Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
I have an easy way for you to save money on your next car. Think aftermarket when it comes to car technology.
My wife only buys used cars and her last one came with a built-in GPS unit. The vehicle was a little more than two years old when she got it and even by then the GPS unit was obsolete and hard to use by today’s standards. If you buy a dash-mounted GPS when you get your car, you’ll pay up to 10 times what a portable one costs — and that portable one will run circles around it.
Smart Money magazine recently ran a story about what a rip it is to buy car electronics from auto manufacturers. The GPS is the most obvious example. The technology in GPS units goes through a revolution almost every six months. But there’s no way you buy a new car every six months, so you’re always behind the curve.
Another example is all the technology for showing video in cars — we’re on the cusp of watching Internet video in cars.
In fact, in my family we’re already watching Netflix in our car. My wife has an iPad and I have a built-in hotspot in my phone. So our kids can go down the highway watching Netflix in the car. This set-up costs nothing compared to an installed manufacturer-based entertainment system in the car that will be obsolete soon and costs a zillion dollars. Well, $1,600 is the usual price, but you could buy three iPads for that money!
Finally, backup cameras from the manufacturers can be a fortune. On the other hand, Smart Money says aftermarket ones are around $180, even with night vision capability.
You can insert any of a number of electronics devices in this discussion. So think portable. Think flexible. Think aftermarket and ca-ching because you’ll save thousands of dollars.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. You can also listen to his radio show live Monday through Friday 1-4 p.m. on AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.