What Aftermarket Products are Actually Worth it when Buying a Car?
There are two major types of aftermarket products that can be added to whatever car you purchase. One set of aftermarket products are those offered by the dealership where you’re buying your car, the cost of which are typically rolled into your finance contract. The other kind of aftermarket products are all the different things you can buy on your own to personalize your vehicle or improve it to your liking. We’ll take a look at both kinds of aftermarket products to identify ones we think can be worth it and those that are a waste of your hard-earned money.
Aftermarket Products that Might be Worth it
In the first part of this article, we’ll cover various aftermarket products typically offered to you by the dealership at the time of purchasing your car. These may or may not be worth it depending on your specific situation and needs.
- GAP Insurance: Yes, GAP insurance is always worth it, even if you never need it. If something happens to your car and it’s a total loss, what the insurance company is going to pay out to you is the fair market value of the vehicle. If you financed your purchase and are still paying on your loan, you might be “upside down” or “underwater” on the loan, which means you owe more on the loan than the car is worth. GAP insurance (guaranteed asset protection) is what will cover that difference or gap. It’s a smart choice to add on. It’s typically not very expensive, but you also don’t have to buy it through the dealership. You can line it up on your own with any number of companies.
- Extended Warranty: If you’re buying a new car or a newer used car that still has factory warranty left on it, you can pay to have that manufacturer’s warranty extended. If it’s a good warranty to begin with, this might be worth it. But they can be very pricey. If you choose a highly reliable car to begin with, the money you would spend on an extended warranty would be better spent making sure you have all the regular service and maintenance performed on the vehicle, which ought to be enough to keep it running smoothly for many years.
- Service Contract: A service contract is similar to but different from a warranty. It’s a kind of mini-insurance policy that can help take the sting out of unexpected or costly repairs when they come up. Just make sure you get the details on what it will cost, what’s covered, if there are deductibles, and so forth.
- Paint Protection: This is generally not worth the expense for older used cars or cheaper new cars. But if you are buying a high-end luxury, performance, or classic car with an amazing paint job, then you probably should go for this.
- Theft Protection: This is a little bit depressing, but the plain fact of the matter is that a car is stolen every 24 seconds in the US. Ouch! Plans vary, but the idea in general is that your car is marked with special small decals and etchings that not only make car thieves think twice about stealing your car, but also help law enforcement track it down and return it to you. It might also include a cash benefit (such as up to $5,000) to help you pay insurance deductibles, cover some of the costs of buying a replacement vehicle, and paying off what you may still owe on your car loan. Depending on how confident you are that your car won’t be stolen (something everyone wants to believe), this can be an added level of security that is worth the cost – especially if you live in a high-crime area where cars get stolen all the time.
- New-Tech Add-Ons: If the car you’re purchasing is used and lacks some of the newer technologies, you’d be surprised how many can be added to your car at affordable prices – heads up displays, rearview cameras, tire pressure monitoring and much, much more. Check out our previous article on this topic: Adding New-Car Tech to Your Ride.
Don’t Waste Your Money on These Aftermarket Products
Those are the basic set of aftermarket products that may or may not be worth it based on your needs. But there are a bunch of truly useless aftermarket products people keep buying for the vehicles, and in some cases they do more harm than good!
- Rustproofing: Newer cars are already rust-proofed. You do not need to have any kind of undercoating done on your car unless it’s older. In fact, having it done on newer cars can cause your factory corrosion-perforation warranty to be voided! If you buy into some kind of “environmental protection package” with paint and upholstery protection, some kind of undercoating treatment might be part of the deal. Just say no!
- Spoilers: Some high-performance cars need rear spoilers to keep them under control. If your car doesn’t come with a spoiler, then it doesn’t need one. Resist the temptation to add one because you think it’ll look cool. All you’ll be doing is unnecessary damage by installing it – and if it’s not installed well, it might get torn off in the car wash, doing even more damage!
- Aluminum stem caps: This is one of those aftermarket products that does more harm than good. They might look nice, but the stem caps on your tires are plastic for a good reason. The air stem itself is made of brass. In a humid environment, the aluminum and brass can oxidize, thereby fusing the stem caps in place, in which case you’ll find adding air to your tires pretty much impossible. A $5 purchase ends up costing quite a lot to repair when it goes sour.
- Light bars: Those light bars that get put onto the front of manly pickup trucks can cost you a few hundred dollars. They do look awesome and can be seen from really far away. They can also blind oncoming traffic and might even be illegal in your state or locality.
- Fuel additives: There’s an impressive array of these in every auto parts store, but beyond a couple standout products to help clean fuel injectors, most of them are a total waste of money.
- Window tints: This is another one where you need to check your state and local laws before dishing out significant sums of money. In many places, your front windshield and your front driver-side window have to more on the clear end of the spectrum than tinted.
At Auto City, we offer GAP insurance, service contracts, theft protection, and our Express 5 package to cover dents/dings, windshield repair/replacement, key/remote replacement, tires/wheels replacement, and 24/7 roadside assistance. All of these aftermarket products offered by Auto City help protect your purchase and are optional, so you should never feel obligated to buy them unless you really think they will meet your needs. Our no-pressure approach to aftermarket products is just one of the many ways we do things differently at Auto City. Learn more about the Auto City Advantage!