When purchasing a brand-new car, you often have the ability to customize the vehicle with optional features, like VIN etching or fabric protection. There are several types of options available, depending on when and where the features were added. The three main types of options are:
- Factory-Installed: These options are installed at the factory before the car makes it to the dealership.
- Port-Installed: On vehicles imported from overseas, these options are installed as the vehicle arrives at its port of entry.
- Dealer-Installed: The dealer installs these options after the vehicle arrives on the sales lot.
You might not be able to tell which options are installed by the dealer and which are installed by the factory. You can find this information by looking at the car window sticker. The official window sticker doesn’t usually list dealer-installed options.
If the car includes dealer-installed options, the dealer might add a second sticker listing them. This label usually lists the price of each dealer option, as well as the total price of the car with all the options included.
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Difference Between Factory Options and Dealer Options
There are a few differences between factory options and dealer options. Factory-installed and port-installed options are approved by the auto manufacturer and listed on the official window sticker that all new cars have. The manufacturer’s warranty also covers them. The manufacturer decides the price of these options so it’s standard across all dealerships.
Dealer-installed options, however, do not need the manufacturer’s approval, so they aren’t included in warranties. The price of these options differs from dealer to dealer, and the dealership uses them to make more profit when they sell the car.
Can You Turn Down Dealer-Installed Options?
You can always ask the dealer to remove certain dealer-installed options and deduct the cost of these options from the vehicle’s price. However, the dealer doesn’t have to do that.
Plus, you can’t remove some dealer-installed options, such as rustproofing. It still doesn’t hurt to ask the dealer to remove the charges for these unwanted options but know that it’s not a guarantee.
If you aren’t willing to pay what the dealer is asking, you have a few options. You can try to negotiate for a lower price or walk away from the sale. You can also ask the dealer if they have other models in stock that don’t include dealer-installed options, which probably have a cheaper price tag.
Are Dealer Options Worth It?
Some dealer add-ons do nothing but increase the dealership’s profits, but others do add monetary value to your vehicle, especially when it’s time to trade it in. Dealer options can also extend the life of your vehicle. Here are some of the most common dealer options.
Rustproofing is one of the most popular dealer options. However, dealer-installed rustproofing is unnecessary and might even void the section of the manufacturer’s warranty that covers corrosion damage.
Manufacturers add high-quality rustproofing at the factory, so the dealer doesn’t need to add another coat. Watch out for dealers offering “environmental protection packages” that include rustproofing, paint sealing, and soundproofing.
While an extended warranty can come in handy if something goes wrong with your vehicle, it’s better to purchase one from the manufacturer as opposed to the dealer. Also, you don’t have to buy an extended warranty on the same day you purchase your car.
You can buy an extended warranty from the dealer or a third-party company right before your regular manufacturer’s warranty expires. Dealer warranties often leave out the parts and systems that are most likely to break down and usually cost more to fix.
While it’s always a good idea to protect your new car’s upholstery from stains, you can usually handle the task yourself with a bottle of Scotchgard.
It’s a much less costly solution than spending hundreds of dollars at the dealership. Many modern vehicles have fabrics that are easy to clean and resist stains, so you probably don’t need fabric protection in the first place.
This is another favorite, yet unnecessary add-on dealers like to sell. If you wash your car regularly, your car’s paint job should last a long time. Most paint protection packages are only guaranteed for a certain period of time, like five years. Waxing your car will also protect the paint and costs much less than what the dealer charges for paint protection.
With VIN etching, the dealer burns the VIN into one of the car’s windows, as extra protection against theft. Before you purchase this option, see if your insurance company offers a discount for cars with VIN etching.
Keep in mind that you can do it yourself with a less costly etching kit. Some insurance companies will do it for free.
Key Fob Replacement
If your car has keyless entry, you might be able to purchase insurance to cover the cost of a lost key fob. These fobs can be pricey to replace, so this add-on might be worth it for some people. Before you purchase key fob coverage, see if your insurance company covers key fob replacement if yours gets lost or damaged.
Nitrogen in Your Tires
Some dealers like to tout the fact that nitrogen seeps out of tires at a slower rate than air. Also, temperature changes have less effect on nitrogen. However, if you’re not competing in a NASCAR race, you likely don’t need nitrogen in your tires.
The extra pound of pressure that nitrogen provides will make no difference in how your tires wear. If you still want nitrogen in your tires, the local tire shop will probably charge you far less than you’ll pay the dealer.
Dealer options can make your driving experience more enjoyable and improve the value of your car, but they come with a price. Determine which ones you need and don’t need before agreeing to these add-ons when you purchase a new vehicle.
Finance & Insurance Editor
Elizabeth Rivelli is a freelance writer with more than three years of experience covering personal finance and insurance. She has extensive knowledge of various insurance lines, including car insurance and property insurance. Her byline has appeared in dozens of online finance publications, like The Balance, Investopedia, Reviews.com, Forbes, and Bankrate.