Car price quotes tend to be jam-packed with numbers, but in some cases the fees you see are optional and, in many cases, unnecessary.
Block Heater Installation
Nitrogen for Tires
Any Fee That Sounds Fishy
Car pricing is rarely a straightforward matter – and nothing demonstrates that better than a dealer’s price quote. These sheets of paper tend to be jam-packed with numbers, but not all of them are related directly to the actual price of the car. So, even if your vehicle’s MSRP is $22,000, you might end up paying $24,000 or more because of all the additional charges.
Here’s the real caveat though – some fees are optional, and in many cases unnecessary, but not all dealers will be kind enough to let you know. To make sure you’re getting the best deal possible, here are eight common charges you don’t have to pay:
The admin fee is meant to cover expenses like licensing, transactions, documentation and so on. It may also cover activation of various in-car devices, like Bluetooth and satellite radio. You would usually come across this fee at a luxury car dealership, which means that you don’t have to pay it if you are buying a regular vehicle. Additionally, since it’s not really clear what the admin fee actually covers, you can always negotiate it, especially if it’s $300 or more.
The manufacturer’s warranty has an expiration date, which means that getting an extension wouldn’t hurt. However, it’s not something you are obligated to purchase – especially if you are planning to sell your car after three or four years of ownership. It’s usually best to buy your vehicle without an extended warranty and figure out whether you need it or not later. If you do end up needing it, be sure to purchase it from your car manufacturer or a well-known third-party vendor.
Block heaters exist to keep your car’s engine warm when it’s off, so that you could it start in sub-zero temperatures. However, unless you live in Yukon or anywhere else where it’s always below -20°C, then you don’t need a block heater. So, if you plan to drive in southern Canada, but your price quote lists a block heater installation fee, get it removed.
Unless you are in the process of buying a Porsche 918 Spyder or some other extravagant sports car, you probably don’t need nitrogen-filled tires. Sports cars use nitrogen because the element is known to increase fuel efficiency, improve safety and get more predictable tire pressure fluctuation – all of which improve its drivability. But, if you’re just buying a regular sedan or crossover, then you are in the clear.
If a car dealer offers you rustproofing, we recommend refusing, because the service can cost you $500 or more. There are much cheaper alternatives, such as Ziebart or Krown, which cost between $100 and $200. The truth is that most modern vehicles are built to withstand rust anyway, so it’s unlikely that your new car will need rustproofing. A word of caution – winter salt is known to cause corrosion on cars with scraped paint, so you might want to consider at least some form of rustproofing.
Car dealers may also offer to install some of anti-theft system to lower your insurance premium. The caveat is that it will likely cost you a pretty penny, negating any discount in the first place. If you live in a high-crime area, buy an anti-theft system separately – or, at the very least, compare prices to make sure the dealer’s offer is fair. You should also check with your insurance provider to see if they even provide such a discount.
Another service you shouldn’t pay for is etching, which involves imprinting your vehicle identification number onto its window. The purpose of this is to lower the vehicle’s value and thereby prevent any potential thieves from stealing it. However, this does not actually guarantee protection from theft – and it’s not a requirement in any of the provinces.
Your price quote may include other fees that are not mentioned on this list, such as “vehicle security,” “vehicle registration” or something similar. The only obligatory charges on your price quote should be freight and PDI, air tax, tire stewardship, a regulatory fee (OMVIC or AMVIC) and possibly an advertising fee. If you spot a suspicious charge that’s over $100, then it’s possible that the dealer is trying to sell you an optional service, like etching or rustproofing, under a different name.