When buying a car, our choices are often limited by price. For most of us, there is only so much wiggle room in a household budget. With this in mind, we search the dealer’s inventory, seeking to land on the best compromise between what we can afford and what we dream of driving. If we are lucky, we will drive off the lot in a car we like, rather than one we settled for.
Negotiating a great deal on a new car requires patience, commitment, and creativity. Keep in mind, it’s in the dealership’s best interest to sell every car possible. Each day a car, truck, or SUV sits on the lot, it costs money. The dealership wants to sell you a car and will usually move heaven and earth to make it happen. But, some things are simply beyond the dealer’s scope.
When you’ve explored every traditional avenue to lower a car’s purchase price and it’s still beyond your means, it’s time to get creative. At this point, you may consider asking the dealer to remove certain features that you don’t care about to reduce the transaction price further. This is really more of a “can or cannot” question than it is a “will or will not” question.
In this story, we will provide you with answers to your most pressing questions about installed accessories, plus the differences between factory, port, and dealer-installed options.
TIP: Use our calculator to find out how much car you can afford.
Factory-Installed Options vs. Dealer-Installed Accessories
Much of the answer to the feature-removal question lies in the difference between factory-installed options and those installed by the car dealership. Yes, both are added-cost features above and beyond the base price of the vehicle you are considering. But that’s where the similarity ends.
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What Is a Factory Option?
A factory option is added to a car during its factory assembly. It’s included on the government-mandated Monroney Label window sticker, along with estimated mileage numbers and other required information. Factory options are covered under the manufacturer’s new car warranty. These options usually will influence the value of your car when you sell it or trade it in.
What Are Some Popular Factory Options?
- Power moonroof
- Surround-view cameras
- Heated seats
- Adaptive cruise control
- Navigation system
- All-wheel drive
What Is a Dealer-Installed Accessory?
A dealer-installed accessory is a feature added to the car at the dealership. It can be an actual component, such as a roof rack. It can also be something less tangible, such as rustproofing.
Depending on the brand of car, there may also be port-installed accessories or those installed on imported cars after arriving in a United States port of entry. Although rather rare today, in the case of a third-party distributor brokering a brand’s cars to its dealers, it may also add accessories. Any dealer or port-installed accessory will be displayed on a separate window sticker near the Monroney Label.
The manufacturer’s new car warranty does not cover accessories not installed by them. In many cases, the accessory won’t add any value to your car when you sell it or trade it in.
For the most part, you can add an accessory in the aftermarket for less than you will pay a car dealer to do it. The advantages of paying for it at the dealership are convenience and folding the accessory cost into the loan or lease.
What Are Some Common Dealer-Installed Accessories?
- Upholstery protection (such as Scotchguard)
- Wheel locks
- Anti-theft devices (LoJack or other tracking systems)
- Alarm systems
- Nitrogen tire fill (Filling the tires with nitrogen rather than regular air)
- Luggage rack
- All-weather floor mats
What Can’t the Dealer Remove?
Remember the can or cannot mentioned above? We’ll tell you what’s possible.
You Can’t Remove Options
If it’s a factory-installed option you want to remove, you might as well forget about it. This rarely happens.
Think about it this way. You are trying to buy a car with a rear-seat-entertainment option package. You decide to target that option as one to delete to bring the price down. The dealer pulls it all out, and then what? The sales team can neither sell nor reinstall it in another car. The car also can’t be returned to the factory.
Then There Are Option Packages
Moreover, option packages bundle more than one feature. The rear-seat-entertainment system might be bundled with the power moonroof and surround-view camera. Even if the dealer could remove it, there is no process for crediting back part of that package.
This is the can or cannot question, and the answer is, cannot.
In your negotiations, it doesn’t hurt to mention that you don’t want a particular factory-installed option as a tactic for motivating the dealer to knock a little more off the price of the car. Whether this tactic is successful depends on how desperately the dealer wants to make the sale.
TIP: Before you talk with any car salesperson, do your homework and research car prices.
Will the Dealer Remove Anything to Lower a Car Price?
Where dealership-installed accessories are concerned, it’s the will-or-will-not question. The accessories listed on that separate window sticker are fair game. The dealer installed them (or had them installed) and often can remove them. But will it remove them? That’s where some negotiating will be needed.
However, not all of these types of accessories are removable. How, for example, does a dealer remove rustproofing? Your best strategy for these types of add-ons is to stand firm on refusing to pay for them in the hope the dealer will eat their cost. Or, you can often negotiate down the price. A 50% reduction is not unreasonable.
Other accessories may not be permanent, but difficult to remove. For instance, if it’s a 4-wheel drive vehicle, dealer-installed accessories might include additional skid plates, a front brush guard, and so on. Such add-ons may be tough to negotiate away. Go for a price reduction.
Any port-installed accessories may also prove difficult to negotiate away. Here again, go for reducing the posted cost.
In the end, you want to buy a car, and the salesperson wants to sell you a car. Some marriages don’t begin with this degree of common ground. Keep your eye on the ball, negotiate in good faith, and get the deal done.
But, like a marriage, if you can’t come to a compromise, you can always head for the door. Somewhere out there, a dealership is willing to do the deal.
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Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published. Russ Heaps contributed to this report.