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Hidden Costs of New Car 'Infotainment' Systems

These days, a new car is basically a computer with wheels. Trunks open automatically. Rear cameras help you reverse out of parking spaces. Sealed your keys inside? Doors can be unlocked by satellite.

The flashiest new gadget: a touch screen in the middle of your dashboard.

There’s a lot to love about these “infotainment” systems. Depending on the brand, you can organize your music, program the GPS, and dictate text messages. Console screens are as wide as small tablets and easy to read, even when you’re behind the wheel.

But there’s a cost: Many of these services require a subscription, such as in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspots, Sirius XM satellite radio and live traffic data. You may start with a free trial, grow accustomed to these conveniences and then find yourself paying fees later on.

These minor price tags can add up over time, and the final tally might surprise you, especially when you set up automatic payment. You may not realize how much you’re shelling out for car-based infotainment until you look over your credit card statement. How do you avoid getting caught unaware?

Next page: Here are some preventative measures.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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