Buying a new car is stressful. After you have negotiated the pricing minefield you then have to confront the most dreaded creature in the motoring world: the car salesman.
Not content with taking thousands of your hard-earned pounds, he’ll then try to scare you into buying half-a-dozen optional extras. You’re in a buying mood and want to treat your new car well, so get suckered into buying a stack of stuff that you just don’t need. A couple of months later you’ll be poorer and feeling like a chump, while your salesman is booking his fourth holiday of the year and arranging his next session on the sun bed.
Here is the BreakdownCover.org.uk Guide to the 8 New Car Options That You Really Don’t Need.
Gap Insurance pays you the difference between the value of your car at the time it’s stolen and the cost of buying a new car. The theory is if a customer’s car is stolen the insurance company will only pay its value at the time that it went missing – while the poor owner is faced with continuing to pay new-car-finance when they’ve only been given the cash to buy a second-hand car. Gap insurance pays the difference, allowing the customer to go into a showroom and buy a new example; hence the name.
Sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? But let’s think about it for a moment.
First of all, new cars are incredibly hard to steal. Car thieves are old-school and want to be able to jemmy or smash their way into your car, fiddle with the ignition wiring and drive off in blaze of tyre smoke. New cars aren’t like that and fight back much harder than older cars do. (If you own anything worth over £50k then car thieves get much more sophisticated and use laptops and scanners ‘cos they want to nick your wheels and take them to Romania…) If you want to check your car’s security features, Thatcham have a useful car search facility that lets you do just that.
Let’s assume that a thief has targeted your car and stolen it, though. At that point you are still paying finance on what is, effectively, a used car already, as you’ve already lost up to ten per cent of your car’s value when you drove it off the forecourt. So if your insurance company pays out enough for you to be able to buy a similar car of the same age and mileage then you haven’t lost anything extra, have you?
If you are still a bit edgy and don’t want to take the risk of not having gap insurance then for goodness sake don’t buy it from the main dealer; have a shop around on the Internet and buy from a reputable third-party company instead – you’ll save a bundle and still have the same protection.
There are various proprietary names for this treatment but they generally make the same claims: to protect your paintwork, keep it nice and shiny with no effort, and stop famine in third-world countries. The typical cost of this paintwork treatment is around £250-400 if you ask your dealer to apply it when you buy the car.
One of the best-known treatments is Autoglym Lifeshine. It’s a terrific product that works well – and a quick search of eBay will show that you can buy a complete kit to treat glass, paintwork and upholstery for about a tenner. The only thing that you won’t get is a warranty from the car dealership. Oh, and it’ll take you a couple of hours to apply it yourself.
Extended warranties cover mechanical breakdowns that occur after the car manufacturer’s warranty runs out. A typical example from a dealer will cost you £500 to extend your car’s warranty from 3 years to 5 years/100,000 miles. A similar warranty from a warranty company will cost you £300-400.
You can use this information to try and haggle the price down with your dealer until it is closer to the price that an independent company would charge. We’d take a car manufacturer’s warranty over an independent’s – IF everything else is equal. If it isn’t then you shouldn’t be afraid to go solo and buy your own.
Really, why would you buy mats from a main dealer? You can get the same mats from eBay or a marque specialist for half the price. Or haggle like a demon and get them thrown in for free.
Not really an option but a money pit nonetheless, so we thought that we’d thrown it in for free.
Part exchanging your old car when you buy a new one is nice and easy, isn’t it? All you’ve got to do is drive it in, sign some paperwork, and drive out with your new one. No hassle, no pesky buyers insulting you with low offers, and no charges to advertise your car.
All of these are very real benefits – but you’ll pay for them. The price that you’ll get for your car as a part-exchange will always be lower than you would get for it if you sold it privately.
Some car manufacturers offer great deals; zero percent finance over four years is quite common if you have a hefty deposit – but if you need to borrow more than that then it pays to shop around because you’ll rarely get the best finance deal with the dealer.
As with most of our optional extras, you can normally save a bundle by shopping around and arranging it through someone else.
Sat-nav is practically essential these days – but you’ll pay through the nose for it if you buy it as an optional extra. Consider the maths; you can buy a very good portable sat-nav for under £200 while a MD might charge you over £1,000. Upgrades (to keep your sat-nav up to date when roads change, for example) will cost hundreds of pounds too and might need to be done every couple of years.
You might think that having sat-nav as a fitted extra will boost your car’s resale value when you come to sell it, but, as the song says, it ain’t necessarily so. What Car? claim that for most cars it won’t make much of a difference, if any. The only cars that buyers want to see it on when they buy them second hand are luxury and executive models.
Portable models are cheap and often provide a better service than a fitted unit; just have a look at car road tests and see how often the sat-nav comes in for criticism…
Some dealers still offer to etch your car’s registration number onto all of your car’s windows for £100 or so, claiming that it makes your car less attractive to a thief.
Remember, most new cars are very secure and hard to steal and so most that are stolen are taken to order, often for sale abroad. When they move abroad they often don’t even bother to change the number plates, much less worry about whether the windows are etched or not…
In closing, while car options may seem like a good investment, it’s important to consider if they are truly necessary. With the cost of options adding up quickly, it’s crucial to prioritize your needs and budget when making your next car purchase. Remember, a car’s primary function is to get you from point A to point B, so focus on the basics and don’t let the bells and whistles distract you. Happy car shopping!