The natural temptation when shopping for a used car is to go for the models with all the bells and whistles like navigation, satellite radio, DVD monitors and massage seats among others. What sounds great on paper, though, can end up costing you hundreds of dollars down the road when it comes time to replace the items. Plus, some of them wrongly spike the value of the car you’re trying to purchase. What follows are new car features that are bad values in used cars.
Panoramic Roofs: There are cost and safety issues with these glass sunroofs that stretch from the back to the front of a vehicle (like the 2004 Nissan Quest minivan). They look great, but the potential exists that passengers could be ejected through them in an accident or debris could crack them and cause them to break. They’re also expensive to fix when broken. Unlike a small dent in your roof you can live with, a cracked panoramic roof is hard to hide. This is a definite new car feature that is a used car bad value.
Navigation Systems: A great hand-held navigation system can be bought for $400. Built-in navigation systems can become obsolete in a few years time, unless you buy expensive DVD upgrades for them. In some cases, you might be able to download information through a flash drive, but there’s still a cost involved. Do your homework on the navigation system in the car you’re buying. Don’t let the seller tack on extra for the feature. Sites like Edmunds.com say they add value. I disagree. These are used car bad values.
Removable Third-Row Seats: While the extra space sounds nice, the difficulty in removing the seats, which can weigh more than 50 lbs., far outweighs the benefit of extra space. Instead, look for third rows that fold in the floor. Otherwise, if you need the space and you’re away from home, you’re out of luck because there’s no place to store the seats. In addition to being a hassle, they are also used car bad values.
Headrest DVD Monitors: They look great, but are expensive to replace and can be difficult to use. Plus the screens can be small. A better idea is a portable DVD player for the kids.
Massage Seats: In theory, massage seats sound great. What could be better than a gentle massage as you drive the kids to school? In practice, they’re expensive to replace. In a 2004 VW Phaeton, for example, the seats cost $2900 brand-new.
Certified Pre-Owned: Don’t let a private seller tell you the car was certified pre-owned when first purchased. It may have been, but that designation means nothing once the warranty has expired or if the warranty can’t be transferred to the third owner. Its value as a determination of a car’s mechanical worthiness is also meaningless.
GM OnStar: The problem with GM OnStar is it isn’t free. Depending on your desires, the cost runs anywhere from $199 to $399 a year for cars built in 2006 and before. There are some great aspects to OnStar; just remember that it has a cost built in to it. Of course, the first time it calls 9-1-1 for you when your airbag deploys from a collision, you’ll be glad you have it.
Satellite Radio Receivers: As of this writing, there is a lot of turmoil in the satellite radio industry. You’re better off buying an after-market receiver that plugs into the car stereo instead of buying an already installed unit. Plus, as with GM OnStar, there is an annual fee of around $150 for either Sirius or XM, which are hoping to merge in the near future. No answers yet on who’s equipment will become obsolete.
Run-Flat Tires: In 28 years of driving, I’ve had two flat tires. (Of course, now I’ll probably have 10 in the next two months.) Run-flat tires provide a harsher ride and lower gas mileage. If flat tires are a concern, keep a can of tire sealant in the trunk or join a motor club. Either will provide you greater protection and a more comfortable driving experience.
Keyless Entry: Replacement cost and reliability are the issues here. These key fobs can fail at any time and leave you stranded. Or, they can become lost and damaged. A dealership could charge you $140 to replace one.