Those Little Extras with the Big Markups
For the dealer, profits can vary greatly on the particular models they sell. The question is, how can they turn a good profit on each and every vehicle they sell? By promoting the extras -- like extended warranties, rustproofing, and sealants for paint and fabric. Granted, none of these are a bad thing. But should you pay extra for them? Many people do, but their usefulness can be considerably less than the purchase price.
The reliability of new cars these days is far ahead of vehicles even a decade ago. Still, the dealer may strongly recommend an extended warranty that covers various components. Be aware, however, that not all such warranties are created equal. Before signing up, determine the following:
Is the insuring company insured? That is, will someone still honor your policy if they went bankrupt? Is the policy transferrable if you sell your car? What is the deductible on the plan? Exactly which parts are covered by the plan and what are the stipulations? Many standard car warranties these days provide coverage to 70,000, even 100,000 miles. Do you plan to keep the car long enough to get some use out of the warranty, or are you even paying twice for the coverage provided by your standard warranty? If you decide you want this coverage, feel free to shop around for it - you may find a better policy from another provider.
Modern technology has also provided us with cars that hold up better to rust. In the end, rust will probably win, but quite possibly long after you've traded the car. Today's cars of galvanized steel (even plastic!) come with generous "rust though" warranties, in the event that inner rust comes through to the outside of your car. Some would argue that a rustproofing job can make a car rust even faster with all the drilled holes necessary to spray the coating through the body. Rustproofing isn't as common (or necessary) as it used to be, and typically a high markup service performed by the dealer.
Most all of us want to keep that new car look and feel long after our cars are really new, but are paint and upholstery sealants the answer? It's hard to tell. Again, advances in painting processes and materials have made new car finishes and interiors tougher. But if your car sits out in harsh sun or punishing winters, a sealant may help some. So would a good old-fashioned coat of wax once or twice a year, at a fraction of the cost. And certainly no seat is immune from a nasty tangle with a chocolate bar or ice cream cone. A sealant would help in the cleanup, but you'd probably get the same protection if you went out and bought a can of fabric protectant for under $10 and sprayed it on yourself.
The bottom line is this - Many products serve to protect the sizeable investment you have in your car, but there's usually no need to pay high prices for them - especially if they already come with the car, or can be done inexpensively on your own.