Dealer Add-Ons Decoded: Smart Strategies to Save Money on Your Car Purchase

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Last updated Apr 24, 2023

When purchasing a new vehicle, navigating the world of dealer add-ons can be a confusing and sometimes costly experience. These extra features, services, or accessories may be presented as essential or highly beneficial, but they often come with a hefty price tag. In this comprehensive guide, we will demystify dealer add-ons, helping you understand their true value and make informed decisions during your car-buying journey. From extended warranties to paint protection, learn how to challenge dealer add-ons and avoid paying for unnecessary extras, ultimately saving you money on your new vehicle purchase.

What Are Dealer Add-Ons?

Say you’ve found the perfect car or truck, and it’s listed ‘at MSRP’, or maybe even a bit less. You think you’re in for a good deal, and you’re aware that it can be hard to come by in 2023. The salesperson is talking it up, and it’s working. 

As you start to talk numbers at the sales desk, they slyly mention the paint protection, theft protection, etching, door guards and nitrogen-inflated tires. Maybe even some pinstripes. These ‘forced’ front-end dealer add-ons are going to cost you $2,000, but he says not to worry, every car at the dealership has these ‘products’ added. Supposedly, they can’t be removed, and refusal to pay for them could be a deal-breaker.

What do you do next? These are the steps to take when confronted with front-end dealer add-ons. 

Ask to See the Product’s Contract

dealer add ons

When buying a car, the contract should work in your favor. Every dealer add-on does come with a contract. However, the dealership may ‘assume’ that you’re not interested in reading it. 

When presented with the product contract, you have three surprisingly simple options:

  • Accept it
  • Reject it
  • Or amend it

Push Back

The add-on product’s contract will say in bold that it is VOLUNTARY and NOT NECESSARY to obtain financing. Here’s proof. Point that out, and be clear and direct. This is not the time to beat around the bush. It might even have a declination box where you can sign that you reject the product offered.

Remember, you can get most dealer add-ons for hundreds of dollars less elsewhere. That dealer quoting you $400 for pinstripes will pretend they don’t know you can get them on your own for $100. Or, that anti-theft etching costs just $20 (not the $300 they’ll charge you).

Be Ready to Walk Away 

The salesperson or sales manager may refuse to budge at this point. Well, they’re not forcing you to sign the contract, so don’t! Tell them you’re prepared to walk away and take your business elsewhere if these add-ons aren’t removed from the purchase order. 

Get a Copy Of the Product Contract, No Matter What

Make sure you receive a copy of the product contract whether you buy it or decline it. It’s part of dealership compliance, so they can’t say no. And voila! You’ve done your documentation due diligence.

You’re in Control!

Understandably, it’s a hassle to leave a deal so late in the game and start over again elsewhere. But is avoiding the hassle really worth the markup the dealer is demanding, often over $3,000, maybe even $5,000? It’s your financial decision, and you’re in control. It’s time to empower your buying experience by demanding transparency from the dealer. 

Remember the most direct path to transparency when confronted with forced dealer add-ons is to demand to see the contract for each add-on. The same is true when canceling or rejecting an extended warranty at the dealership. 

Expert Help Is Available Today

Have Questions That Need Answers? CarEdge Advocates Are Here For You

Learn more about how our team of Car Coaches is ready to help you negotiate a better deal today. Yes, that includes dealer add-ons. We save customers thousands of dollars every day by doing just that! Check out these CarEdge success stories.

Let us know what you think, and what you’ve experienced buying a car. Don’t forget to join the CarEdge Community, where you can find one-on-one car buying advice, the latest car reviews, and thousands of consumers just like you who are looking for the best deals with the least hassle. We can’t wait to meet you. 


  1. Stacie P

    Knowledge is power! Amazing blog, Justin. Thank you for providing these tips. They will definitely come in handy when I’m negotiating my next EV purchase!

  2. Hugh Lynas

    I am a little confused by some of the terms used. First a contract to buy the car – clear and understandable. Next an add-on product contract – really? So we have a contract for door guards, we have a contract for pin stripes, a contract for paint protection, etc. A buyer signs each of these contracts if he wants these add-ons, and does not sign them if he does not want them. I have purchased a lot of new cars in my long lifetime and have never seen or known that these contracts exist never mind signing them. I have seen these add-ons listed in the car purchase contract and have either signed the contract with these included, or had them deleted before signing. Confusing.


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