by: Kevin Ransom | AOL Autos

    Okay, you've decided what model of car you want to buy. And you know, more or less, how much you want to spend -- or how much you can afford. You've kicked tires, talked to salesmen, taken a few shiny new numbers for a test-drive and you're ready to make the deal.

    Except, you're not quite done. You still need to decide whether to buy any of those "extras" that your salesperson will always suggest. Some of these extras have real value and are probably worth adding. Others ... maybe not so much. The list of "extras" offered by most dealers, may include paint sealant, fabric protection/leather care, extended warranties, extended 'one price' service contracts, rust/underbody coatings and anti-theft systems, to mention a few.

    We wanted to know which of these new car extras were worth it and which ones a consumer can do without. To get to the bottom of it, we thought we would consult an expert -- David Bennett, Manager of Automotive Programs for AAA. As it turns out, like most things in life, the answer often just comes down to what's best for you, depending on your own situation, budget or locale.

    Let's address these add-ons one by one:

    Paint Sealant: "I think that most paint jobs on cars are pretty good these days, so in most cases you probably don't need that anymore," said Bennett, who offered one caveat. "But that can depend on what part of the country you live in -- what the climate is, whether you get a lot of snow and ice, and what the road crews put down on the road -- whether it is salt, or if it is something that is less harmful to the paint. But generally, as long as you keep your car washed, and wash that salt off of it, and get it waxed regularly, that paint should last without getting the 'add-on' sealer at the dealership. Also, if you get a chip or a ding, get it fixed so the rust doesn't get a chance to set in and spread."

    Fabric / Leather Protection: These extras are fairly self-explanatory -- the dealer "treats" the upholstered or leather seating with a "protection" product that make the seats more resistant to stains or scuff marks. "This can be a good purchase, but the first question you should ask before buying it is, 'What kind of lifestyle do I lead?' suggests Bennett. "Do you have a lot of kids and are they prone to spill things? Or is your vehicle mostly going to be occupied by adults?"

    Do you eat in the car with some regularity? If so, and you're just too darn messy for your own good, a stain protection might be a good way to go.

    "Also, look at exclusions in the plan," advises Bennett. "If you're a smoker, and the plan excludes burn holes from cigarette ashes, and you're not diligent about making sure your ash is always short, that might not be a good purchase because of that exclusion. Each of these policies or plans is probably offering something different, and you need to read all of the exclusions before making that purchase, because it might not be a good one for you."

    If you want to save some cash, one option would be to forego the protectant and just make sure you clean your seats regularly with a good upholstery cleaner or leather cleaner. To remove spots from a leather seat, use a good leather cleaner and work it into the spot with a soft cloth. If the spot still remains, let it sit for a few hours. Repeat, as they say, if necessary. It's also a good idea , to use a leather conditioner regularly on leather seats to restore moisture and to maintain its appearance.

    Rustproofing: This is when the dealership applies various rust-inhibiting chemicals, waxes or sealers to the vehicle's undercarriage. It can also be applied to other rust-prone areas. Rustproofing treatments sometimes include a guarantee over a certain number of years. Keep in mind that some guarantees require annual "checkups" to re-apply the sealers or rust inhibitors to any areas where the rustproofing may have been damaged.

    "I don't think this is necessary in most cases," opines Bennett. "The way most vehicles are constructed today, they are not nearly as prone to underbody rusting as they used to be in the old days -- even in the north, where they get a lot of snow."

    LoJack Car Security System / Anti-theft Systems: The folks at LoJack Car Security Systems report that a vehicle is stolen every 25 seconds in the U.S. Using a car alarm is one way to protect your vehicle. But if you want to go the more high-tech "tracking" route, using a security system like LoJack may give you more peace of mind. The LoJack System, includes a small radio frequency transceiver hidden in up to 20 different places in the vehicle. The System uses a code that is tied into the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

    Then, when you report that your car has been stolen, the state police crime computer can match code against the state VIN database. This automatically activates the LoJack System in the vehicle -- emitting an inaudible signal. Then, police cruisers and aviation units that have the LoJack tracking system can identify the vehicle's location, track it and recover it. LoJack claims that over 200,000 vehicles have been recovered worldwide using their system, with over 100,000 of those in the U.S.

    "Whether or not this is a purchase you should make depends on various factors. If you live in a high-crime area, a system like this could provide you with peace of mind," advises Bennett. "But even if you live in a safe, low-crime district, your car can still be stolen from a busy downtown street or parking garage," he notes.

    One caveat: Some car owners may not want their car back after it has been stolen, especially if it has been seriously vandalized, or if it has been driven so hard that it causes some mechanical problems.

    Another thing to consider is that owners of GM vehicles that come with its patented OnStar system, probably won't need a theft tracking program, says Bennett. "Because the system allows OnStar operators to track the location of the vehicle if it is stolen. So if you buy a GM car with the OnStar system, you may want to pass on a LoJack or similar tracking system."

    Extended Warranties: "This really does depend on how long you plan to keep the vehicle, because most of these extended warranty plans don't kick in until the manufacturer's warranty expires," advises Bennett. "And these days, those manufacturers warranties are three or five years, sometimes longer. "So if you plan on selling the car after three or five years, it probably doesn't make sense to buy the extended warranty."

    Some warranties offer transferable policies, which let you "sell" the warranty along with the vehicle. Others allow you to "return" the warranty for a pro-rated refund.

    Bennett also explains that not all warranties are created equal. "They usually have three levels of warranties: A basic extended warranty will just cover the powertrain, for example; while a better one will cover the powertrain plus some other components that are listed -- or an 'exclusionary' extended warranty may say it covers everything except those items that are listed. At the top end, the best warranty just covers everything, but that is also the most expensive."

    Bennett gives an example of one manufacturers warranty. "For a 2007 Buick, the basic manufacturers warranty is five years or 100,000 miles for the powertrain coverage, and the corrosion warranty is six years or 100,000 miles. In fact, that's the same warranty GM offers on their Chevy and Cadillac brands."

    "That's a pretty good warranty, so if you plan on only keeping your vehicle for five years or less, the extended warranty is probably money you don’t need to spend."

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    1 - 20 of 32 Comments
    tedthower Mar 21, 2011 11:16 AM
    A survey stats that 27% of parked vehicles have at least one door left unlocked. An alarm is necessary to minimize the car theft. Recently I read a good article from http://simplecaralarm.com/ will help you to know better about car alarms.
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    rcaguy1115 Nov 03, 2009 8:25 PM
    I went to a car dealer and the salesman wanted to sell me an extended warranty. Why do i need it for? So is the car no good then? I hate it when you go to stores as well {yes nothing to do with this just hear me out} and they sell extended warranties. The only problem with this is that the product already has lets say a year warranty and when you buy a 3 year warranty you have just bought 2 years instead of three. Isnt that just some bull-sh*** huh. Dont get scammed by dealers it is your money take good care of it. If you know that you will get a higher interest then the one you want then save up more money. Remember the more down payment you give the less you owe and the lest interests as well and that adds up at the end of the deal
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    duffylj Nov 03, 2009 8:22 PM
    Three tips from me - Extended warranties are one of the best value purchases I've made, I''ve purchased three and been ahead by far. Dealers do a good job looking for things wrong, as they can fix them and get paid by the warranty company. Nearing the end of the warranty period, get your car in with a wish list of what's wrong. I found that my 80,000 mile car ran like a top after that service! Regarding why buy a LoJack if the car has a system like Onstar - my understanding is near half of GM customers do not continue Onstar service after the free period; the service is pretty expensive. And like any GPS based system, forget about locating a vehicle that is indoors or in a container. Last, be sure to ask for a better price. Some dealers won't but most will,
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    duffylj Nov 03, 2009 8:22 PM
    Three tips from me - Extended warranties are one of the best value purchases I've made, I''ve purchased three and been ahead by far. Dealers do a good job looking for things wrong, as they can fix them and get paid by the warranty company. Nearing the end of the warranty period, get your car in with a wish list of what's wrong. I found that my 80,000 mile car ran like a top after that service! Regarding why buy a LoJack if the car has a system like Onstar - my understanding is near half of GM customers do not continue Onstar service after the free period; the service is pretty expensive. And like any GPS based system, forget about locating a vehicle that is indoors or in a container. Last, be sure to ask for a better price. Some dealers won't but most will,
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    tft460 Nov 03, 2009 7:50 PM
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    drbearphd Nov 03, 2009 7:30 PM
    Kevin, At least I can say with full confidence that this article has been at least written with some "form" of objectivity in contrast to the several articles by Royce. However, I am just wondering why it is so wrong for a Dealer to make additional funds on the back end when a customer is purchasing a vehicle. While we all know that there is no such thing as a free lunch I contend that as long as these ancillary products are disclosed to the consumer fully and they accept the purchase of the product fully there really should not be an issue here. This is the free market and capitalism expressing itself in its entirety. It is apparent that each time I read an article from AOL there is a negative slant made toward the car dealer. Why are you folks not reporting that the most often cited line in the ranks of the retail industry is: "All buyers are liars." While this may seem to be course, the reality remains and to tell you the truth I do not even see a problem with this. In addition, what one considers to be "shady," or opportunisitc the harsh reality is that in the retail automotive industry one can witness two dynamics at play. First, the consumer is, rightfully so attempting to get the absolute best deal he or she can while the Dealer is attempting to make the most profit possible. I mean hello? Car Dealerships are businesses and they are no different than any other type of business: they are attempting to make a profit. I just cannot understand for the life of me why AOL consistently bashes the car Dealer for doing what any other reasonable business would do if that particular organization found themselves in the same boat. I do not see the sin in this and quite frankly I really do not think the majority of people orginally do. Furthermore, the Manufacturer since the 9/11 "Keep America Rolling" campaign has literally given the vehicles they were selling away for a minimum of $3,000 to $5,000 off the price of the car. While this strategy admitedlly softens the sales teams inside the dealerships in essence the only way to bring the transaction to a profit is through the sale of products in the back end; much like you are referring to. Do you expect the Dealer to not make anything at all? Do you expect the nice facility along with the great experience without paying the price for such a transaction? It just seems that every time I read an article on this site it denigrates the dealer. What about writing an article to protect the dealer from the consumer who is trading a vehicle due to a previous "fender bender," while not disclosing that information to the Dealer. The harsh reality is simply this: Everyone, no matter who he or she may be is tempted by greed; including both you and me. So please allow the Dealers some slack here, okay?
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    goforit21g Nov 03, 2009 7:29 PM
    I just bought a car for my son at a big local dealer. Being a 4 yr, 40k mile car, a warranty sounded good, right? Well it covers EVERYTHING electrical, powertrain, you name it, jsut not wear-n-tear items; no problem. After taking the car in for a basic maintenance issue, plus the rear light needed replaced, the maintenance shop discovered thrut he warranty company that because the car has been modified (before we purchased it-----it why we purchased it----turbo with blo-off valves, etc., basically the warranty the dealer sold us is null and VOID for all the major items it covers. Paying 2400.00 with the loan, for it to cover just electrical now, is nonsense. So now I have to hagle with the finance guy who sold us this warranty (assuming he wasn't aware of the modifications) and get a refund. The warranty company said I should be able to get it refunded, pro-rated of course. And the issue with the rear tale light, somehow they said the car ********' and is why water got into the lamp and rusted the inside (no signs of a hit, tho the bumper was a centimeter off on the left) The warranty place won't replace a lamp. Be careful of these companies, just because they sound good, they are VERY PICKY with what they decide to repair!
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    dansfox Nov 03, 2009 7:28 PM
    To buy the paint sealant, rust proofing, and upholstery guard, you have to believe the dealer knows more about these things than the manufacturer --- not likely. When the dealer presses the extended warranty I always say "Are you getting a lot of claims with this vehicle? Maybe I should cancel the purchase. I don't want a lemon." Then the dealer tells me how reliable the car is and the insurance is just for "peace of mind." --- Skip it.
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    patmos316 Nov 03, 2009 7:26 PM
    hey kevin your last name proves the point i'd like to make. you tell people to refrain from an extended warranty if they plan on selling or trading it. few people know what or when they'll trade or sell their car. it all depends on the economy. also an extended warranty covers a free rental car if the vehicle is in service over 4 hours from the first day. i'd get a rug on that swollen head and get their extended warranty in care the nest blows off your head on a windy rainy day kevin. forever wrong kevin.
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    pd39 Nov 03, 2009 6:49 PM
    I bought a Caliber when they first came out, thinking it would be the last car I would need at my age. Following that line of thougt I paid for extras: LoJac, paint sealant, leather/fabric protection, undercoating, and extended warranty. I drove the car on only long trip and nearly died in the heat" The a/c was great if you were sitting right in front of it, but didn't reach the back seats. Gas milage was touted as "24/30" I got 21 in town and a booming 25.111 on the trip. The so-called glove box cooler didn't work worth a dam. I have no idea what the "paint sealant" or "rust proofing" components, but they charged $450 for the leather/fabric protection, which consisted of wiping with Armorall and spraying with ScotchGard. Hell, I may be old and decrepit, arthritic and wheezy, but I could have done that much myself! I ended up taking the car back to Moss Bros. They wouldn't give me anything back on it - of course, and my letter to Dodge generated a whole phone call - basically, we got your money, sorry you don't like the car, next time buy something else. Moss Bros was basically the same - next time shop somewhere else. So anyway, I traded a 6 month old piece of crap car in on a Toyota, and I wish I'd have started looking at foreign cars long ago. The best car I've ever owned, bar none.
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    denniscubed Nov 03, 2009 6:05 PM
    I purchased a new Mazda in 2004. The flavor of the day was "window etching". A questionable security device in my estimation for theft deterrence. After much discussion on the pros and cons of the dealer add on, I purchased the vehicle without the option. Only to discover upon getting the car home, all of the windows already contained the "security" identification etching.
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    els2456 Nov 03, 2009 6:01 PM
    If you LOVE the car you are buying you will do all you can to protect it. The same goes for your MATE or anything you LOVE. I only wish I could put LoJack on my LOVER. :)!!!
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    jwaric Nov 03, 2009 5:57 PM
    Hi Kevin - Just a couple of updates and clarifications related to the LoJack section. With the updated 2008 statistics, a vehicle is stolen every 32.2 seconds in the U.S. To date, LoJack claims that over 250,000 vehicles have been recovered worldwide using their system, with over 125,000 of those in the U.S. A couple of items to consider as it relates to GM vehicles and a LoJack system. LoJack has a long-standing direct integration with Federal, state, regional and local law enforcement agencies throughout the country and has worked directly with police for more than two decades in the fight against vehicle theft. LoJack’s Police Tracking Computers (PTCs), which are installed in patrol vehicles, helicopters and aircraft, receive signals from the activated LoJack transmitter that communicates the vehicle’s whereabouts directly to police. Unlike GPS-based systems, LoJack’s Radio Frequency-technology is effective even if the vehicle is hidden in a steel container, garage, tunnel or hidden in dense foliage. Most importantly, the system is covert with no external antennas so thieves cannot find or disengage the system. As a final point, LoJack does not require a monthly fee. If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks.
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    bradleygou Nov 03, 2009 5:54 PM
    It is amazing to me how many so called "experts" there are out there. When it comes to extended warranties, as with most reporting, the information is slanted toward the negative. The author states that GM vehicles come with a 5 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 6 year, 100,000 mile corrosion warranty. That's great, but the corrosion warranty has nothing to do with the mechanical warranty. And Gm's comprehensive warranty is only 3 years, 36,000 miles. On a typical new car these days, there are over 10,000 moving parts, most of which are only covered under the 3 year warranty. When the average new vehicle costs over $20,000, it doesn't seem excessive to pay $1200 to $1500 for a 6 year, 100,000 mile comprehensive warranty. Especially when an average trip to the shop costs $800 to $1200 out of pocket after the comprehensive warranty has expired. On average, a new vehicle will have between 2.8 and 5.2 repairs after the manufacturer warranty expires. You do the math...
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    bilkymann731 Nov 03, 2009 5:52 PM
    OK Galensmith9, I agree browniefifi is somewhat mentally ill or slow or some other non-offensive way of saying he's retarded. I do however agree with some of the things the article said. I am in the auto industry....ie..selling Chevrolet brand cars and truck. I do agree that you don't need to y things like undercoating and rustproofing, these things are just overkill. Cars are made these day to last longer, it doesn't matter what brand. Toyota, Hyundai, Chevrolet or well maybe not Porche. But these cars have galvanized steel panels and wax coated frames, nothing else needed. Warranties are good source of income for the dealer, being that the cars don't have the same percentage of mark-up they once had. They are also a good source of peace of mind for the vehicle owner. The cost of a warranty over 60 months is small compared to what a one time charge on a replacement transmission would be. My opinion is that every vehicle owner should get a warranty on their car, to cover the other things which can be very expensive...ABS pumps, fuel pumps, electrical control units for windows or how about todays high tech radios that can't be replaced by an aftermarket unit because it operates the HVAC or is connected to the driver information center. Very expensive to replace. These waranties are somewhat inexpensive over the term of the finance agreement, ******** not my money to minimize, use your head and mind your pockets. Keep yourself covered.
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    sinbad9265 Nov 03, 2009 5:45 PM
    A powertrain warranty covers just that and only that. Engine block, transmission, (internal) drive-shafts and the rear-end on a RWD vehicle. If its lubricated, its covered. Unfortunatley it does'nt cover anything else and there are thousands of parts on a car. It is usually only an upgrade at time of sale and fairly inexpensive. I would hesitate to convince someone to NOT buy an extended warranty because it had a "powertrain" warranty. If you cannot afford one, how could you afford a large repair later on?
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    hrshkvtz Nov 03, 2009 5:43 PM
    The extended warranty characterization is a bit skewed. The purpose on a new car is to extend the bumper to bumper part of the factory warranty. While many cars come with 5/60k miles bumper to bumper, many cover only 3 year years and 36k miles. If you plan to keep car beyond the bumper to bumper then you have thinking to do. It used to be you compared the price of the warranty against the cost of say an alternator or starter replacement, a good bet to go within 5-6 years back in the day. So if the warranty covered one or two things y, you're even, beyond tht you are ahead.Now it's a bit harder to gauge, because cars today are so high tech it may be that the cost of one computer outage covers the price of that warranty. Secondly, and this is so important, it behooves me how the "expert" missed it's mention. Make sure you only purchase the warranty that comes from the manufacturer, not a secondary insurance company. Most dealers prefer to sell their own "in house" brand of warranty with fancy names. Trust me, it's from an insurance company that make their money by not paying claims or making it a hassle to collect. Dealers do this because they get a bigger cut of the proceeds over the manufacturers version.
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    snowcreekrch Nov 03, 2009 5:15 PM
    anything for a $
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    galensmith9 Nov 03, 2009 5:01 PM
    browniefifi...do you have ANY education or did a pack of wild dogs provide your grammar and spelling prowess...
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    los1778 Nov 03, 2009 4:35 PM
    I think the guy who wrotte this article is IDIOT and should go work at a dealership to see how people really are when they have a problem with their car , but don't have any warrenty left and did not purchase an extended one, because of stupid articles like this one
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    After you've agreed on the price of your new car, the dealer always wants to offer you the "extras" - LoJack, Car Alarms, Extended Warranty and more. AOL Autos takes a look at which of these, if any, are actually worth the cost.


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