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How to Pimp Your New Ride

Before you throw down more moola for all the extra features the dealer insists “you won’t be able to live without,” check out our car gadget guide to help you decide for yourself.

Photo: Garmin

Sure, all those extra features may sound cool, but they can add up to a pretty big chunk of change. Here are three must-have options that are worth a few extra bucks -- and three you can do without.

SNAG:

NAVIGATION SYSTEM This built-in GPS comes in handy if you’re bad with directions (or your significant other just refuses to ask for them). Plus, with a click of a button, it’ll locate the nearest restaurants, hotels and gas stations -- even when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

BACK-UP CAMERAS If you’re purchasing a big old SUV or if you’re just parallel-parking-challenged (us too!), this nifty feature is worth the extra cash. The cameras’ strategically located lenses basically give you eyes in the back of your head (and you thought only moms got those!), allowing you to see what’s behind your car on a small TV screen located in the dashboard. (Read: No more lawn jobs and bumper nicks!)

SATELLITE RADIO If tunes are a must when you’re cruising, spring for the satellite radio. It gets a steady signal across the country, which means you can say goodbye to the annoying static that you hear when you’re out of a station’s range. Plus, you’ll have more than 100 comedy, news and music channels right at your fingertips.

SKIP:

LANE DEPARTURE WARNING SYSTEMS To keep you in line, this gimmick starts beeping every time you drift into the double-yellow or shoulder lines. Bottom line: If you can’t keep the car in the lane, keep it in the driveway.

BLUETOOTH TELEPHONE CONNECTIONS Sure, it’s hands-free (you converse through the car’s speakers), but experts say talking on the phone through any device makes driving dangerous. The verdict? No point in paying extra to crash.

LOW-PROFILE WHEELS AND TIRES These thin tires and flashy wheels may look snazzy, but hit one pothole or bump and you’ll be sidelined with a flat. Um, no thanks!


Nestperts: Steve Nolan of Cars.com and Robert Sinclair of the Automobile Association of America.

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