10 Car Add-ons to Buy and Avoid

By Alexi Falson
Updated on 15 Feb 2023 First published 30 Nov 2020
image for 10 Car Add-ons to Buy and Avoid Buying a new car can be a stressful and, at times, overwhelming experience that can lead to some bad decision-making when it comes to choosing the right optional extras and add-ons.

While the right equipment add-ons can make a huge difference, some can prove an unnecessary and costly addition to your purchase that doesn’t add much value at all.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best and the worst add-ons for new cars to help you make a more confident and informed decision while shopping around.

Types of Car Add-Ons

There are a number of different types of car accessories for new vehicles that can be fitted either when the vehicle is manufactured, purchased in the dealership or fitted to your vehicle after you’ve purchased the car.

  • Factory-Fitted Accessories are some of the more significant upgrades to a vehicle that are fitted on the production line, like an upgraded sound system, active safety and parking equipment, seat upholstery or a panoramic sunroof.

  • Dealer-Fitted Accessories are genuine parts and add-ons fitted to the vehicle by the employees when its either in the dealership or in the supply chain; think of things like roof racks, tow bars, underbody protection, or unique alloy wheel designs.

  • Aftermarket accessories are any type of add-on for your vehicle that you find online or in a retail space; the most common examples are things like seat covers, window tints, bull bars.

Five Factory & Dealership Add-Ons to Avoid

Let’s break down a few of the most common and costly add-ons to avoid when purchasing a new vehicle.

Bundled Insurance Plans

Signing a bundled insurance policy that covers things like tyre and rim insurance and loan termination insurance at the dealership often proves a costly mistake. ASIC has found that these insurance policies provide little value to consumers and should therefore be avoided.

Extended Warranties

While it sounds like a great and sensible option, extended warranties only cover an ‘unforeseeable’ defect beyond the manufacturers' warranty, and are not applied to the majority of components that ‘wear and tear’ over time. Australian Consumer Law states that your purchase is already protected if the product is not fit for purpose.

Rustproofing & Paint Protection

If you are interested in things like rustproofing and paint protection, you should talk to some aftermarket specialists that will offer a far better price for these services than the dealer; otherwise, try to use it in your negotiations.

Dealer Tinting

Tinted windows, otherwise known as privacy glass, can often be found on mid-range car models as a standard feature, but can prove a costly addition if the model you’re looking at doesn’t come fitted as standard.

Roof racks, Tow Bars & Bull Bars

Unless your dealership is willing to throw in some added gear like roof racks, tow bars or bull bars at a heavily discounted price, you’re better off sticking to aftermarket parts that are either cheaper, or more specialised for heavy-duty, off-road scenarios.

Car Add-Ons to Consider

While some add-ons for your new car might be a simple money-grab, it’s worth taking note of some of the best optional extras that can make your vehicle more user-friendly, safe and even save you money on insurance.

Digital Instrument Clusters

Far from a gimmick, digital instrument clusters replace the traditional speedometer with a digital screen that can even display navigation and vehicle diagnostics. Combined with voice controls, you won’t need to take your eyes off the road and fiddle around with the sat-nav on your next journey.

Active Safety Equipment (ADAS)

While active safety features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts and adaptive cruise control are becoming more common in affordable passenger cars, depending on the make or model, it might remain an optional extra that is very worthwhile adding on.

Ticking the box for these safety features can also help to lower your insurance premium costs, as it is often more difficult to rear-end another vehicle, or stray out of the lane on the highway.

Surround-View Monitors & Parking Assistants

Almost every new vehicle sold in Australia comes fitted with a rear-view camera, but not many come packing a surround-view camera which gives you a 360-degree view of your surroundings while parking or navigating low-speed traffic, and prove very useful to illustrate hazards in your blindspots.

Parking assistants are also a great way to take the stress out of parking your vehicle, and will map out whether or not there is enough space for you to park, and even take control of the steering for you.

Heated & Ventilated Seats

Wherever you live, there’s always going to be a time of day when the car is too hot, or too cold- and the problem is magnified if you have leather upholstery in your car.

Ticking the box on a set of heated or ventilated seats is a game-changer for driving comfort, and you won’t have any regrets on your first ice-cold morning or scorching-hot summer day.

Trailer Sway Control

If you’re planning on using your new car to tow a caravan, boat, or a trailer for work, ticking the box for a trailer sway control can be a game-changer on long-distance journeys.

Trailer sway control systems work in the background to detect any signs of a trailer snaking, which can easily cause an accident. The system gradually eases power from the engine and even hits the brakes, if necessary.

Consider a Car-Buying Service

If you’re in the market for a new car, the OnlineAuto team is here to help you save time and money.

We can help narrow down your options, negotiate with the dealer and even help to secure some of the best add-ons for your vehicle. We have no ties to any manufacturer or dealerships, and we charge no upfront fees, just expert advice from our team of car-buying specialists and huge potential savings from our fleet-buying power. 


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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