Extras: which to choose when buying new?
Some are must-haves, but others are no more than a treat. Motors.co.uk picks the bestSo you’ve decided which make and model you want. You’re in the showroom, about to sign on the deal, when the sales person slips the options list for the car into your hands, writes Ray Castle of motors.co.uk.
You’re tempted. But, this is a risky moment, because it’s all too easy to go crazy and spend more than you ought. While a car with everything added is a pleasure to have, you should weigh up the value of what you’re buying.Remember that while the options you pick can add thousands to the price of your new car, they’ll mostly add little to its value a few years along the road, when the time comes to sell it. Some will make the car more attractive to would-be buyers; others will make little if any difference and a few can actually put them off.
Here’s the motors.co.uk expert guide to what to buy:
Commoner than ever as standard equipment on new cars. They’re a must on ‘prestige’ models and in-demand cars, such as Minis. But, so long as the car has them, it’s not worth paying for an upgrade to bigger rims. These will add nothing to the car’s selling price second-hand. What’s more, fat wheels and skinny-sided tyres can ruin the car’s ride, making it less comfortable to travel in. The tyres will be dearer to replace, too. And if you buy ‘aftermarket’ wheels from an accessory shop or tyre place, they may cheapen your car’s looks and make it harder to sell on than a regular model that has steel wheels and plastic trims.
For most cars, this is a must. Metallic silver is the UK’s favourite car colour and, while there are early signs that buyers are tiring of it, for now it remains a safe bet if you’re aiming for best resale value. Otherwise, metallic blues, reds and greys are much liked by used-car buyers, although metallic bronze and green are less so. All-white or black paint works well on some models, particularly if they’re performance-oriented, but can look awful on the wrong cars. White off-roaders seldom look ‘right’.
If you insist on paying no extra for paint, you’ll be stuck with the make’s ‘standard’ colours. Usually this comes down to no more than three choices, usually non-metallic blue, red and sometimes white. These may be harder to sell for a good price as used cars – though see my comments on white cars, above.
Though nice to have, it adds nothing to a car’s resale price. However, taller buyers may thank you because a sunroof can give them a vital extra inch or so of headroom, enough to stop their hairdos from brushing against the roof lining.
Another must-have. It’s offered as standard kit even on many small cars once you move up from the entry model in the range. And more and more used-car customers won’t look at cars that don’t have it. That said, paying extra to upgrade from standard air conditioning to full climate control (which allows you to pick an exact temperature for the cabin, often down to the nearest half a degree) seldom recoups your investment.
Satellite navigation systems
Now that portable sat-navs are so widely owned – and you can pick up a good one for little more than £100 – expensive built-in systems make used-car buyers suspicious. What happens if they go wrong? How much will their maps cost to update? In some cases, buying a CD containing updated software and routes works out dearer than buying a mobile unit. We’ve tried built-in ones across a range of makes, but haven’t found many that match a £100 Tom Tom for simplicity and accuracy. They’re rarely such a good buy.
All but the cheapest small cars now sport four airbags (two to the front, two to the side), while curtain airbags (which protect front and rear passengers’ heads against side impacts) are now ever-more common. Some, meanwhile, offer even greater protection: Fiat 500s and current Volkswagen Golfs have knee airbags for their drivers. If the model you want comes with a low airbag count as standard you may wish to upgrade – for peace of mind. But the bald truth is that your investment in safety now won’t be rewarded come resale time. Your car won’t be worth more – but it may just sell more quickly.
They’re always nice to have. Colour choice is important – cream leather can look brash and can get scruffy, too, after a few years’ use – but a carefully picked shade that tones with the car’s paint adds appeal to almost any model. If the car is a BMW, Audi or other quality make, it’ll be worth several hundreds of pounds more when second-hand than a similar example that has cloth seats.
A treat for you. But music systems are now pretty good, even in ordinary cars, and a fancy system won’t add much to what’ll you’ll get for your car when you sell it second-hand. And if it includes huge bass speakers that take up boot space, it could even put off some buyers.
For more great buying advice, and to view and buy thousands of new and used cars, click on to motors.co.uk