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What Extras Should I Actually Pay For In My New Car?

The Facts About Extras

Somebody holding a phone which merges into a road.

No matter who you are or where you’re buying your new car, it’s more or less a given that the dealership will attempt to throw in as many extras as they possibly can. From all kinds of technology—including advanced driver assistance systems, smartphone compatibility, sound systems, GPS-powered satellite technology—to more standard car extras, like paint jobs, sunroofs, warranty deals and shock-absorbing suspension options, gone are the days when buying a new car simply meant four wheels, an engine, and at least one place to sit.

If you look at it from the dealer’s point of view, it makes perfect sense. The more extras they can throw into the deal before they get your signature on that all-important dotted line, the more they can hike up the price, and the more you’ll end up paying. After all, if you were working on a commission basis, wouldn’t you do the same? While it can sometimes feel a little unpleasant, and at times even downright outrageous, it’s important to remember that while this is a car for you, it’s a livelihood for them.

The list of optional extras is more often than not going to extend way past the technical specifications of the car. Indeed, it’s not unheard of for the physical description of the car, with all the extras included, to look more like a novel than a poem. Poring over this heady array of bonuses while you’re at the dealership in the company of the salesman is a recipe for disaster.

No matter how level-headed you may believe yourself to be, I’m sure we can all relate to being awed by something which at the time looks absolutely crucial (of course you need that second aluminium paint covering: how could you live without it?), and later makes you shake your head in a worrying combination of shame, displeasure, and sheer wonderment that you could have been hoodwinked into paying for something so patently ridiculous.

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Stress

A long exposure shot of a busy highway at night.

It’s important not to overstretch yourself in times like these. Buying a car, along with buying a house and setting up a pension plan, is one of the single biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. Never mind that you’ll probably buy a few different cars in your lifetime—each individual purchase composes its own symphony of responsibility, financial obligations, convenience and reliability. We all get stressed out purchasing a new car, and it’s exactly this kind of stress that can make us vulnerable to ending up with ridiculous added features we never needed, and possibly never even wanted.

That’s why we’ve decided to put together a list of some of the most important extras on offer when you’re purchasing a car. Rather than dive in head-first to the dealership’s carefully curated catalogue, we recommend that you browse this list before you go to buy the car itself, in order to prime yourself against any unnecessary technological add-ons without depriving yourself, as well as your purchase, of those extras which are actually important and worth paying for.

As well as listing those extras you should pay for to have in your car, we’re also going to include some of the most common dealership options that you maybe shouldn’t splash any extra cash on. Again, we’re doing this as a way to make sure that you give yourself the best chance of walking away with the car you need. There are items which any car salesman worth his salt will do his level best to get you to buy, and some of them are simply not worth the expense.

What This List Is And What It Isn’t

Bear in mind that this list is not intended to be a one-stop-shop for outfitting your new vehicle with all the bells and whistles it’ll need to keep you satisfied long into the future. We can’t provide you with a list like that, and neither can anybody else. After all, the only person who truly understands their own and their family’s needs is you. Rather, we hope that after browsing through the options represented in this list, you’ll have a clearer idea of what it is you might need in your vehicle, as well as which extras there are which are probably best avoided.

With all that preamble out of the way, let’s dive into it. Here are the extra features you probably should pay to include in the new car you’re about to purchase, as well as the add-ons that you probably shouldn’t pay for.

1: Rustproofing

A hallmark of dealership extras, rustproofing is often at the very top of the catalogue they’ll offer you. Not to be confused with undercoating, rustproofing is in a category all of its own. It sounds great—nobody wants to picture their brand-spanking-new automobile whiling way its hours in an unimpressive, ugly ball of rust.

But don’t be fooled. While the dealership may well offer this as an extra you can pay to include in the package, the vast majority of manufacturers already rust proof their cars right off the bat. This makes sense, too, when you think about it: why wouldn’t they? If you’re in any confusion, ask the salesman if the car you’re interested has already been rustproofed before you even think about purchasing this option.

2: Aux Cord Connection

A standard feature in a lot of cars nowadays, an aux cord allows you to link your phone or MP3 player to the car’s sound system, meaning you can play your own music if you’re not a fan of the radio. This is going to come down to personal preference—there are plenty among us who quite like the radio, and even more who just don’t really see the attraction of playing their own music wherever they go. After all, driving in silence on a rainy evening is one of life’s simplest pleasures.

While many cars already feature an aux cord, some don’t. You should consult the user’s manual to the new car you’re thinking about purchasing to make sure. In the end, though, if it doesn’t include an aux cord and you’re sure you’ll use one, go ahead and buy it. If you’re not going to use it, it’s just not worth the expense—and at any rate you can always buy a specific cord if you ever feel like you might want to use one later on. You don’t have to buy it at the dealership itself.

3: ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System)

Less to do with technology and more related to the mechanical aspect of the new car you’re thinking about buying, ABS is a system which automatically deploys the brakes to prevent them from locking up in treacherous conditions. As a standard safety feature that’s been high on the list of everybody’s priority list since their invention way back in 1929, ABS stands apart from many more bespoke safety features because of its ubiquitous potential to make life easier. You can’t tell when you’ll be in a situation where you’ll need to make use of it—and hopefully you never will be—but if you are, you’ll wish you had it.

Although most new cars produced these days come with ABS as a standard feature, if it’s not included in the car you’re looking at it is most definitely worth paying a little extra to have included. This is maybe the single most important extra on this entire list, simply for how much extra safety it grants you.

4: Extra Airbags

Airbags exist as standard safety features in just about all makes of care, but there aren’t always enough to account for a car full of passengers. If you ever find yourself in a crash, you’ll be glad you had the airbags, whether extra or just the standard amount, but if you don’t include the extras your passengers may find themselves short-changed in that most unfortunate of circumstances.

Dealers often push extra airbags if they think you’re likely to need them. To put it simply, the people who are going to get the most bang for their collective buck out of extra airbags ate those who frequently carry a lot of passengers. If you turn up with your wife and children to look at family-sized SUVs, you can bet that the salesman is going to pitch extra airbags to you—and if you regularly bring more passengers than just yourself, it’s probably best for you to go ahead and buy them. Similar to ABS, you don’t know when you might need it but you’ll be glad you have it if you ever do.

5: Satellite Navigation / GPS Systems

Barely anybody drives around these days looking at good old, pen-and-paper maps. Whether you’re getting into a taxi or whether you’re just trying to make it to the family barbecue, sat-navs are fantastic pieces of kit that are bound to help you out.

Which is not to say that we think you should tick this box on the catalogue of extras presented to you at the dealership. Although there’s no disputing their utility, the GPS systems included at purchase are usually an order of magnitude more expensive than aftermarket, third-party products, and there’s just no way to justify the added cost, especially when you consider how easy it is to install and operate these additional systems yourself at a later date. GPS is crucial, but you don’t need to buy it from the dealer.

6: Rear View Camera

Another feature that’s quickly becoming standard issue on newer makes of automobile, the rear view camera is a very useful little piece of kit that makes life a lot easier for all drivers, no matter how accustomed they are to dealing with the classic blind-spots that arise from the way the car is manufactured. Although some cars won’t need rear view cameras at all, other models have considerably worse visibility, and rear view cameras will prove a lifesaver in all kinds of different situations.

Whether or not this is an extra you’re going to want to include in your purchase of a new car is completely up to the precise model of car you’re trying to buy. Read up about the make online, and try to see what people who’ve already purchased it say about the necessity for rear view cameras. If it sounds like the car maybe doesn’t have the best visibility, it’s probably a good idea to include them in the list of extras. If, on the other hand, it doesn’t sound like visibility is a problem, there’s no reason to buy them whatsoever.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it: six extras you should either pay to include in your car or avoid at all costs. Rather than just present the additional features you should be considering buying, we thought it would be more helpful to also showcase some of the popular choices that dealerships try to foist upon you, but which nevertheless should be avoided no matter what.

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