10 Most Useless Purchases for Your Car You Should Never Buy

Spend money to maintain your vehicle, but avoid these add-ons that aren’t worth the cost.
Updated May 8, 2024
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mechanic explaining something to businessman in suite with car in background

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It’s important to spend money on your car for things like basic maintenance or the occasional car wash. But there are other items and services you can skip to avoid wasting money.

So, before you open your wallet, think about how you can actually lower your car costs by keeping these useless car purchases in mind.

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Premium gas

thenikonpro/Adobe woman in blue dress filling gas in car at gas station

For many vehicles, premium gas won’t help performance much. But it will take a big bite out of your wallet.

Manufacturers may recommend premium gas for some vehicle models. But unless that is the case for your car, skip the premium.


Михаил Решетников/Adobe beautiful female mechanic fixing a car

There was a time when car engines required an occasional tune-up to run at peak performance. But modern cars are more advanced, with computers and other technological equipment that can help your engine run properly.

These advances have made a typical tune-up more of a waste of money than something that will help your vehicle.

Excessive oil changes

Nejron Photo/Adobe mechanics at workshop changing oil in car

Traditionally, oil changes were recommended every 3,000 miles. But those requirements have become outdated.

Engines run better today, and there have been advances in oil composition that expand its lifespan. So, check your owner’s manual to find out when you need to change your oil, and don’t automatically assume it is at 3,000 miles.

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Fuel additives

Andri/Adobe hand adding diesel to a cars gas tank

Fuel additives aren’t necessary — unless you are set on wasting money.

Remember that fuel has changed over the years, and you can count on what comes from the pump to keep your car running optimally.

Front-end alignment

WS Films/Adobe mechanic in workshop checking wheel alignment on computer

Simply hitting a bump doesn’t require you to have your vehicle’s front end realigned.

Instead, limit front-end alignments to times when you notice your steering wheel pulling in one direction or another. You also may want to head to the shop if you start to see uneven wear on your tires.

In some instances, hitting a bad bump might require a trip to the service garage. But an alignment isn’t always needed just because you hit a pothole or went over a curb.

A full set of tires

Igor Link/Adobe mechanic using light to inspect car wheels at warehouse

Even if you have just one bad tire, salespeople may try and talk you into buying a whole set of tires in order to keep your car in balance. Don’t fall for it.

Unless you’re having major issues with more than one tire, purchasing one replacement is plenty to get you back on the road.

Spinner hubcaps

Leticia Wilson/Adobe number of chrome hubcaps at display in workshop

Spinner hubcaps can be cool add-ons that look good, but they’re not going to add much value to your vehicle.

And while they may have had their time in the sun, the spinner-hubcap trend is slowing down. So, put the brakes on any ideas to add these hubcaps to your car. Your wallet will thank you.

Tire balancing

Syda Productions/Adobe mechanic in workshop checking air pressure of tyre

Your tire installer should balance your tires when they go on your car, but you won’t have to do much after that. So, don’t worry about taking your vehicle in for regular tire balancing.

Tire rotation, however, can be helpful. Still, it’s another maintenance issue that doesn’t need to be overdone. 

Consider getting your tires rotated every 5,000 miles or so — particularly if you drive a front-wheel drive car — to balance out tire wear.

Headrest hook

fandistico/Adobe car head rests and holders

Headrest hooks appear to be something that can help you out when hanging up bags or purses. But most drivers already have ample space to simply put such items on the floor or an empty seat of your car.

You might want to consider the hooks, however, if you need to hang something to entertain the kids as they sit in the back seat.

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Engine-sound generators

Foton/Adobe man checking car from underneath while holding paperboard

To make heads turn, there’s nothing like revving your engine at a stop light or loudly driving down the street.

However, those noises are just expensive nuisances if you’ve paid to add them to your vehicle. Save money and skip those extra engine noises.

Bottom line

Wellnhofer Designs/Adobe man in suit giving thumbs up

A car can be an expensive purchase, so it is important to maintain the vehicle. However, it’s foolish to waste money on items and services you don’t really need.

Instead of purchasing the items on this list, use your extra savings to pay for things your car does require – and to crush your debts you might have.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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