And though repair bills are the last thing on your mind when you’re buying a new car, you’ll undoubtedly be pressured to buy an expensive extended warranty. Of course, all of these can be easily added to your financing. No matter what scare tactics, finesse or sleight of hand a dealer uses to convince you otherwise, you do not need most of this stuff.
The Car You Want
Since these options are typically pushed on you when you’re finishing the deal (or ordeal) and ready to drive away, it’s essential to stand firm, stay focused and not cave in to an insistent salesperson. It’s also an important time to thoroughly inspect the final paperwork on your purchase, since deceitful dealers have been known to “mistakenly” add extra charges.
And if something seems amiss and can’t be resolved, be prepared to walk away from the deal if it means saving a significant amount of money. While no one wants to start over at that point, keep in mind that the dealer doesn’t want to lose the sale and will likely back off on the additional options — and will focus instead on selling you the car you want.
Here are eight of the most common dealer options and how to avoid them.
Rust-Proofing: Some dealers charge up to $800 for this service, which sometimes amounts to no more than spraying a coating from an aerosol can in the wheel wells. But most vehicles these days come with warranties that cover rust damage for several years. If the dealership tells you it’s already been applied to the car without your consent, refuse to pay for it.
Fabric Protection: For a couple of hundred dollars, some dealers will try to sell you fabric protection for your car’s interior that will repel stains. You know it as Scotchgard. So instead buy several cans and spray it on the seats and carpet yourself. You’ll save some dough and buy some peace of mind the next time you spill coffee in your car.
Paint Sealant: This is another instance where the dealership hopes the car buyer will be gullible enough to believe that it’s using some special technique and material that’ll keep your car’s paint looking factory fresh, when it’s typically the same products found at any auto parts store. The best way to preserve your car’s finish is to wash and wax it regularly. Better yet, take the money you’d pay the dealer to “seal” your paint and instead spend it on the occasional professional detailing.
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Aftermarket companies do not give you better coverages than a factory warranty. And if they do, the price is close to a factory warranty anyway. What you have to be wary of are the dealerships that sell you and aftermarket Company XYZ warranty at a factory (or higher) price! Some people even offer unlimited powertrain coverages through a company, but if you don't go back to that dealership, or if you can't find a shop that honors that warranty, you're screwed. Also, don't forget, that some "Extended" warranties take over only when the factory coverage is done. And are usually LIMITED! A factory Vehicle Service Agreement, like the one's Toyota/Lexus/Scion sell are FACTORY BACKED!!! Not only that, all paperwork reflect Toyota's Logos. Coverage starts from DAY 1 of ownership. Also, think about it. Moonroof/Sunroof, power windows, mirrors, door locks, radio, braking system, airbags, computer system, navigation or entertainment systems are expensive to replace. For less than a $1 a day, you cover all this, and/or hybrid systems, AND the engine/transmission for up to whatever term you choose, as much as 8 years or 125,000 miles! of course price varies depending on vehicle and term, but you're only paying for the warranty during the financing. So if you finance for 5 years, you're still covered beyond that point, (unless you decide something different) Don't knock a Toyota Vehicle Service Agrement! Everyone I've ever sold to have been happy to have bought it. Because, let's face it. Car's engines and transmissions are good to go for a long time. It's the electronics you should always take into consideration. ESPECIALLY on vehicles WELL equipped. I don't care what anyone says about anything I've written. I'm only trying to help. But don't bash me because I work for a dealership. Think about what I said. It's not a hard sell. It's just logic.
I just had to read this. I wanted to check out some of the articles that are on here, because I haven't in some time. Regarding this article, I couldn't agree more, with SOME of what was said. There are things to conider, because the article is general in some areas. I want to comment on a couple of things.
ALARMS & ELECTRONICS: In my 8+ years of experience at my dealership, I find that tayloring additions to a customer's requirements usually helps make a sales process and experience much more convenient for the consumer. However recommending certain features are usually a good thing. But unnecessary to be a hard sell. For instance: People who live in certain areas want and prefer alarms. Factory alarms ARE more expensive than aftermarket ones, but not really by much. You also have to consider warranty covereage. If you decide to go aftermarket, getting it done by the delership puts the dealership at fault, should anything happen (my dealership will cover any aftermarket installation we do, upto 3 years! Installation AND Parts!). Having a side shop do the installation could result in problems, especially if the job is half assed. AND should a company still exist, that doesn't mean they're cover a full repair on your vehicle. The installation agreement usually doubles as a waiver, saying that you understand that you're installing a non-factory part and that the establishment is NOT reponsible for any damages inccurred by the installer. This protects the Installing company, which will offer to replace the part, or re-install a part, but not cover damages on the vehicle, itself.
My Uncle bought a Sienna and had a DVD system installed at a Circuit City, before it went out of business. Not only could he NOT be taken care of, because the store no longer existed, it fried his Sienna's electrical system, which cost thousands to repair, and is NOT covered under warranty, because it was NOT a factory defect.
The reality is, if we offer it we're scum. If we don't, then we're scum because we didn't tell the customer that such an option was available, or such consequences exist. A consumer should be up to date on his/her research, in terms of what's available, a deal can always be struck. But understand that the dealership isn't always the bad guy.