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October 24, 2007


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I wouldn't get a satnav upgrade to the car, but mostly because they're relatively inexpensive to buy as stand alone systems.

The satellite tracking system is very useful, the BankRate article makes the point that this should be bought from a 3rd party to save money, not that it isn't useful. Mapquest is only useful when you know you want to go from A to B beforehand, it doesn't help you when you're already on the road and need directions. We bought a 3rd party system for our car and it has been one of the most useful purchases in my life and I don't drive a heck of a lot. But wherever I want to go I just type it in and get the play by play my whole drive, it also tells me where gas stations, rest stops, restaurants, hotels, etc. are located. It has a ton of options and benefits. But don't bother buying it through the dealer, go to an electronics store and buy it there and pay much less for better systems.

Hmm.. I guess with the keyless entry they are saying not to overpay for it - a good system can be installed for around $400, and the one I got included remote start. I had it on my first car, didn't on my second so I had it installed quick! It's like trying to go back to a time before TV remotes - I just couldn't do it!

Just an FYI, the keyless entry system can be seen on the Cadillac CTS. The key fob is detected by the car. Whenever you get in range, the doors automatically unlock. The same goes with the keyless ignition system. Since the key fob is detected by the car, all you have to do is push a button to start the car. There is no key. Just a key fob.

I recently drove a vehicle with the keyless card start (they are pretty standard on all the luxury cars). It was interesting, but nothing I'd actually pay money for. Sticking the key in the hole and turning it just isn't all that difficult :D

I recently lost my FOB, and quickly got used to just using the key to enter my vehicle - but I immediately realized it was inconvenient that manufacturers are insisting on only putting ONE keyhole on the front driver door!

I don't think I'll ever buy another vehicle without GPS. I can't stand having a clunky box glued to my dashboard, but fortunately vehicles with double-din radio openings can fit the flush touch screen GPS radios made by aftermarket companies.

Some of the luxury cars have a feature where they'll detect the key fob inside the car and prevent you from locking yourself out. The system on the Cadillac mentioned above sounds pretty cool too. Since the luxury cars always come with them, there's no point fighting it.

But if we're just talking about standard push-button keyless entry, get an aftermarket one for much cheaper. That way you also don't have to go back to the dealer if you ever lose or break one of the key fobs. You can even get one that will remotely start the car (which is also a good solution for people in extreme climates).

As for GPS navigation systems, I'm a big fan of VZ Navigator. Verizon Wireless includes it on all their new phones. It just uses the GPS receiver already in the phone for E911. Paying $3 to use the service every once in a while if I get lost is MUCH cheaper than purchasing a dedicated device.

Disagree with not getting most of the options right of the bat. Figure out what car and options you want and go get online quotes from 3-4 different dealorship. Call the cheapest one and tell them that company A offered you $$ less than his offer, will they match or beat. They will.....

Worked for me and got a car with a 24k sticker price for 19.5k. Thus, the options aren't really costing what they are listing for.....

I have to agree that GPS nav is highly useful, but I'd never pay the extra price to have it already installed on a car. We bought an extremely cheap "handheld" type for less than $250. It's not the best system out there, but it's a whole lot better than just a map when I'm in an unfamiliar area.

The "extras" I can live without but would prefer, are the heated seats and the keyless entry.
My wife wouldn't let me buy a car without heated seats, now that we have a car with them!
The keyless entry is nice to have and the remote start is most beneficial on days where we have extreme heat or colder than normal temperatures.
Another really nice feature about the keyless entry is that the car will set up the seat how you like it, based on your key fob. It took me, maybe, five minutes to set up each key fob. My wife and I have totally different preference in the seat adjustment and that helps A LOT! Although we may wear out the seat motor, pretty quick?
Again all these are nice-to-haves not deal breakers!

I think they forgot a couple options for the uber-lazy...the automatic door/trunk closing device that is becoming common on mini-vans. What a waste of $$. What a strain it is to shut the door manually.

I don't get the satellite navigation either. Is there that many people out there that just get in their cars and start driving and then need directions? If I'm going somewhere new to me I always get directions from Mapquest and/or take a map of the area.

I think I agree w/all but two items: Run flat tires and heated/cooled seats. Allow me to explain:

Run flat tires - I would not pay for these on a vehicle only I drive. However, on a car my wife will drive (and given she's driving my vehicle a decent qualifies too), I think it is worth the extra money. The reason is the safety factor. If she's out driving by herself at night, and gets a flat, I'd rather her be able to get to the safety of our house where I can change the tire than to have her stranded either waiting for me to come (if her arthitis is flaring up, she may not be able to change the tire herself), or change the tire herself. Either way, she has to pull off the side of the road, and be by herself. She's a young attractive woman, and could easily become a target for someone. While I don't think this would be a likely scenario, it is a possibility, and the extra premium is worth it to me to know that she'll be safe. If it were just me though, I wouldn't. I'm a big guy so I think I'd be less likely of a target, and besides, I value my safety less than hers.

Heated/cooled seats - I live in the deep south. Cooled seats would be wonderful, and if it's not too much more, I'd be willing to pay for that luxury. But notice what I said...if it wasn't much more. I wouldn't pay $5K for it, but I would pay $500.

Just my $.02

If you want these, just buy a model they are standard on.

Generally, I would agree with comments about aftermarket devices (gps, fob, radio, etc.). However, here is another perspective to consider: often times since you are negotiating the entire car price at once, you don't really pay the full retail price for these options. So you get a pretty hefty discount as part of the negotiations. In fact, if you buy a bare-bones car, I doubt you would get the same percentage discount that a fully loaded car would get.

Second is the issue of warranty. Factory installed devices are covered under the car's bumper to bumper warranty. For example, typical electronic devices come with a 90 day warranty. But a factory installed device would come with the 3 year-50K mile or in some cases 10 year 100K mile warranty. Also, in some cases, after market installation may void some warranties too.

I don't know of any cars with a full 10 year/100,000 mile warranty, usually that is only on the powertrain - which is the engine and transmission.

Can you pls educate us as to what podcast you listen to. I been thinking on this for a while to do the acr time useful, tried few times, but gets bored (or none of them good enough) after one or two session. I am particularly interested in personal finance. Thanks and by the way nice blog.

Richard --

As far as financial podcasts, the only one I listen to regularly is the Wall St. Journal personl finance podcast. That said, I hear the NCN podcast is good too. It's here:

Thanks FMB, will check it out

I agree on most of them, but I do miss the heated seats on my old Volkswagen (the only thing I miss about that car).

The extra I wish I'd paid extra for on our Subaru Forester is the air filter for the vents -- that thing sucks in exhaust and doesn't ventilate very well.

Would opting for the On-Star or the run-flat tires lead to any sort of reduction in car insurance rates, I wonder? (It would be nice if a sweet stereo system would have that effect, but no dice...)

I have to disagree with you on the OnStar. I was traveling back to LA from Vegas when the recent fires broke out. The major highways were closed and traffic at a near stand still. It was night, and I didn't think it was safe to just wander the desert, so I called CHP from my cell phone for an alternate route, and the basically officer told me that suggesting alternate routes was not part of his job and to "pull over and get a map lady!" I called a friend and asked him to look up alternate routes for me via her computer, but he was not able to find one. I even pulled over and powered up my laptop, but my broadband card didn't get a signal. So, I pressed the OnStar button. I about a minute, they were able to tell me an alternate routes around the fires, where it was open (and safe) to get gas, and even offered to call a motel and book a room if I got tired. I hit no traffic and made it home in about 5 hours, whereas many people stuck in freeway closures sat in traffic for 10 hours or more. If you drive long distances often (which I do) OnStar can be invaluable.

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