10 Dealer Add-Ons Worth Your Money & 10 That Aren't

10 Dealer Add-Ons Worth Your Money & 10 That Aren't

Let’s face it: car dealers aren’t exactly known for their integrity and charitable nature. So it’s best to take everything they tell you with a grain of salt, particularly when it pertains to upselling you on things you probably don’t need. But that doesn’t mean that every add-on a dealer offers you is completely useless — so here’s a handy list of 10 dealer add-ons that are worth your money and 10 that aren’t.

1. Extended Warranty

Although extended warranties often get a bad rap for being unnecessary, they actually can serve as a lifesaver in a number of situations. For the most part, an extended warranty will simply provide you with peace of mind (which is something you can’t really put a price on) — just make sure you fully understand what is and isn’t covered before you pay for it. 

WarrantthumbPhoto by Mick Haupt

2. Gap Insurance

Gap insurance — or “Guaranteed Auto Protection” — allows you to cover the difference between your debt and the actual cash value of your vehicle if it gets wrecked or stolen. If you have a long loan term or put up a small down payment, you’ll most likely benefit from gap insurance, making it a worthwhile consideration when buying a car. 

Scott-Graham-Oqmzwnd3Thu-UnsplashPhoto by Scott Graham

3. Paint Protection Film

This clear layer of paint is applied on top of your car’s paint job to protect it from chips, scratches, and stains. Although certainly not a necessary precaution, it is a worthwhile protective measure, especially if you often find yourself driving on highways or gravel roads. 

Clarity-Coat-Rsayn6Mq2Qo-UnsplashPhoto by Clarity Coat

4. Rustproofing

Depending on where you live, this add-on may prove to be essential in maintaining the look and longevity of your car. Areas that experience heavy snowfall or coastal regions are prone to high amounts of salt that can easily cause corrosion — if you live in a place like this, rustproofing is a must. 

Johannes-Plenio-8Ztopee77My-UnsplashPhoto by Johannes Plenio


5. Roadside Assistance

Another add-on that primarily affords you peace of mind, roadside assistance is a useful service that you can count on to provide you with towing, battery jump-starts, flat tire changes, or any other emergency mechanical service you may need. Affordable and practical, this is an add-on that you should strongly consider, especially if you drive long distances or in remote areas. 

Jamie-Street-Jtp Dqtz6D8-UnsplashPhoto by Jamie Street

6. Window Tinting

Along with aesthetics, window tinting also serves the purpose of keeping your car cooler in the summer, reducing glare, and providing extra privacy. Additionally, tinting can protect your interior and upholstery from UV damage, ultimately extending the life and value of your vehicle. 

1024Px-Tesla Tinted Windows 20 All AroundDimosca on Wikimedia Commons

7. Anti-Theft Devices

Not only will anti-theft devices provide you with an extra sense of security, but they can also lower your insurance premiums. Devices like an alarm system or a GPS tracker are indispensable tools in deterring thieves and keeping your car safe. In the long run, the added cost is well worth it. 

Erik-Mclean-Ik4Me3Agris-UnsplashPhoto by Erik Mclean

8. All-Weather Floor Mats

You must do everything you can to keep your car looking fresh and clean for as long as possible, especially the interior. By protecting your car’s interior from dirt, mud, and spills, all-weather floor mats will keep your car looking new for years to come, even if you have pets and kids. 

1024Px-Eva Car MatsEVACARMAT on Wikimedia Commons

9. Rearview Camera

Rearview cameras are an invaluable safety feature that certain countries have even begun to require in all new vehicles (Canada). They help with parking and reversing, as well as assisting drivers in larger vehicles to overcome blindspots — ultimately making driving much safer than it's ever been. 

1024Px-Infiniti Ex37 - Flickr - David Villarreal Fernández (11)David Villarreal Fernández on Wikimedia Commons

10. Dash Cam

Dash cams are a great feature to have in case of any accidents or disputes you encounter on the road. Having everything recorded will protect you against false claims meaning that you’ll have added peace of mind when dealing with any unwanted circumstances. However, they are affordable and easy to install, so getting one from the dealership may be unnecessary. 

Xingye-Jiang-Inucl7Ktjzc-UnsplashPhoto by Xingye Jiang


1. VIN Etching

A technique wherein your car’s vehicle identification number is engraved on its windows, VIN etching isn’t a compliantly frivolous add-on as it does provide an extra measure of deterrent against theft. However, the cost-benefit analysis of the whole ordeal makes it unnecessary, especially when many insurance companies offer the same service at lower cost or even free.  

EtchingMolly Treece on Wikimedia Commons

2. Fabric Protection

Although seemingly useful, this needess add-on doesn’t do much when most modern fabrics are already treated to protect against stains and spills. Even still, you can always buy fabric protector and apply it yourself for a fraction of the cost you would get at a dealership. 

Erik-Andersson-Cmpap7Ohfvc-UnsplashPhoto by Erik Andersson

3. Nitrogen-Filled Tires

Some dealers will give you the option of filling your tires with nitrogen as opposed to regular air. They claim that nitrogen is better at maintaining tire pressure, but these claims are dubious and overstated at best. Besides, you can always just check and adjust your tire pressure completely free of charge as you see fit.

Frank-Albrecht-Srpak3Tw6Lu-UnsplashPhoto by Frank Albrecht

4.  Satellite Radio Subscription

Dealers will often try to sell you on added subscription plans to satellite radio services. While this may sound tempting, satellite radio is well past its heyday. The novelty of the trend has worn off and rendered obsolete by cheaper and more robust streaming services that are available on your phone. 

Marilia-Castelli-2Wpvdl48Nso-UnsplashPhoto by Marília Castelli

5. Paint Sealant

Paint sealant is generally presented as a way to protect your car’s finish and keep it looking good, but regular waxing can do just the trick. Moreover, unlike paint protection film, sealant doesn’t do much in the way of actually protecting your car from physical damage, making it needless and pricey add-on. 

Darius-Cotoi-Uwzbj4Q3Ttu-UnsplashPhoto by Darius Cotoi

6. Key Protection Plan

This protection plan is meant to cover the cost of replacing lost or stolen keys, but it’s important to keep in mind how unlikely this scenario is. But worst of all, this plan is often more expensive than simply replacing the key if it does get lost or stolen. So better to just cross that bridge when you get to it rather than dishing out hard-earned money preemptively.

Syed-Hussaini-Iacenss9Jnu-UnsplashPhoto by Syed Hussaini


7. Wheel and Tire Protection

Unfortunately, the cost of these protection plans often outweighs any potential benefit, meaning you should think twice before coughing up extra cash for them. In reality, regular tire maintenance and preventive driving habits are more than sufficient to keep your wheels and tires safe. 

Chinmay-Jade-Xnn9C8Mg4Km-UnsplashPhoto by Chinmay Jade

8. Undercoating

This notorious dealership cash cow should have you running for the hills. Described as an extra layer of protection on your undercarriage to protect against rust and corrosion, this “add-on” is a completely redundant expense as most modern cars are already built with rustproof materials. 

Matthew-St-Amand-Tjztpnxjfhu-UnsplashPhoto by matthew st. amand

9. Dealer-Installed GPS

With the advent of modern smartphones and their included GPS functionality, dealer-installed GPS systems have become archaic and dispensable. Buying a standalone GPS (or simply using your phone) is not only less expensive but generally offers better functionality. 

Tobias-Rademacher-P79Nyt2Cuj4-UnsplashPhoto by Tobias Rademacher

10. Interior Lighting Kits

This fun but frivolous feature is simply not worth your hard-earned money. Although they do make for a more enjoyable aesthetic experience, interior lighting kits bought from a dealer are generally pricey and unwarranted. And if you do insist on having them, you’re much better off looking for aftermarket options elsewhere that will cost you a lot less. 

Dima-Pechurin-Zusjfpp2N3O-UnsplashPhoto by Dima Pechurin


Want to learn something new every day?

Unlock valuable industry trends and expert advice, delivered directly to your inbox. Join the Wealthy Driver community by subscribing today.

Thank you!

Error, please try again.