Dealer's Journal BMW,Car Buying,Car Owners,Industry,Used Vehicle Manufacturers are Finding Ways to Sell You Subscriptions for Used Cars, Not Just New Ones

Vehicle Manufacturers are Finding Ways to Sell You Subscriptions for Used Cars, Not Just New Ones

It started with milkmen and medication, moved on to Netflix, razors, and cat food, and now the monthly subscription is making its way into your used car.

There was enough outrage when BMW announced some new vehicle owners would have to pay for heated seats that used to be standard, but now there’s going to be much more – vehicle manufacturers are making it very hard to simply own new or used cars outright.

What Subscriptions Have New Cars Been Given Lately?

Even if you may not have heard about it yet, vehicle manufacturers have found a lot of ways to add monthly subscriptions to new car prices. Many of them are software-based, but some of them relate to additional features.

From GM’s mandatory OnStar roadside assistance subscription to Toyota’s Remote Connect and Tesla’s Full Self-Driving package for an up-front or monthly cost, there have been tons of new monthly subscriptions for new vehicles.

The most recent ones have been BMW’s heated seats and a subscription for a better-performing engine for Mercedes’ electric vehicles.

So if all these are subscriptions for new cars, what kind of subscriptions there be for used cars?

What Monthly Payments Can Companies Get Out of a Used Car – Other Than Loans and Insurance?

Let’s start with the obvious: anything that was a subscription on a new vehicle can stay a subscription on a used one.

If you buy a used car with heated seats or an OnStar subscription package, you’ll likely have to continue paying for those things until the subscription ends (in the case of the OnStar) or go without them going forward if you don’t want to pay (in the case of the heated seats).

But some other features or subscriptions get pushed onto used car buyers as “free trials” or “temporary upgrades” to try to get them used to the car subscription lifestyle and purchasable features.

Most of these are connectivity software manufacturers want to use to get more data about used vehicle owners. Others are simply features requested by the new owner of the vehicle – such as SuperCruise driving assistance technology from GM.

Either way, there’s a lot more to pay for in a used car than ever before. So what can car owners do about it?

Is There Anything Consumers Can Do About This?

The simplest thing to do is not take the free trials and subscription services offered on newer used cars or look for older cars to purchase – ones that don’t have all the technology manufacturers are offering subscriptions for.

If you want all the bells and whistles but don’t want to constantly pay for them, try leasing a vehicle to get an idea of all the costs and benefits involved before committing to owning new or used cars with subscriptions.

Manufacturers will continue trying to find ways to charge you more for vehicles, so it’s up to you as a consumer to keep finding ways to save money or prevent those charges from ruining your budget.

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