bonked producer

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If you’re buying a new car, there is one thing you absolutely must NOT do: do not, under any circumstances, agree to purchase any dealer installed options. Let me quickly point out that I’m not referring to items like spoilers or audio equipment, although you ought to be careful there as well. I’m referring to dealer options like…

…paint sealant, undercoating, or fabric/stain guard. Let’s take a quick look at these options:

Paint Sealant

Using a polymer paint sealant is a wonderful idea; I’ve written about it here. The problem with the dealer option is that they’ll want to charge you $300 – $500 for paint sealant. This option costs them less than $20. As I point out in the article linked to above, you can buy everything you need to seal your paint for ~$45, and have enough material to last several years. Please don’t do this. Bring the car to a qualified auto detailer or do it yourself. Savings: $250 to $400

Undercoating

Whenever I hear a dealer speak about undercoating, I feel as though I’ve somehow traveled back in time. Undercoating was something we considered 30 years ago. Modern vehicles typically come with extensive warranties with regard to rust-through. For a dealer selling such a car to suggest undercoating is ludicrous. Please don’t fall for this. Savings: $200 to $300

Fabric Guard

Dealers will also try to sell you on a fabric guard or stain protection for your interior for up to $500. All the dealer does is apply 3M Scotchguard® to the cloth interior; their cost is $10-$20. If you want to protect your cloth interior, go to an auto parts store and buy a can or two of Scotchguard® an apply it yourself. Savings: $475+

Other thoughts…

Dealers will also try to sell pinstriping, clear bras, and other add-ons. Proceed VERY carefully when it comes to any dealer installed option. Clear bras offer a great deal of protection to the paint on your vehicle’s hood, and (depending upon what you opt for) front bumper & outside rear view mirrors. From personal experience however, I can tell you that the typical car dealer is not a philanthropic enterprise and they will mark up items like clear bras tremendously. Look around for a reputable installer and have the work done yourself!

Consumer Reports’ Opinion on Dealer-Installed Options

Here’s what CR had to say about these types of options:

Guide to Buying and Leasing
Q: Why should I reject extended warranties, rust proofing, fabric protection, “pre-delivery inspection” charges, and the like?
A: They are generally worthless or overpriced, particularly for vehicles that have a high reliability Rating.

Whatever you do, please avoid these sorts of ripoffs from your friendly neighborhood auto dealership. Save your money – or use that cash to increase your down payment!

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