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The next time you buy a car from a dealership, you’ll probably find yourself sitting in the finance manager’s office being pitched on a product that protects your car’s interior from stains. The finance manager will probably try to “wow” you with a product demonstration and then tell you that it comes with a warranty. If any stains do occur in your newfound pride and joy, then you can take it back to the dealership and have the stains cleaned for free.

That sounds like a pretty good proposition, doesn’t it? It’s tempting because you’re likely thinking about your kids (or anyone else in your life) and how messy they can be. Getting fabric protection in your car’s interior might sound like a great idea, but is it really worth it?

Dealership fabric protection can cost a lot

Different dealerships will typically have different types of fabric protection products, but they all generally work the same way. The finance manager might lure you in with fancy words like “microfiber polymer” and “molecular adhesion,” but try not to fall for it. While some of those products might work a little differently than others, they’re typically not worth the $200 to $400 that the dealer wants to charge you.

A car salesman shows a new Saab to a customer at the Deel Saab dealership
A car salesman shows a new Saab to a customer at the Deel Saab dealership. |(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A can of Scotchgard can do wonders

Instead of falling for the dealership sales pitch, kindly tell them “no” and then take your new car to the closest Wal-Mart. According to Used Cars, “the secret chemical protection many dealerships use to protect their vehicle’s upholstery is no more than Scotchgard.”

That’s right, a simple $5 can of Scotchgard can do the same trick. The only caveat is that you’ll have to spend the time spraying the product on yourself and then let it air out for a day or so. But of course, that’s a much cheaper alternative than paying a dealer $200 to do it and having to give up a weekend day to have it done.

A can of Scotchgard
A can of Scotchgard |

Why do dealerships offer fabric protection?

If anything, extra products like fabric protection are merely profit centers for dealerships. They get charged pennies on the dollar to carry these products and sell them to customers, only to charge them exponentially more for it.

A salesman shows a potential customer detail on a Maybach 57 limousine.
A salesman shows a potential customer detail on a Maybach 57 limousine. | (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

What about the warranty they offer?

There is some merit to the warranty that comes with the fabric protection product. However, the dealer is still banking on the fact that you might never use it or forget that you even have. But even if you do need to use it, the dealer will more than likely make good on the warranty and clean your car if any stains do occur under the warranty guidelines.

And although the warranty and that service could still make the whole package look promising, we suggest staying away. Instead, just buy a can, or two, of Scotchgard and save yourself the money. Ultimately, the whole process will only take around 10 minutes of your time.


Avoid These Dealership Add-Ons at All Costs