Options and accessories can help your new car perform better, keep you safer and express your personal style. But which ones are worth the cost? Let’s look under the hood.

First, there’s something you need to know:

Once you drive your new car off the lot, it immediately begins to depreciate, or lose value. Some options, however, might keep your car’s resale or trade-in value somewhat higher than others. (Looked at another way, their absence might make your car harder to sell.)

Choose popular options.

  • Power windows, automatic transmission (unless it’s a performance car) and air conditioning are pretty much expected by used car shoppers. Without them, your car becomes a real “white elephant.”
  • A sunroof may also be optional, but people looking at mid-level and high-end used cars will want it.
  • Alloy wheels (factory, not aftermarket) help resale value because they make a used car look more shiny and new.

Be smart if you’re on a budget.

Today’s financing options make it easy to get behind the wheel of a quality, reliable, new economy car. However, be aware that come trade-in time, low-end models benefit the least from options and accessories.

Why would that be? On the used market, it’s often not too much of a financial stretch from a four-cylinder that’s “overdressed” with options to a mid-sized car with a more powerful (and desirable) engine and “nicer than basic” amenities.

Curb the urge to customize.

The less you personalize your vehicle with aftermarket accessories, the better you’ll do at resale or trade-in. Think long-term: That custom audio system (or green-apple paint job) you adore just isn’t the everyday person’s cup of tea. Your car will sit in the “pre-owned” lot longer, costing the dealer money every day it doesn’t sell. So, don’t expect a high trade-in offer.

It’s OK to say “No.”

If you’ve bought even just one new car, you’ve heard the pitches for rust-proofing and paint protection. What you don’t hear is that today’s cars come out of the factory with both. And fabric protection? You can do it yourself for a few dollars with a store-bought, spray-on product.

And of course it’s not a new-car purchase without the extended warranty spiel. Yes, they can be valuable after the factory warranty expires. BUT, would you wait 5, 7 or 10 years to wear a pair of shoes you bought today?  (Don’t worry: The manufacturer will offer an extended warranty as your factory warranty nears its expiration.)

Get a great auto value before you even start shopping.

With pre-approved loans, TrueCar car buying service and TruStage insurance services—plus online tips and calculators—you have more auto buying power as a Pen Air member.