All or Nothing: How Many “Specs” Should You Add Onto Your Car?
It’s great knowing what car you are going to buy in advance. Maybe it’s going to be a luxury ride, such as a Lexus IS250, or something that’s sporty yet thrifty, like a Honda Accord. Maybe you’ve decided to go for a hybrid car, or step even further into the future by choosing a fully electric vehicle, such as the Kia Soul EV or the Tesla Model S. But you also have to think about what’s going to go inside your vehicle.
That’s why deciding between a car that’s a base model, fully loaded, or something in the middle is a dilemma that often befalls most drivers. It’s a tricky task figuring out what additional car specs your vehicle needs, but it’s important to make the right choices so that you don’t overspend. More importantly, you want to choose features that actually make your daily drive more enjoyable, instead of doing nothing at all.
When it comes to choosing features for a car, there is a spectrum. You can literally buy a car that gives you just the bare bones – in other words, the vehicle itself without much in the way of accessories. At the other end, you can add everything you can think of, so that your car feels more like a spaceship. And then there’s everything in between. You might choose to add just a couple features that you feel will enhance your driving experience, or you opt for several smaller accessories. Whatever you choose, however, shouldn’t be for the purpose of meeting someone else’s standards, whether it’s a friend, family member, or even a car salesman. It’s really all about you.
Sticking with the Basics
Let’s talk about the cars that are basically shells – your base models. They are akin to a brand new apartment, which is basically an empty space with no fixings of any kind. These cars tend to have the absolute, bare minimum when it comes to features, such as a stereo, AC and auxiliary jacks. But if you’re looking for any of that fancy technology you see in most cars nowadays, look elsewhere. They tend to be the more frugal options. For example, if you wanted a high-end luxury car, (perhaps from BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz), a base model could fit your budget, as opposed to a car that’s fully loaded. With that said, base models seriously deprive you of the options that more loaded vehicles provide. And many of these features can offer you much in the way of safety, comfort and even performance.
Going All Out
There are also those cars that come with just about everything you can think of. You name it – GPS, OnStar, lane departures sensors, reverse parking cameras, self-cleaning windows, phone syncing and seats that give you massages – there are cars that seem to have been yanked right out of the future. These features can truly elevate your driving from a chore to an experience. But they come with a price. A high one. The more add-ons you have in your car, the more it will cost. So if you plan on buying a car that’s fully loaded, make sure to consider your needs versus what your budget can actually pay for.
A Happy Medium
As we mentioned near the beginning of this post, there is a spectrum when it comes to choosing car specs. You can buy a car that’s like a skeleton, or you go for a vehicle that’s bloated. But those are two extremes. In reality, you can go for a middle ground. Most dealerships offer different packages and are flexible when it comes to choosing features for your car, so you’re never stuck having to choose between everything or nothing. That means selecting options that you will actually use, and that don’t add too much expense on top of what you’re already paying.
Making the Cut
With the three categories considered above, the question is how do you know which one is right for you. Everyone’s answer will be different. The features you choose greatly depend on you as an individual, and some other important factors. That’s why you can’t make choices solely on the words of loved ones or salespeople even.
Lifestyle and circumstances
- Distance travelled – Always consider how far you’re driving. Longer distances warrant things like GPS units, charging units for mobile devices and even newer devices such as fatigue sensors. Long drives can bring about boredom and exhaustion, so it’s good to have accessories that can help make these burdens less of an issue.
- Activities participated in – If you use your car for a special activity, then certain features belong in your car. For all you outdoorsy folk, returning from cottages or campsites after sundown, consider the addition of night vision. This is especially useful on country roads where animals like deer cross the road.
- Size of your family – If you’re in a two-person family, or have one young child, you might not need too many features. But add a few kids and grandparents in the mix, and you’ll have to make adjustments. Something as simple as a trunk that opens automatically, can be of great help when you’re hauling in heavy bags, while telling little Johnny or Julie to stop running around.
Budget and expenses
- Current budget – How much can you afford to put towards the car right now? Your current car budget should factor in when deciding what car specs to add on. This goes both ways. Don’t force yourself to have something installed if you can’t afford it, and if you can pay for it, don’t refuse it. You might not be able to add that feature later on.
- Weekly expenses – Some car add-ons will incur a monthly fee. If you’re not a fan of this, then make sure to find out if a particular feature you want requires such payments. Add-ons such as satellite radio and emergency services like OnStar require customers to pay every month.
- Repair costs – Here’s the other issue added features – repair costs. Anything added to your car has to the potential to breakdown, and that would mean having to spend money to fix it. That doesn’t mean you should avoid them altogether but for the sake of your budget, you should think about these potential costs.
Practicality and desires
- Safety – You can’t go wrong with added safety features. Although you don’t need to go overboard, they can reduce the chances of getting into an accident. New advances such as lane departure and collision detection can kick in if you misjudged the distance between you and another car.
- Comfort & convenience – Driving shouldn’t be a stressful activity. And fortunately, the majority of automakers have installed features that make it more relaxing. For example, those who hate backing into parking spots can have an easier time thanks to rearview cameras.
- Performance – Let’s not forget one of the most important aspects of a car – its performance. There are several features that go into cars, that can make them better performers on the road. In terms of efficiency, hybrid and electric vehicles (EV) come to mind.
Finding a Balance
Don’t be surprised if finding the right features to fit your vehicle is harder than choosing the car itself. Why is this so? Most people walk around with an idea of the car they want, long before they shop for it. The possible combination of features, however, could take a while for you to decide on. There are so many options, and it might seem justifiable to buy anyone of them. The choice is ultimately yours, and it should reflect your driving habits as well as your budget. Ideally, choosing a car that’s somewhere in the middle will offer you some useful features – providing you pick them carefully – without having to spend an outrageous amount of money.