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What exactly do I mean when I say “add-ons”? When you buy a new car, you do the negotiating, agree on price with the sales person. Then you move in to the office with the finance person. That is where they try and sell you the “add-ons”. This is one of my favorite Simpson moments. Yep, here we go with the add-ons.

So today we are going to talk about the pros and cons of these “add-ons”. My dealer offers:

  • Wheel and tire insurance
  • Extended Warranties
  • Gap Insurance
  • Key replacement
  • Simoniz or other paint/interior treatment
  • Security Coding

Wheel and Tire Insurance

Out of all the extras that F+I people try and sell you, this is the best(in my opinion). This plan can cover damage to a wheel, and or repair/ replacement of a tire. If you hit a pot hole and bend a wheel, they will pay for repair or replacement. If a wheel face gets scuffed at a drive-thru the insurance company will repair or replace it.

The same goes for tires. In Shop Shots Volume 58, I posted a picture of a tire that was damaged by a nail. The tire required replacement. The customer had purchased the tire insurance, so she didn’t have to pay the $180 for a new tire. It only takes a couple of repairs to fully pay for this insurance.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: This is one that I say BUY! If your car has upgraded wheels and tires, it is a definitely buy.

Extended Warranties

This would be a warranty on mechanical failures of your vehicle. I have dug deep in to this before. You can read more about Buying an extended warranty for a car. Here is the short version. There are many factors that go into this decision.

  • Do you have extra cash on hand to pay for repairs?
  • Can you do repairs yourself?
  • Can you live with somethings not working like power windows, power locks, air conditioning?
  • What does the warranty cover?
  • Where do you have to take the car for repairs?
  • Is there a deductible?

These are some of the things to consider when thinking about the extended warranty.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: Maybe, but if you do buy it be sure to get the most coverage you can. I highly recommend reading the post I wrote about it.

Gap Insurance

This one is 100% case by case. Gap insurance covers the difference between what you finance on the car, and what the car is worth. Let’s say you buy a $20,000 car. If you finance all $20,000 you are immediately “upside down” with the car. That means you owe more than the car is worth. Remember your car depreciates the second you drive it off the lot. So now that car you just financed $20,000 on i worth $15,000.

What would happen if you totaled the car the next day? Your car insurance would cover the value of the car, but what about the other $5000. This is where gap insurance would be a smart choice. Also if you buy a car and roll negative equity from a trade in, gap insurance may be a good idea.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: If you buy a car smart with a big down payment, there is no need. If you will owe more than your car is worth, it could be a good move.

Key Replacement

This is actually new to me. This covers losing or damage to a vehicle key. While it is true that vehicle keys are VERY expensive, I don’t know about this one. Volkswagen keys run from $200-$300 to replace. That is not pocket change, but if we are smart and responsible with keys, there is no need for this.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: At this time I am saying do not buy. If I come across something that makes a good case for this, I will let you guys know. Until then don’t buy


Simoniz is the brand my dealer sells. There are other brands of detail products out there. Basically this is the “Scotch guard” and “Paint protection” packages. This type of thing is the typical snake oil in my opinion. Sure you could make a case for this being a good idea, but I am just not there. I think taking good care of your car and keeping it clean is important. I think that this may not be the best way.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: I don’t think that this is one I can recommend. The products may work, but again, this just seems like a snake oil type thing to me.

Security Coding

This is a system that codes the body panels of a car. We put little stickers on the doors and lids of a car. It is an anti-theft device. I am not going to spend any time on this. I do not see 1 benefit to this. Lock your car up, and if someone wants to steal it, they will. Do you really want a car back after it has been stolen? I don’t think that I would.

BUY OR DON’T BUY: Simple, do not buy! Done and done

There are most likely other add-ons that dealers off. Some are good and some are not worth your money. Remember, these are big time money makers for the dealers. Yes some of them are a great value, but if they didn’t make the dealer money, they probably would not offer them.

Well I hope that this post can help someone make a good choice about the extras that dealerships sell. If you know anyone in the market for a car, please share this post with them. In fact, this may be one of those posts that can really help a ton of folks from making a poor choice while under pressure from a finance manager.

Nail in tire

Hi everybody! You read the title right, Shop Shots are BACK! We are on volume 58 of the pictures that give you a behind the scenes look at automotive service. For those of you that are new to the community, all of these pictures are taken with my Iphone 4s(for now 😉 ) One quick thing before we get into the pictures. I am working on getting the email alerts system worked out. If you have subscribed to updates, you should be in the new system. If you have any problems please let me know. You can contact me, or email me Charles(AT)humblemechanic(dot)com. I hope to have it totally worked out in the next few days. Alright, it is picture time.

Nail in tireThis type of thing really stinks. A customer came in for a tire that was loosing air. The nail entered the tire pretty close to the edge. Based on the place the nail entered the tire, it looked repairable. When I took the tire off the wheel, I didn’t expect it to be a giant nail. As you can see, the nail dug into the inner part of the tire. This damage can compromise the sidewall of the tire. Any time something like this happens, the tire needs to be replaced. Luck for this customer, she bought the wheel and tire coverage. I should do a post about the “extras” that dealers try and sell you. Some are junk, but the wheel and tire coverage is worth the money.

Vehicle tire vibration We are continuing the the tire theme. I didn’t really plan that, it just happened 😉 This customer brought her car in for a basic service. She also mentioned that she thought her car had a vibration on the highway. As part of the service she was getting we balanced the tires, and do a ton of visual inspections. The tech that was working on her car, found that the left rear wheel was packed with mud and rocks. This probably added a pound of weight putting the wheel assembly out of balance. When I told her, and showed her this exact picture she just laughed. She lives on a gravel road so this type of thing happened to her all the time. The tech cleaned the junk from the inside of the wheel and she was good to go!

Failed Diesel TDI fuel pumpThere is so much talk on the internets about VW diesels. Everything from the high pressure fuel pumps that “always” fail on the new TDIs, to failing cam shafts on the older Pump Duse engines. I wrote a post a long time ago talking about the Volkswagen TDIs. My opinion is basicly the same as it was back then.

What you see in the picture is the fuel pump that lives inside the fuel tank. It is coated in black goo. That goo is the result of failing seals in the fuel injectors. The bad part about this repair is it can be expensive. The issue of failing seals gets worse because of the high compression of the TDI. That causes the injectors to walk around in their holes. The “walking” causes the holes to no longer be round. So what is the repair? A new cylinder head to the tune of $5000 or so. Never a fun thing to tell a customer.

Well friends, that wraps up this weeks Shop Shots! I know it has been a while be it really feels great to be back in action. Remember if you have any topics you want to talk about just post them up in the comments of a post. I always like to know what you guys want to know about. Hopefully the email thing is worked out and you all can get the updates again.

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Hey everyone, it has been a long time between updates on the blog. I wanted to just tell you all what has been going on, and why it has been so long.

In 2012 I was updating the car blog 4-5 times a week. For those of you that do not blog, it is a ton of work. I was spending about 35 hours a week doing website related things. Whether is was spending time answering emails, helping folks in forums, or creating fresh new content. It was a ton of work, but also a lot of fun.

Late last year my wife and I moved to our new homestead. One of many awesome things about that is, a new garage. That finally gave me the room to start working on the MK1 Cabriolet again. Since about March, I have been working nonstop on the cabby project, Luv-A-Dub.

This VR6 Cabriolet project is the most intense car project that I have ever done. Sure I have stripped car interiors all the way down. I have also done a few engine. This is far and away the most I have ever done on one car. You read in forums and other blogs about how “easy” things are to do. Then you actually do them yourself. You quickly realize that even if it’s not hard, it is still a lot of work. That car has taken up just about every spare second of time. I have been posting pictures on the Facebook page, Twitter, and instagram. I hope that you have been following there too.

How close is the Cabby to running?

Well, that is a good question. We have come so far in the last few months. From parking it in late February, to stripping the engine compartment and interior, to a fully rebuild VR6 engine, new wiring, tons of new part, and making several custom pieces. Many of the custom things I can do myself. There are however somethings that just make more sense to have made, or buy. Right now, a good buddy of mine is making my header.


I want to take a minute to thank all of you that have been following the blog, and connecting with me on all the social media sites. I really enjoy answering all your questions and helping everyone out. If you ever have a car related question please feel free to ask. I know there has been a prolonged hiatus in blog updates, and for that I am sorry. We will get back on track before you know it.

ONE LAST THING, for those of you that have subscribed to get email updates. I have changed the emailing service that I use. If for some reason your email alert is not right, please let me know. You can post a comment, use the Contact Me form, or email me Charles(at)Humblemechanic(dot)com