What truly distinguishes one car from another, and impacts your enjoyment it, are the options included in it. A “fully loaded” car that has heated leather seats and a built-in back massager, for example, is a lot more comfortable and fun to drive than a “basic model.” Only having AM/FM radio and cloth seats is a bit of a let down.
However, many of the options available these days are merely “nice to have” items. In reality, a lot of them are completely unnecessary. The multiple options pitched by salesman can also be incredibly overpriced. In fact, you might be shocked to learn what some of even the most basic upgrades actually cost. Here’s a list of 10 of the most overpriced car options.
10. Satellite Radio: $500 – $600
Satellite radio is nice and offers a lot more entertainment than traditional AM/FM radio. With satellite radio you get tons of sports, news channels, tailored music stations, and even Howard Stern. Is it really worth $500 though? Plus, you need to consider that you will have to pay an annual fee to keep the satellite radio activated in your car.
Over time, that adds up and it can be a hefty expense for some temporary entertainment when commuting back and forth to work. Consider that a satellite radio receiver can also be installed after you purchase your car for about $200, and that local AM/FM radio is free. You can see how satellite radio is a pricey option when purchased from the car dealership.
9. Remote Car Starter: $750 – $1,000
A remote starter can be nice in the winter. Who wouldn’t want to start their vehicle early and let it warm up before climbing in? However, a remote car starter serves no practical purpose for most of the year. Yet it’s a common vehicle option. Plenty of people opt for the convenience of starting their car by pushing a button on the key fob.
However, most car dealerships charge around $750 for a remote car starter. Some dealers charge as much as $1,000. That’s pretty darn expensive! Especially when you consider that you can get a remote car starter at Walmart for as little as $40. Even a high-end remote car starter that includes an alarm system can be bought at Walmart for less than $150. That’s a big price discrepancy for a remote car starter that has no impact on the operation of a vehicle.
8. Rustproofing: $1,000 – $1,200
Every new vehicle has excellent rustproofing, and most are undercoated when they leave the factory where they were assembled. That hasn’t stopped many dealerships from trying to sell their customers on rustproofing as an extra “option.” Plenty of folks have been convinced to pay extra in order to keep their new vehicle from turning into an unsightly rust bucket.
Dealers are happy to charge upwards of $1,200 for this completely fabricated and unnecessary service. Do yourself a favor and just say no to this option. Keep in mind that if you really want to get your car rustproofed or undercoated, it typically costs $200 at a local garage. The mark-up on this option is outrageous.
7. Bluetooth: $1,200 – $1,500
If there is one place where hands-free Bluetooth is valuable, it’s while driving a car. The ability to make phone calls and issue commands to your phone with your voice can be a true safety feature. However, this luxury may not be worth it when you consider that most car dealerships charge as much as $1,500 for the Bluetooth option they sell.
A high-end Bluetooth system for a vehicle can be bought at most electronics stores for less than $200. When it comes to this option, best to tell the car salesman “No, thanks.” Stick with the Aux cord for the same outcome, but much cheaper. Besides, most driving experts don’t recommend talking on the phone while driving at all — even if it is hands-free.
6. Cruise Control: $1,500 – $2,000
Often sold in tandem with Bluetooth, cruise control is an option that can serve a purpose. However, it usually only helps on long drives or exclusively when driving on highways. But for $1,500 to $2,000, cruise control is an option that most of us can live without.
Studies show that about half of motorists distrust cruise control. Many do not feel comfortable taking their foot off the gas while driving. The loss of control is apparently unsettling to many people. Studies also show that you are more likely to succumb to driver fatigue and fall asleep when using it. With so much at stake, it would be better for people to save some money and skip the cruise control option altogether.
5. DVD Player: $1,200 – $2,000
A DVD player is great for distracting kids on long road trips. But would you shell out $2,000 for one? That’s how much some dealerships charge to have a DVD player installed in one of their vehicles. The average price hovers around $1,200. That is still a big chunk of change, especially considering that a portable DVD player that comes with two screens costs roughly $100 at most retail stores.
We won’t even get into the fact that DVDs have become increasingly obsolete due to Blu-Ray discs and on-demand streaming. Plus, what parent isn’t sick of listening to the same movie play in their car over and over again? Sure, the kids can’t get enough of Frozen, but you sure can. If you don’t take long road trips in your car, is a DVD player something you’ll even use that often? Save the money and buy a tablet and some headphones for your kid instead.
4. Navigation System: $2,500 – $2,750
In the cosmic scheme of things, it was not that long ago that mankind was navigating his way from one destination to another by using the stars above. Oh, how far we’ve come! Today, it’s hard to imagine a time before we all used GPS to guide us from place to place. Car manufacturers know that GPS has become ubiquitous and essential for most car buyers. That’s why many offer the option of a GPS navigation system built into the vehicle’s infotainment system.
For the princely sum of $2,500, people can have the convenience of listening to their car bark out directions to them. That’s a pretty penny to pay for convenience. Especially when you considers that most cell phones today come equipped with free GPS, and that you can buy a current and reliable GPS device that you mount on the dash of your car from Best Buy for about $250. That’s 10 percent of the cost to have the car manufacturer install the GPS into the vehicle. Personally, we prefer the free cell phone GPS option.
3. Extended Warranties: $1,500 – $4,000
Seldom worth the paper they’re written on, extended warranties are always presented as an option when buying a vehicle — new or used. The price for an extended warranty can range from $1,500 to as much as $4,000, depending on the length of the warranty and the items it covers. If you’re buying a new or nearly new vehicle, then it will probably already be covered by a decent factory warranty. If you’re buying used, chances are the cost of an extended warranty will be more than any repair bills you encounter.
Extended warranties are famously and frequently not honored by dealers. They always find a way to wriggle out of doing the needed repairs for free. Most extended warranties require you to service a vehicle at the place where the warranty was purchased. If you miss a scheduled maintenance date, or get the oil changed somewhere else, and that extended warranty you paid for will be null and void.
2. Heated Seats: $2,500 – $3,000
We admit, you cannot buy heated seats for a car anywhere but from a car manufacturer. But let’s be honest. They are a pure luxury, having zero impact on a vehicle’s functionality. They are also completely unnecessary when you consider that you only use heated seats in the winter months. Also, your car has a heater that will blow hot air once the vehicle warms up, keeping all the occupants toasty in the process.
When you factor all those things in, and then look at the price tag for heated seats, it’s easy to file them squarely into the category of “overpriced.” We won’t mention that heated seats are only an option for the front seats and that the back seats aren’t covered, or that faulty heated seats have been known to burn people while driving. Wait! We just did mention those things. Oops.
1. Leather Interior: $3,000 – $4,000
Truth be told, a lot of people don’t even like leather seats in their vehicle. They find leather seats are too cold in the winter and too hot (and sticky) in the summer. Plenty of buyers still opt for a leather interior, though. When you consider that it costs $3,000 to $4,000 though, chances are you’ll agree with us that cloth seats will do just fine.
Really, dealers charge as much for leather car seats as it would cost to buy a leather couch set to furnish your living room. When you think about what else could you use that money for, shelling out big bucks for a leather interior just doesn’t seem worth it. Better to put that money towards paying off the car loan itself, if possible.