Shopping for a new car? Before hitting up the dealership, take a moment to consider which features you truly need. Today’s cars come with high-tech and luxury options that sound great when you’re going for a test spin, but might lead to buyer’s remorse.
Budgeting for a new car — and sticking to your budget — is a lot easier when you plan ahead and know which options you can safely pass up. Here are five tempting new car options that you may find you can happily do without.
1. Built-In Navigation Systems
At first glance, a built-in GPS system might seem like a necessity. After all, who enjoys trying to unfold and read a map while driving? But factory-installed navigation systems often come as part of an exorbitant electronics package that may include several features you could do without. Portable GPS systems are a fraction of the cost of a built-in GPS, and built-in safety services such as GM’s OnStar usually include turn-by-turn navigation assistance. An even cheaper option? Just use the navigation app on your smartphone.
2. Built-in DVD Players
If you have kids, built-in DVD players or streaming video systems probably sound like the best thing since Yo Gabba Gabba to keep them quiet and everyone else happy, especially on long car trips. But why spend thousands for a hardwired system when you could buy a portable DVD players for under a hundred bucks? An even better bet? Consider a tablet computer with a 3G data plan that gives the kids even more entertainment options, both in and out of the car.
3. In-Car Internet Service
Speaking of 3G data plans, here’s a new car option that, while it may once have been state-of-the-art, now makes very little sense. In a world where 3G and 4G wireless Internet is increasingly widespread and smartphones also serve as mobile hotspots, there is simply no need to spend thousands for wiring Internet access into your vehicle.
4. Leather Upholstery
Leather seats might feel like the height of luxury, but is it really worth spending thousands on the upgrade package? Besides, you can get the same look and feel for much less by opting for high quality synthetic leather that will better withstand wear and tear. If nothing but the genuine article will do, you can still save by having your seats redone by an aftermarket upholsterer instead.
5. Power-Assisted Features
Although power-assisted everything might seem Heaven-sent when you’re trying to wrestle both kids and grocery bags into your SUV, there are good reasons to consider passing up this pricey convenience option. For one thing, apart from the package price (which could add thousands to the cost of your vehicle) the more power-operated features you have, the more they’ll cost to maintain.
Of course, after weighing the pros and cons, you may decide you have a valid need for built-in GPS or a power-assisted door on your minivan — or even that you simply want them. But by considering which options are important and making a list before you arrive at the dealership, the more likely you’ll be to stick to your guns and not be talked into spending extra money you didn’t plan for on options you don’t really need.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.