After spending hours at the dealership, you've finally chosen the make, model, and trim of your new car. Just as you're ready to complete the purchase, the salesperson whips out a big binder of dealer add-ons with everything from a vehicle alarm system and window tinting to a rear seat entertainment system and paint protection. Car salespeople upsell these accessories because the dealership makes good profits off them. That's not to say you should pass on every single add-on, but many can be purchased and installed after the fact at a fraction of the price. We say, skip these 5 expensive dealer add-ons and go with an affordable DIY solution.
1. Roof Rack: Universal Roof Crossbars
Roof racks are popular dealer add-ons that tempt SUV shoppers who live active lifestyles. If you fall into this group, you know the importance of a quality roof rack that securely holds bikes, skis, or camping gear in place while you drive to your destination. The cost of a factory roof rack with installation can reach $500 at the dealership, but SUV owners can accomplish the same goal with side rails and a universal roof crossbar set like the Cargolot ($50). Made from a rigid aluminum body that's lightweight yet strong, the crossbars can hold up to 150 lbs of gear like a mountain bike or kayak. To secure your items, the crossbars feature a heavy-duty clamping system that fastens the bars to a vehicle's existing side rails and locks them in place.
2. Paint Protection: Car Wax Kit
Before the salesperson will let you drive off in your shiny new car, he will undoubtedly try and sell you on the dealership's paint protection treatment that "will keep your car looking shiny and new for years". The problem? The paint protection add-on can set you back as much as $1,000. We suggest you put that money towards your car's down payment and go with a quality car wax kit like CarGuys Liquid Wax ($25). With a little elbow grease and just one or two applications a year, you'll achieve the same glossy result without breaking the bank.
3. Fabric Protection: Scotchgard
After you decline the paint protection add-on, you can expect the salesperson will offer fabric protection for your vehicle next. "What if you spill coffee in your brand new car? What if your dog gets a little too excited on your road trip?". With a cost of around $100, you can confidently forgo this add-on because the same car fabric protection can be achieved with a can of Scotchgard ($13 for a 2-pack). Simply spray the solution onto your car's fabric seats, floor mats, carpets, trunk, or carpeted cargo spaces to protect them from water-based spills. Apply twice a year to keep the interior looking as good as the day you bought your vehicle.
4. Rear Seat Entertainment: Headrest Tablet Mount
A rear seat entertainment system is a brilliant way to keep kids occupied (and more importantly, quiet) in the car. You're tempted to just add this feature to your new car purchase at the dealership since the peace and quiet is priceless, right? Not so fast. A factory rear seat entertainment system costs anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, but as long as you have an iPad handy, you can keep your rear seat passengers content for much less. A simple tablet holder like the Jarv Premium Car Headrest Tablet Mount ($30) easily mounts to the front seat headrest and fits all tablets, laptops, or hybrid PCs between 7"-15". Your kids will have their favorite shows and games at their fingertips, and you can put the $1,970 you just saved towards their college fund.
5. Dealership Appearance Package: Pinstriping Tape
Small details can make all the difference in a car's appearance, but the dealership's "Appearance Package" which sells for as much as $300 may be nothing more than pinstriping. If you want to give your car some extra flair, you can do it for a fraction of the price by buying pinstriping tape yourself and having a professional apply it for as little as $50. The PME Pinstriping tape ($11) comes in 8 different colors from classic 'pure white' and black, to eye-catching red and yellow for a bold statement. The tape is easy to cut and apply so you can choose to do it yourself and save a few extra bucks.
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