Opting in: which extras are worth paying for
The Australian car market is complex and competitive. So much so that just settling on your chosen car can feel like a victory in itself. But even then you can’t afford to relax because many brands will walk you through a list of options… and you need to keep your wits about you.
“What we’ve found from our research is the value of the option depreciates almost twice as fast as the core vehicle,” says Nick Adamidis from Glass’s Guide, a leading Australian provider of automotive pricing, resale and other intelligence. “So if you’ve got a $100,000 car and you add $30,000 of options, that’s going to depreciate at the twice the rate per annum.”
So rule number one. If you are going to end up with the features anyway, a higher-level model that has them as standard will hold its value better than a base model lavished with extras. But choosing options on an individual basis is more complex. Here are some you’ll encounter.
Undeniably useful. But optional factory sat-nav systems can cost thousands of dollars. With aftermarket alternatives available for much less, and even smartphones offering sat-nav functionality, the value doesn’t stack up. “If you spend three grand on a factory sat nav, you’d be lucky to get 10 per cent of that back after three to five years,” says Adamidis.
Rear DVD entertainment systems
A godsend for parents but, just like sat nav, hefty pricing, high depreciation and an abundance of cheaper aftermarket alternatives make them a dubious investment in the factory-option sphere.
Rust-proofing is part of the manufacturing process: a car’s paint is designed to stand up to normal use and factory warranties typically cover issues in these areas. However, if your car gets parked under a tree or in salty coastal air, a product that reduces wear and tear could pay for itself over the long term. “Some of the new high-end paint protection is excellent,” says Adamidis. “It just comes down to whether you need it.”
Many cars now leave this once-mandatory item to the options chart. They don’t make a crucial difference to resale, so it’s all about convenience. In a short-distance urban scenario you might be able to live with a space-saver or repair/inflator kit. But if you have long-distance driving on the agenda, a repaired tyre or emergency-use spare with an 80km/h limit could be a real pain.
Big wheel/tyre combos
Investments here typically aren’t returned come resale time, and there are ride-comfort, noise and replacement-cost issues to consider. But a well-chosen optional wheel/tyre setup on the right car can make look and handling more to your liking, and appeal more to future buyers. “If it’s a sports model or a prestige model, optional wheels can help sell the vehicle and differentiate it from others on the market,” says Adamidis.
Features such as autonomous emergency braking, blindspot/lane-departure warnings and other contemporary safety technology can not only help you avoid an accident altogether but save you money. “Insurance companies are taking all these features available on the car into account, giving it a lower premium, a lower risk for those vehicles,” says Adamidis. “So safety packs are worth thinking about. That extra money can come back.”
If you’re told you should complement your car’s standard factory warranty with extended cover, be wary. A 2015 report by the Consumer Action Law Centre found many companies were selling extended warranties that were, effectively, “completely worthless”.
“We have found that the products themselves are quite poor value,” says the Consumer Action Law Centre’s Jonathan Brown. “The rules, restrictions and conditions they put in place can be so complex most people will not meet them. Even when you are able to claim on them, they’re generally confusing and poorly designed. It’s worth checking exactly what the difference is between your standard consumer rights because often there’s not much difference.”
Did you know…
You can choose from a range of affordable aftermarket add-ons – for example window tinting, paint protection, sat nav, front and rear cameras - when you take out a novated lease with Smartleasing. It’s worth noting though, these need to be added before you start the lease.