Dealer Options to Avoid
Window Etching: Another easy-money markup for car dealers; they etch your vehicle’s VIN on a window so that your car can allegedly be tracked in case it’s stolen. But that’s not going to scare off thieves, particularly if they break the window to gain entry. If you think it will, don’t pay the car dealer a couple hundred dollars to do it. Buy a $20 kit from a local auto parts store and do it yourself.
Alarm System: Many cars come with a basic form of security, such as coded keys, but many dealers will also try to sell you a full-featured alarm system. While a good security system is a wise investment if you live in an area with high auto-theft rates or drive a vehicle that’s popular with car thieves, you’ll usually get a better deal by going with an “aftermarket” alarm installed by a car stereo shop. But if you do decide to go with the dealer’s add-on alarm for convenience’s sake, make sure it’s a reputable brand, such as Code-Alarm or Automate, and that you’re not being overcharged by comparing the features you’re getting with what’s available from the aftermarket.
|1. Honda Accord||6. Mercedes-Benz C-Class|
|2. Toyota Camry||7. Toyota Prius|
|3. Toyota Corolla||8. BMW 3-Series|
|4. Nissan Altima||9. Cadillac CTS|
|5. Toyota Camry||10. Honda CR-V|
Extended Warranty: Since vehicles come with longer and more comprehensive warranties these days, extended warranties are usually not worth the extra money. If you plan to hang onto the vehicle for a long time, an extended warranty can be a good investment if and when your car needs major repairs. But don’t buy it from the dealer, since you can often get a better deal through independent insurers, such as Warranty Direct.
CD Changer: The price of a CD changer at a dealership can be twice what it is at a car stereo shop or electronics store. That’s because carmakers use proprietary connections and cables that force the owner to use the brand’s CD changers — unless you know better. Many car stereo shops carry adapters that can connect an aftermarket CD changer to a factory radio that has CD-changer controls at a fraction of the cost of the dealer option. But these days you’ll probably want to skip the CD changer altogether and just make sure your car has an auxiliary input that allows you to connect an MP3 player, or a system like Ford’s Sync that can also control an MP3 player by voice activation.
Rear-Seat Video: Whether to choose this dealer option is not as easy to decide as the ones above. While you can typically get an equivalent aftermarket rear-seat video system for several hundred dollars less, some people prefer the seamless integration and functionality (such as being able to control the system from the in-dash radio) of a dealer-installed system. Plus, you can roll the price of a dealer’s system into the overall cost of the vehicle and, if you’re financing or leasing the vehicle, pay for it a little at a time.
Doug Newcomb has been writing about car electronics since 1988, as editor of Car Audio and Electronics, Car Stereo Review, Mobile Entertainment, Road & Track Road Gear and as a freelance writer. His new book, Car Audio for Dummies, is available from Wiley Publications. He lives in Hood River, Oregon.
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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.