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Don't Get Sucked Into the Extras

It's one thing to pay for required costs above the vehicle purchase price, such as taxes, registration, licenses and destination charges. But closely consider the costs and benefits of add-ons you don't have to pay for: delivery, promotion, handling, sales charges, floor charges or new-car prep fees. Avoid clear coating, etching, rust undercoat, alarm systems, and cleaning fees. These are big profit items for the dealer, but you don't need them.

Carefully consider an extended warranty or service contract. These products cover repair costs for a pre-determined time period after the manufacturer's factory warranty expires. As a rule service contracts are sold by independent companies and extended warranties are offered by the auto makers themselves. Both are touted to help buyers avoid the financial impact of expensive repairs. The added cost of these protection plans varies from make and model, it is important that you weigh these options or extras carefully. You should do your homework long before you visit the dealer’s showroom.

Many warranties are limited to specific types of repairs and mechanical areas of the car like the engine, transmission and rear differential, known as the power train. Some vehicle parts are excluded like the brake control systems, steering components, and climate and control units. You should consider a comprehensive service contract or extended warranty that covers a wider range of repairs that extends coverage to the end of your financing.

You are required to maintain and service the vehicle according to the manufacturer's maintenance schedule to ensure you do not void the extended warranty and service contract agreements. Your dealership service department keeps an electronic record of all maintenance and repairs they perform, but if you choose to do the maintenance yourself you will need to keep receipts and a journal of repairs, including routine oil changes and other scheduled maintenance.

Don’t get sucked into paying for service contract extras that you would not normally use. For example some service contracts include things like free windshield wipers, or discounts on auto detailing or manufacturer promotional gear. These “deal sweeteners” are fluff, designed to bait you into a contract that will add to the cost of your car and the associated finance charges. You should only consider these added sweeteners if you would normally use these products. Many people do not end up taking advantage of the products and regret their decision later.

Many vehicle owners like to add performance enhancing products like suspension lifts, exhaust systems, and electronic chips. Be sure to check with your dealership before making modifications, as some modifications may void your warranty.

No matter what you decide to do, it is very important that you do your homework and research the costs and benefits of any add-ons or extras. Not all extended warranties and service contracts are created equal.

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