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Options for new cars...

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TOM: If you read our column last week, and if you can remember that far back, you know that we've been discussing some of the options you can get on new cars.

RAY: Right. We realized that it's becoming almost as difficult to choose options as it is to choose a make and model.

TOM: Last week, we talked about air bags, anti-lock brakes, and engines. Here are some more of the options you'll be offered if you're buying a new car this year.

RUSTPROOFING

TOM: Rust proofing really isn't worth it, because most car manufacturers now do a pretty decent job of rust proofing their cars at the factory. The average person sells a car after six years. And most cars should have no trouble lasting six years without rusting--even in the frozen North.

RAY: And even if you plan to keep your car forever, rust proofing is still controversial. Some people, including the folks at Consumer Reports, say that a bad job of rust proofing can be worse than none at all--and can even make the car rust faster. And in our experience, most rust proofing jobs ARE done poorly.

TOM: So our advice would be to forego the rust proofing. Your money would be better spent on stamps for letters to local officials, urging them to stop using salt on the roads.

EXTENDED WARRANTIES

TOM: If you live a good, clean life, you don't need extended warranties. This is more of a psychological option than a mechanical one. If you feel more at peace having a longer warranty, then get one. But we've seen a lot of people disappointed when the fine print on their warranty says that the particular repair they need is not covered.

RAY: Think about it. These extended warranties are put together by a tricky trio of lawyers, insurance companies, and the automotive industry. If you think you have any chance of coming out ahead against these "fathers of fine print," you're dreaming.

POWER PACKAGE

RAY: This comes under the category of nice, but not necessary. There's really no safety reason to get power windows, power seats, power door locks, remote mirrors, remote personality.... They're conveniences, and they're things you can really live without.

TOM: No you can't. If you're spending all that money on a new car, my theory is that you should get every single luxury that ap?peals to you. Why? Because you'll love your car more. And if you love your car, you'll take better care of it, and you won't try to justify trading it in after three years so you can get one with power windows (like you wanted in the first place, but were too cheap to order).

SUNROOF

TOM: I love sunroofs. They're the next best thing to convertibles.

RAY: Yeah, but you do have to remember that when you get a sun?roof, you lose a little head room. So if you're frequently mistaken for someone who plays for the Detroit Pistons, make sure you sit in a sunroof-equipped car before ordering one. If you don't, you may have to keep the sunroof open ALL the time.

TOM: Next week, we'll get into the murky area of sound systems, digital-everythings, and the all-important issue of air-conditioning.

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