When you go to a dealership to buy or lease a new car, you might be tempted to buy into certain extras that might add value to the car — but also cost to its final price tag. Should you pay extra for these items?
While not all of these extras are worth it, here are five add-ons that warrant careful consideration before you sign on the line and drive off the lot:
Tinted car windows can reduce glare, offer privacy, and block 99-percent of ultraviolet rays. If you want tinted windows as an add-on, you might appreciate the convenience of having the job done before you buy the car.
On the other hand, it might be better to skip it if the dealership does the tinting in-house. While it may cost more, taking your new car to a local tint shop will likely result in better quality. A high-quality tint job can cost around $200 to $400.
Nitrogen in the Tires
Some dealers will fill the tires of a new car with nitrogen rather than air. This can be beneficial because it’s less likely to leak. In addition, it may save you money down the road by extending the life of the tires and slightly reducing fuel costs. If these savings appeal to you, and if the dealership is offering free refills, this add-on might make sense. (Filling your tires with nitrogen can cost $3 to $10 per tire.)
You might want to steer clear of this add-on if getting your tires refilled with nitrogen regularly sounds like more hassle than shopping for new tires a bit sooner.
Upholstery or Paint Protection
Some dealers add interior and exterior protection together as a car “protection package,” which usually comes with a warranty. This typically includes a paint sealer applied on the exterior of the car to protect it from acid rain, bird droppings and salt from winter roads. It also includes application of a protective product on the interior. The price tag of these packages varies by dealer and product used. It’s wise to ask exactly what type of protection is applied to make sure it’s worth the cost.
You may want to consider this add-on if you’re set on keeping your car gleaming inside and out — or if you have kids or pets and want a little extra protection from messes and spills. If you live near the ocean, you might consider it since salt and humidity can corrode car paint.
A protection package typically costs $200 or more. It might not be for you if you’re laid back about minor cosmetic blemishes, tend to use vehicles gently, don’t drive a lot, or mainly use your car for business.
Some dealers install an aftermarket stolen-car recovery system, such as LoJack. This involves hiding a transceiver in the vehicle. If your car ever gets stolen, the manufacturer of the system can ping the device to find the car. In some cases, your auto insurer may offer a discount if you get one of these systems. LoJack has an MSRP of $695 — or $995 if you get the early warning system that alerts you if your car is moved without your key pass.
This might be a good option for you if you travel a lot, live in an area where car theft is common, or simply want peace of mind. It might be best to skip it if you park in an area with tight security or if your vehicle is already loaded with a vehicle communications system like OnStar.
Some dealers will inscribe the VIN number of the vehicle on the car windows at a cost of $150 to $300 or more. This can discourage theft — and make it easier to ID your car if it ever gets stolen. It can also snag you a car insurance discount. This add-on can make sense if you don’t mind paying for etching and just want it done for you.
It may be best to skip this add-on if you’d be willing to shell out $25 for a DIY etching kit and spend a few minutes doing the task.
While add-ons are not always worth the money, some extras are nice to have. And the good news? Just like every other aspect of buying or leasing a car, add-on price is negotiable. So, feel free to wheel and deal for your wheels.