BUYER’S GUIDE – Should I Buy Dealer-Installed Suspension, Engine, or Carbon-fiber Performance Parts?

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Heck-yah, but here are some important things to know before you buy dealer-installed performance upgrades.

Did you know that four out of every ten buyers of a mid-size truck like a Toyota Tacoma or Chevy Colorado opt to upgrade their truck with some kind of dealer-installed performance part?  That is a huge percentage of buyers.  Premium automakers like Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW also report that their performance divisions, F-Sport, AMG, and M-Sport, are thriving.  Affordable car makers like Subaru and Scion also have tuner parts for their sporty models.  Does that mean you should buy that engine air intake, suspension kit, sport exhaust, and carbon fiber package?  Maybe.  Here are the ins and outs of the dealer-performance scene.

TRD clutch

Engine Modifications

Some engine changes are relatively simple, like a cold-air intake intended to slightly raise power in a Miata.  Others are more drastic like a Toyota TRD Supercharger added to a Tacoma.  Regardless of the engine modification, the important thing to determine, and somehow get in writing, is that the part you are having the dealer install is approved by the manufacturer and that it will not void the factory warranty.  In fact, it should be covered by the automaker’s warranty.  The biggest advantage of buying an engine modification from the authorized dealer of any automaker is that the part is known to the automaker and approved.  Be sure it is.

TRD suspension toyota image

Suspension Modifications

If you have a truck, a raised off-road suspension upgrade may be very tempting.  Imagine yourself blasting down a mountain trail and making a jump in your truck.  An upgraded suspension will sure help.  However, if you drive your truck on-road 99% of the time will the upgrade make your on-road ride worse?  It may.  In fact, it probably will.  The same goes for you sports car buyers.  A lowered, stiffer suspension looks cool and will help on autocross days, but do you want to slam over every small road imperfection and possibly damage a tire on every ride to work?  Suspension upgrades are for real.  They work as advertised.  Just be sure you know what you are getting into and be darn sure you keep the parts that come off your car or truck stored away for later use or when the time comes to sell – or in case you change your mind.

Carbon Fiber Wings, Hoods, Roofs, and Fenders

Adding lightness is all the rage now and has been since the hot-rod days.  Near-exotic cars like the $75K Alfa Romeo 4C and BMW i8 have a full carbon fiber chassis or “tub.”  Cars like BMW’s M4 come with carbon fiber driveshafts, carbon fiber shock tower braces and of course body panels made from the stuff.  The main benefit is weight reduction.  It works.  These cars are lighter than a car made from steel or even aluminum would be.  However, more and more automakers like Lexus are offering factory carbon fiber packages that replace some of the parts in the car, such as a roof, or trunk-lip spoiler, with carbon fiber.  These factory-installed parts are real, and they may reduce weight a bit.  More often than not, buyers want them because they look bad-ass.

Financing and Warranty

By far, the biggest advantage to buying performance parts from your dealer at the time of purchase is that you can roll those accessories into your overall financing, rather than having to pay for them in full at the time of purchase.

If you’re buying factory-approved accessories, you also get the added benefit of the full manufacturer’s warranty on those parts.

For example, if you purchase an aftermarket suspension package, the only warranty you’ll be provided is the one that comes from the manufacturer of those parts, usually a year, and it won’t cover the labor required to reinstall them. With factory-approved accessories, those parts are generally covered by your full new-car, bumper-to-bumper warranty, but check with your dealer to be sure.