Car Sales Scam: Useless add-ons

It's time for new car buyers to learn that, as with intimate relationships, 'no' really does mean 'no'. Here's what you need to say 'no' to, when you're buying a new car

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 Buying a vehicle is an endurance event – you meet sales guy, you negotiate, you meet the sales manager, they try to upsell you, he hands you over to the to finance guy, then you get a handover to the accessories guy. It seems like it’ll never end, and it’s all designed to wear you down – so the dealer’s three-phase vacuum cleaner can commence docking procedures with your bank account, and then suck like it’s been supercharged.

No matter how convincingly the accessories person tells you that the fabric, paint and rust protection are essential, remember to say ‘no’.

Fabric, paint and rust protection are the worst kind of joke - on you

Fabric, paint and rust protection are the worst kind of joke - on you


Fabric protection is a joke. So is paint protection. Modern paint has a tough, exterior clear coat already applied. It doesn’t require additional protection. Modern cars are full of zinc, so they’re already highly corrosion resistant, making rust protection also a joke.

All three jokes are on you if you agree to any of it. It’s all the modern-day equivalent of selling snake-oil.  All this stuff does is line the dealer’s pocket with more of your cash.


You should also steer clear of the window tinting and other accessories that you could get just around the corner in the aftermarket game, for a fraction of the price. Just because the dealer can wrap it all up in the finance, that doesn’t make it a particularly good deal for you. In fat, paying 10 per cent interest on over-priced tinting or a tow bar is a joke.

When it comes to other accessories, get a quote from a reputable player in the aftermarket game (including fitting). Show the dealer the other quote and go ahead with the dealer only if he’ll match or beat the aftermarket price.


Watch out for the branded insurance as well. I’m talking about Honda Insurance, or Holden Insurance, or Subaru insurance – they all do it. Ninety-nine times out of 100 it’s extortionate. Buy your insurance from an insurance company – minus the big clip on the ticket on the way through.

How big it the clip - about 100 per cent mark up. See, before I knew this stuff I bought a Subaru WRX brand new, and went with the dealership finance. When I asked why it appeared so expensive they replied it was because I was purchasing a turbocharged performance car. And, like a goose, I bought into the explanation. It was re-branded Allianz insurance. A couple of years later, when a renewal lobbed, I rang Allianz for a comparative quote - and, knock me down with a feather for being a goose - the Allianz insurance was half the price. And it was the same insurance... I felt violated. And I never bought another Subaru after that (it was my fourth). 



The very last thing that demonstrates just how Dickensian the whole dealership process is in Australia is a thing called the ‘dealer delivery charge’ – which is also a euphemism for extortion in my view. Hypothetically, dealer delivery is a charge levied upon you by the dealer to compensate him for the cost of transporting the car to the dealership, and then getting it ready for you to drive away. The default amount is typically several thousand dollars, and they usually hide it in the contract with the statutory registration charges so you’ll think it’s not negotiable.

It is, in fact, highly negotiable.

Essentially what you’re paying for is an exterior wash, an interior clean, a refuel and four screws to hold the number plates on. Decide for yourself what’s a fair price that. It’s a three-figure sum at most.