Considering buying a new car? You're about to be faced with a laundry list of cool-sounding but crazy expensive extra options. But are they worth it? Seems like for all of the millions of factory and dealer options out there, most of them are utterly worthless cash sucks.
That might be overstating things a little, but it also isn't too far off the mark. The fact is, a lot of car companies make far more on selling options, option packages, and useless, whiz-bang gizmotronics than they do manufacturing automobiles. Granted, some of these bad new car features don't seem so bad; but you might be surprised how many options are really nonsense add-ons whose sole "performance" contribution is reducing the weight of your wallet. Here's looking at you, carbon fiber cupholders of the world.
When you head to the lot, try not to be seduced by these worthless dealer options.
Matched LuggageYou know what? Here's the thing: Just... don't. You'll never use the luggage, because the first time you do, someone will steal the bag carrying your hair product just to teach you a lesson about being such a tool.
Carbon Fiber Interior BitsYes, unpainted carbon bits look sporty - but only in the same way that stickers and giant wings do. Plus, what's the point, really? Carbon absolutely does make sense as a replacement for structural steel and aluminum components; it's expensive, but the weight savings can be immense. However, it's not much lighter than the plastic most cars use for interior bits, and those panels aren't exactly structurally integral to the car. Carbon panels are rice for the rich.
Fog LightsThis is one of those options that looks cool and seems to make sense. But, these days, it actually doesn't. Fog lights used to be a really important and functional feature back when it wasn't uncommon for cars to creep along at 30 mph in the early morning. Now though, if you find yourself in a situation where you actually need fog lights, you're probably driving so slow you're likely to get rear-ended.
Radio With Bluetooth/USB/MP3 CompatibilityThis is something that should have come standard on every car sold since 2010, but some companies still charge a thousand bucks or more for Bluetooth compatibility and USB ports in the armrests. Forget that noise. You can buy a $100 aftermarket radio with a Bluetooth receiver, MP3 player jack, and USB port.
Keyless Entry/Keyless StartYes, that big "Start/Stop" button seems really racy, but this is just one of those pointlessly expensive options most people can do without. You could make a slightly better case for keyless entry as a convenience thing, but it's not crucial.
Nitrogen Filled TiresNitrogen filling isn't the dumbest thing in the world for race cars. It's a noble gas, so your tire pressure won't go up when the rubber gets hot, or down on cold winter mornings. It also doesn't leak as fast as air, so it's good if you're planning on long-term storage. But don't pay extra for N2 filling if you're expecting some kind of everyday performance advantage.
Heated Seats and Steering WheelsHere's a fun fact: Mere minutes after sitting down, any car seat will automatically heat to a cozy 98.6 degrees. We call that nifty little feature "convection," and it's available as standard equipment anywhere the laws of thermodynamics apply. Same for hands situated conveniently near heating vents. These fantastic comfort features won't cost you a dime to purchase, and won't suck up gas mileage as you burn fuel to warm things that are already warm.
Navigation SystemNav systems aren't necessarily a bad idea - especially since these days there are people who couldn't use both hands to find their asses without GPS assistance. But if you're one of them, odds are good you already own a smartphone that does exactly the same thing. No sense paying thousands for a nav system when a $10 dashboard phone mount will accomplish exactly the same task.
Flappy Paddle ShiftersThese things do have completely legitimate applications in some performance cars, particularly those with DSG gearboxes. But most of the time, these fun buttons are just kind of pointless and silly, especially if you have a floor shifter with a manumatic up/down shift feature. Guess it depends on your tastes in motorsport. F1 fans will enjoy the poncy paddles, while drag racers who've always dreamed of banging through a sequential shift Lenco will prefer the floor shift.
Super-Dub RimsRims sized 20 inches or larger are acceptable on four types of vehicles: motorcycles, tractor trailers, certain luxury SUVs, and Chrysler 300Cs. That's it. End of discussion. Anyone who puts dubs on anything else deserves what happens when they find out their brakes kind of work like crap now.
Carbon BrakesIt's true that sintered carbon brakes are better than steel discs, in terms of resisting fade through overheating. It's practically impossible to overwork them. Unfortunately, carbon actually offers less initial bite, and a full set of discs costs more than most sedans. Unless you're planning to track-attack your car regularly, just skip this one.
Garage Door OpenerCan you believe they still even offer these things in cars? Come on, man. Don't even try to tell the world with a straight face that your garage door didn't come with a remote. You probably used it to program the completely pointless transmitter in your car.