Skip the TruCoat: Top 3 Dealer Add-Ons to Avoid as Per Consumer Reports

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Anyone who has ever bought a new or used car from a dealership knows the minefield of add-ons customers must generally navigate before signing on the line which is dotted. Just this week, my own parents were presented with a deal sheet that showed an admin fee ($799), tire warranty ($499), and undercoating ($999) on a second-hand Lincoln from a non-Lincoln store. They walked.


Consumer Reports has recently published a list of dealership extras they recommend binning when buying your next car.


Atop their list is, perhaps unsurprisingly, VIN etching. Some will try to say this process of engraving a car’s VIN onto its windows provides protection against theft – or more ways to ID yer car if it does get ripped off – but those of us around here know better. If someone wants your wheels, they’re taking them regardless of any hastily carried out etching. There will be sales reps who will frown when rebuked, perhaps saying the service is required by law or is part of the price since it’s already on the car and can’t be removed. When confronted with the latter objection a few years ago, this author simply replied “Change the windows, then.” We bought a car elsewhere.


Rustproofing and its ilk also get low marks from CR – but perhaps for different reasons than window etching. In some areas of the country, different forms of rustproofing can indeed make a difference in the long-term health of a car’s metal. Where the service can fall down at the dealer level is in its price; better deals are often available right from the source. The less said about so-called interior protection and Scotchgarding, however, the better.


Tire products also take a drubbing in the report. The pitch of nitrogen filling is rightly skewered, as are various and sundry wheel & tire warranties which are sometimes not worth the paper on which they are printed. Yes, there are exceptions – we’re sure your Uncle Walt got a free set of Michelins thanks to the warranty he purchased in 1978 – but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that even paying the pro-rated price on warrantied rubber can be more expensive than finding a new set on sale.


What are your recommendations? Do you have any no-go items when shopping new or used at a dealer? And, for consistency's sake, an article like this is required by TTAC law to include a TruCoat clip from YouTube.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2LLB9CGfLs


[Image: Jon Rehg/Shutterstock.com]


Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

Comments
Join the conversation
2 of 45 comments
  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.
Next