Which Options are Worth the Extra Cash When Buying a New Car?

Buying a new car always involves more than simply choosing a make and model, signing on the dotted line and driving away. Every salesperson is going to try to press options and upgrade packages onto the sale. With technology constantly advancing, there are literally dozens of possibilities to add to a car, from the frivolous to the safety-imperative. These are some of the better choices based on resale value and safety.

Resale Value

A brand new car begins losing value the moment you drive it off the lot. A car is not considered a good investment due to steady depreciation, unless it has the rare luck of lasting long enough to become a collectible. However, there are some features that can help raise the value if you trade in or sell your car before it’s an antique. Some of the top options include:

  • Cruise Control. Most people who buy late model cars will expect cruise control, and a car without it will immediately seem dated and lose some of its value.
  • Air Conditioning. Depending on where you live, air conditioning may not truly be an option. Driving in extremely hot climates during the summertime, for example, makes it a necessity. AC is also one of the options in a car that is slowest to depreciate in value.
  • Automatic Transmission. Since automatic transmission has become all but standard equipment, stick shifts have a depreciating effect on resale value.

Safety

  • Anti-Lock Brakes. This will soon be a moot issue, as ABS brakes will become mandatory in 2012. Some car-makers are already making them standard.
  • Side and Head Protection Air Bags. While the majority of cars have front protection, it is best to have as many airbags in your car as possible for safety and resale value.
  • Traction and Stability Control Systems. Different manufacturers have different names for these systems, but they can be lifesavers.
  • All-Wheel Drive. If you live in an area where snow and ice are common, then all-wheel capability is a must.

Don’t Bother

A few hard-sold, popular options that simply aren’t worth the investment include:

  • Sensor-Based Cruise Control. This system uses lasers or other sensors to measure the distance between the car and surrounding objects and adjusts accordingly. Nice to have, but very pricey.
  • VIN Engraving. You can permanently etch the VIN number onto your car for far less.
  • After-Market Undercoating and Fabric Protection. Cars generally come off the line with the former already covered. For the latter, you can buy a bottle of Scotchguard at any local retailer.

Whatever car you purchase and whichever options you install, it is imperative to take care of basic maintenance. Fortunately, many car dealerships will offer a maintenance package, but make sure it’s worth the extra charge if there is one. It may seem like a good idea to get free regular maintenance, but check the fees to have it performed elsewhere before you agree. A car engine oil change doesn’t have to happen at the dealership, and it can be cheaper when done somewhere else, even with premium products like Mobil fully-synthetic oil.

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