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driving concerns

This week, I bought a 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer. While in the financing office, they were doing the whole push for extras. I politely told them, "Thanks, but no thanks." This is when the financing woman began her spiel on the $1,600 "Platinum Shield Protection" package addition, which includes rust proofing, paint protection and an interior protection coating. The extra $10 bi-weekly payment is outside my budget. She proceeded to tell me that I am welcome to turn it down, but if I do I will have to sign a waiver stating that I declined the rust proofing and thus Mitsubishi is no longer liable for any electrical damage that the car incurs. This scared me. I complained to the General Manager, he apologized and offered complimentary rustproofing. I'm brand new to this scene and don't really know how to make heads or tails of all this. — Kristin, Toronto

If they're pressuring you to buy rustproofing — or anything else — in that financing room, get up and leave, experts say.

"They have really hardcore professional sales people that push these products because they're big profit centres," says Mike Quincy, automotive specialist with Consumer Reports magazine. "Be ready to walk."

It's their job to scare you into buying protection for your new purchase, but they're not allowed to mislead you. The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) says it's not aware of any manufacturer who will void a warranty if you don't buy dealer add-ons.

"What we have here is very inaccurate information conveyed to a valued customer," says says John Arnone, Mitsubishi Canada spokesman, in an email. "There is no impact on our industry-leading warranty if additional rust protection is not applied."

It's illegal for dealers or employees to make "false, misleading, deceptive or unconscionable representations," says the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC), which investigates consumer complaints about Ontario dealerships.

"Any consumer who faces tactics or pressure such as those alleged by this consumer should immediately walk out of the dealership, shop elsewhere and report the dealer to us," says OMVIC spokesman Terry O'Keefe in an email.

So, why the waiver?

After you've agreed on a price and they have you in that little room, you'll often be asked to sign waivers saying that you've turned down products and services. Those have nothing to do with the warranty, says CADA.

"Many product offerings sold by dealership finance offices offer great value to consumers," says CADA spokesman Huw Williams in an email. "Any sign off process to decline an offer is usually made to ensure that every customer received the offer and is part of internal management."

The whole sales process is designed to get you to spend more money, says Consumer Reports' Quincy.

"It's a common tactic to wear down a car buyer, keep them waiting and spread it out over the end of the day so everybody's tired or hungry and just wants to go home," Quincy says. "If they bring you into that room and you stand up and say 'we had a deal' and you walk out, you'll be amazed at how quickly they find religion."

Quincy recommends buyers skip dealer add-ons like rustproofing, fabric protection and paint protection.

"Whenever they're pushing hard to sell you rustproofing, it's pure dealer profit as your car doesn't need it," he says. "Generally speaking, the cars that come from the factory now already have pretty good rustproofing to begin with."

If you live in areas that put a lot of salt and sand on roads, you'll have to make sure you wash it off.

"You still have to take care of your car," Quincy says.

If you do want paint and fabric protection, it's usually cheaper to just buy the products from an auto store and apply them yourself, he says.

They'll also try to sell you an extended warranty, A Consumer Reports survey showed 55% of owners who purchased extended warranties never used them for repairs.

"The median price for coverage was just over $1,200 so, generally speaking, a number of people didn't fare well financially," Quincy says. "You're probably better off finding a historically reliable car or a reliable brand and going from there."

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