How To Spot and Avoid Expensive New Car Extras
You’ve saved up and can finally afford a new car. But before you ever set foot on a lot or in a showroom, you need to prepare. Along with not forgetting to budget in the taxes and registration fees, you need to protect your hard-earned cash against expensive new car extras.
Here are some recommendations on how to spot and avoid expensive new car extras.
First, you need to understand that unless you’re dealing with a small, local car lot, car sales are all set up similarly. The main players in the automotive sales game are dealerships. Dealerships are divided into departments, usually four of them: sales, service, parts, and finance. Although they all work together, the departments have different functions and each has their own sales goals to meet.
This is paramount to understand before you ever begin negotiating the price of a vehicle. When you negotiate, you’re talking to the sales department. It’s their job to sell you on the car. It’s also their job to get as much for the vehicle as they possibly can. Despite appearances, the sales department may make only a slim margin of profit on the sale of the vehicle itself. Sometimes they make no profit at all. That’s why you may not see them adding in freebies like fabric protection, paint protection, or even floor mats. They have to charge you for them. Those aren’t their department, and they aren’t free. Someone has to foot the bill somewhere.
This is why the price you see (or negotiate) isn’t necessarily the final price you’ll pay. It’s common for dealerships to encourage you to add-on extras after you’ve already negotiated the price of the vehicle. Of course, you can always say no but typically, you’ve already negotiated for a while and are wearing down. But they are still expected to pitch you to buy from their other departments. The “extras” sales discussion may be conducted by the sales department or the finance department. It depends on the dealership’s sales flow and your financial situation.
Some extras you might be “encouraged” to add-on before the sale is final:
Theft protection and car alarms.
Underbody protection (coating).
Financing and finance charges.
Upgraded rims and wheels.
Window VIN etching.
Other luxury additions or personalization.
Extra key fobs.
Nitrogen gas in your tires.
Built-in entertainment systems.
How you can be prepared
With such a lengthy list of possible extras that can blow your budget in minutes, what should you do? Be prepared. Know exactly which upgrades or add-ons you want and what they will cost from another source, such as a detailing shop, your own insurance company, your own bank or personal line of credit, and more. Research them and make yourself a cheat sheet. Many extras you either don’t need at all or can save a ton of money buying elsewhere. Once you have this information, it may shock you to see the markup dealers place on extra products and services.
Now that you know exactly what you want and how much it should cost, you’re in control. You’re finally ready to begin negotiating. Never wait to question extras or simply expect them to be included or you could be in for a big shock. Remember, car dealerships spend time and invest money to make vehicles look as attractive and optimized as possible. They will show cars with premium floor mats and the upgraded wheel package, for example. Those are either going to be built into the price or stripped from the vehicle. This is where you can save some money and avoid surprises.
Question every line item and what, precisely, is included in the total cost they are quoting you. Don’t settle for a blanket “everything you see” answer. Because you may not necessarily want or even need “everything you see”. Insist they break it down and remove any added expenses and features you don’t want at all or plan to buy cheaper elsewhere. Even if the model you’re looking at has some things built-in, dealerships can get you an almost identical vehicle that doesn’t have all those bells and whistles.
One last tip: Never ask dealerships to throw anything in free after you’ve already agreed to the price. Salespeople hate that. They might agree because they feel pressured but it’s bad form. Avoid this in the first place by not agreeing until you’ve remembered and discussed every extra.