2 Extras to Get When Buying a Car + 11 to Avoid at All Costs

Updated on March 12, 2024

At a Glance

  • Consider valuable extras like extended warranties and gap insurance when buying a car.
  • Avoid unnecessary extras such as chrome rims, window etching, paint and fabric protection, rust proofing, key protection, nitrogen for tires, theft protection, tire and wheel protection, tire and wheel packages, roof racks, windshield protection, and rear-seat entertainment systems.
  • These extras may be unnecessary or available at a lower cost elsewhere.

Car dealerships are notorious for trying to convince customers that they need extras and add-ons for their car. Dealerships will offer customers a litany of potential features, and knowing which ones are worthwhile, if any, can be challenging.

This article explores all the different extras that you may be offered; which ones are valuable, and which ones to avoid no matter what. Read on so you are prepared when the time comes to purchase your car.

2 Extras to Get When Buying a Car

Many of the extras that dealerships offer you are unnecessary or won’t provide a decent return on what you spend. There are a couple of extras that can be valuable, however, and the following section explores these.

1. Extended Warranties

Perhaps the most popular add on when purchasing a car is an extended warranty. The relatively small cost of an extended warranty can generate huge savings in the future if you have car trouble. The value and necessity of an extended warranty depend on a number of factors, though.

First, you should investigate the existing warranty and find out what it covers and how long it lasts. If you are offered a standard warranty that lasts as long as you expect to have the car and has decent coverage, an extended warranty may be unnecessary. Then, inspect the terms of the extended warranty. If the length or coverage is much better than the standard, you should consider the extended warranty.

2. Gap Insurances

Like an extended warranty, gap insurance is an investment that can pay off in the event of an accident in the future. If you get in an accident and the actual cash value of your car is suddenly less than what you owe on it, gap insurance will cover the difference. If you have to borrow a large amount to pay for your car, having gap insurance can protect you if something happens to the car.

12 Extras to Avoid When Buying a Car

The useful and valuable extras you can get when buying a car are outnumbered by the unnecessary ones. This section explores a range of extras that dealers may try to convince you to buy — read first before purchasing!

1. Chrome Rims and Trim

Dealers often include extras like chrome rims and trim on the display vehicle without mentioning it. These extras are purely aesthetic; they don’t have any effect on the performance of the car. So, if you aren’t willing to pay a huge premium for a small improvement in appearance, make sure you ask the dealer to remove them.

2. Window Etching

You are told that etching the vehicle identification number on your window will prevent theft because thieves would have to change all of the windows. However, car thieves are unlikely to notice window etching in the first place, so the added cost will likely go to waste.

3. Paint and Fabric Protection

Paint and fabric protection can cost more than $1,000, with the claim that it will make your paint job and interior last longer. The paint and fabric can often last just as long without the protectant, though. Furthermore, the cost of repairing damages to your paint job or interior is likely less than what the dealer charges for protection. Save your money and just repair any damages that are incurred.

4. Rust Proofing

Despite what the dealer says, most cars come with high-quality rust protection already. Given the high cost of rust proofing treatments, you won’t suffer any loss skipping this extra.

5. Key Protection

Keys that fail due to electrical or hardware failure are typically covered under warranty, and some auto insurers provide key coverage for much less than dealerships. If you think you are unlikely to lose your key, you probably don’t need key protection.

6. Nitrogen for Your Tires

Nitrogen for tires is ideal for racing, but it costs $200-300 at dealerships and you likely won’t notice a difference in how the car handles or the tires wear. You can also often get a tire shop to put nitrogen in your tires for $10 or $20, a fraction of the cost at a dealership.

7. Theft Protection

Anti-theft packages vary in detail, but the fact is most new cars come with a built-in anti-theft system that will get the job done. Audio and electronics shops can do a better job of providing advanced protection if you need it, and at a better rate than a dealership.

8. Tire and Wheel Protection

Most automobile insurers will cover damage to tires and wheels, so getting tire and wheel protection from your dealer is probably unnecessary. Furthermore, you have to hope that the dealer is still in business years down the road when you may need to cash in your protection.

9. Tire and Wheel Packages

Dealers like to offer upgraded tire and wheel packages, and sometimes even just include them in the car without saying anything. If you don’t have the need for upgraded tires and wheels, make sure your car has the originals before you sign anything. If you want better tires and wheels, you can probably get more options and a better price from a tire shop.

10. Roof Racks

Whatever the dealer is charging for roof rack installment, there’s a good bet you can get a vastly cheaper rack at your local sporting goods store. Most stores will install them as well, and then you can easily move your rack to a different car.

11. Windshield Protection

Dealers sometimes claim that applying a coating to your windshield will make it more difficult to break. Whether or not this is true, broken windshields are uncommon and the cost of fixing them will probably be comparable or less than the cost of windshield protection anyway.

12. Rear-seat Entertainment Systems

Built-in entertainment systems are typically enormously expensive. Instead, buy a tablet or a laptop and your passengers can get the same level of entertainment without the huge cost.

Read More


While there are a few extras that may be worthwhile, most of the features that dealers try to convince you to buy are overly expensive and unnecessary. If you let the dealer talk you into protection packages and add-ons, there’s a good chance you will spend more than the coverage will ever save you. Instead, keep your money and just put it towards any car needs that come up.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Are Important Factors to Consider When Buying a Car?

  1. Budget: Determine your budget, including the total cost of ownership, not just the purchase price.
  2. New vs. Used: Decide whether a new or used car suits your needs and budget better.
  3. Vehicle Type: Consider the type of vehicle that fits your lifestyle (SUV, sedan, truck, etc.).
  4. Fuel Efficiency: Evaluate fuel efficiency, especially if you plan to drive long distances regularly.
  5. Reliability and Maintenance Costs: Research the car’s reliability and average maintenance costs.
  6. Insurance Costs: Look into insurance premiums for different models before making a decision.
  7. Resale Value: Consider the car’s resale value, as some models depreciate faster than others.
  8. Safety Features: Prioritize safety features and check the vehicle’s safety ratings.
  9. Test Drive: Always test drive to assess the comfort, handling, and performance of the car.
  10. Warranty and Service: Understand the warranty coverage and service options available.

How Do I Determine the Right Budget for Buying a Car?

To determine the right budget, consider your monthly income, expenses, and savings. Factor in not only the purchase price or monthly payments but also insurance, maintenance, fuel costs, and potential loan interest.

Should I Buy a New or Used Car?

The decision to buy new or used depends on your budget, preference for the latest models and technology, tolerance for potential repairs (more common in used cars), and depreciation considerations.

What is the Best Way to Research a Car’s Reliability?

Research a car’s reliability by consulting consumer reports, reading owner reviews, checking reliability ratings from reputable automotive websites, and discussing with mechanics or knowledgeable individuals.

How Can I Check a Used Car’s History?

Check a used car’s history by requesting a vehicle history report using the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) from services like Carfax or AutoCheck. This report provides details on past ownership, accidents, repairs, and maintenance history.

Is Fuel Efficiency a Major Factor to Consider?

Fuel efficiency is a major factor if you have a long commute or care about fuel costs and environmental impact. More fuel-efficient cars can save money in the long run and are often better for the environment.

How Much Should I Expect to Pay for Car Insurance?

Car insurance costs vary based on factors like your age, driving history, location, and the car model. Get insurance quotes for different models to compare costs.

What Safety Features Should I Look for in a Car?

Look for safety features like airbags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), rearview cameras, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warnings.

How Important is a Test Drive?

A test drive is crucial to get a feel for the car, its comfort, handling, braking, and overall performance. It can also reveal any issues not apparent at first glance.

What Does a Car Warranty Typically Cover?

A car warranty typically covers defects in materials or workmanship for a specified period. It often includes powertrain warranties (engine, transmission) and may cover electronics and other components.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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