Once you pick out a new car, you're probably going to want to accessorize (and personalize) it. But dealer accessories can often be much more expensive than aftermarket ones. Here's a list of extra goodies you might want to shop around for.
All-season floor mats
Car key fob
Pickup bed covers
Pickup bed liner
Dealer price: $150 Aftermarket: $50 to $150 per set
The bad old days of charging extra for carpeted floor-mats are mostly gone, but start asking to have a set of rubberized mats thrown into the deal and watch your salesperson pull a face. Dealers charge a lot for a flat piece of rubber. Happily, you’ve the choice of both universal mats that are general fitment, or cut-to-fit options – both of these are often less than half the price.
Dealer price: $75 to $200-plus
Aftermarket: $60 to $100
Depending on the sort of key fob you have, a replacement at the dealer can cost you upwards of $100 or even $200. Brand-specific aftermarket fobs start at half that, and aren’t as hard to program as you might think.
Dealer price: $400 Aftermarket: $85 to $380
Manufacturers will often subcontract out to specialist companies like Yakima or Thule for racking. Usually, though, they’ll pick only one brand, and that doesn’t give the consumer much choice. Going aftermarket nets you the same (or better) quality, with a chance to look at multiple sizing options and cost levels.
Dealer price: $1500 Aftermarket: $250-plus
Installing rear sensors or cameras into a car that isn’t equipped with them at a particular trim level is very costly. Few dealers actually do this on-premise, preferring to shop the business out to specialists. Skip the middleman and go to an aftermarket supplier yourself. Also popular as an alternative to the traditional sonar-systems are license plate frame-mounted cameras.
Dealer price: $350 Aftermarket: $20-plus
If you haul stuff inside your car, you’re going to get it dirty. Muddy pets and gardening equipment and dirty soccer boots can all really make a mess of the cargo area, so some sort of rubber mat is needed. Dealers charge quite a lot for fitted options, but much of the same coverage and protection can be got with a universal option, at a much reduced cost.
Dealer price: $2000 to $3000 for four Aftermarket: $320 to $2300 for four
Adding some sparkle to your ride with a set of rims is one of the easiest ways to customize your car. But simply ordering the sport option out of the catalogue is an expensive way to do it. Better to shop around different custom styles, most of which will also be lighter than the factory option. Even better, you’ll have an increased selection of application-specific rubber to choose from.
Dealer price: $400 to $800
Aftermarket: $180 to $360
Certain aero-style roof rails are only available from the dealership due to proprietary shaping. In many cases, however, there’s a universal option that works just as well at a greatly reduced cost. Even better, the aftermarket will sometimes have a solution for an ordinary sedan where the dealer has no options listed.
Dealer price: $1200 Aftermarket: $460
A standard set of factory running boards can add a rugged look to an SUV. Sadly though, they’re usually very expensive, especially with installation charges. Aftermarket options are both less expensive, and sometimes more robust, depending on design.
Dealer price: $250
Aftermarket: $50 to $200
Your dealer might carry a specific-fit cover for your new ride, so you can keep it tucked up safe at night. Odds are, though, it’ll usually be intended only for protection from dust. Universal car covers are both better in quality of protection, and can be less expensive as well.
Dealer price: $650
Aftermarket: $260 to $700
Tonneau covers to help conceal the load of a pickup truck seem to make good sense – but most dealer-installed ones are soft material, and easily broken into. Better to go with a sturdier aftermarket option to protect your stuff.
Dealer price: $85 to $100 Aftermarket: $30-plus
One of the most common add-ons, wheel locks help protect your alloy wheels from theft – maybe not so important if you’ve only got 15” standard rims. If you’ve got high-dollar custom rims, it’s a good idea to go with something more robust than the factory option and dealers often price up this commonly sold option.
Dealer price: $1500
While some pickup trucks and SUVs come right from the factory ready to tow, many light-duty vehicles require a bolt-on hitch kit. While a dealer is sure to carry something to fit your car or truck, there’s usually a premium to pay. Aftermarket suppliers can offer you a number of applications, depending whether you’re towing a heavy load or just looking for something to attach the bike rack to.
Dealer price: $200
Aftermarket: $40 to $90
Shaped mud guards usually have to be ordered from the dealer, but if you’ve got an AWD vehicle or a 4×4 truck, you’re going to be throwing more mud on your paint than most. Going with a heavier-duty option is a great way to keep from sandblasting the quarter panels.
Dealer price: $100
A dealer-installed exhaust is usually cheap, and usually offers zilch in terms of power gains. These are ordinary chrome add-ons that are for the look of things only. Go with a proper high-flow exhaust and enjoy both the extra power and the uncorked rumble of your engine.
Dealer price: $600 Aftermarket: $60 to $80 per set
Most of the time, fog lights are packaged as part of a higher-cost sport trim. But what if you don’t want to pay the extra package cost, and still want a little wet-weather vision? Both for performance and cost, you’d be better going aftermarket. The standard factory options are always costly, and in most cases they don’t actually shed that much light.
Dealer price: $1500
A factory-installed pickup bed liner is a great way to protect your hard-working truck from damage and rust. But what if you’re just buying a basic work truck without all the fancy options? In such a case, a set-in plastic bedliner provides excellent protection, particularly for those hauling loads of sand and gravel.