Deceptive car ads can spin your wheels
“Only $99/Month” — If “only” were the truth. One thing’s for sure: There’s no shortage of advertising if you’re in the market for a new set of wheels.
Shopping for a new car can be fun and exciting; wading through car ads and promotions can be stressful and confusing. Some dealers advertise unusually low prices, low or no up-front payments, low- or no-interest loans, or low monthly payments. Others promise high trade-in allowances, free or low-cost options, or rebates. And if you’re looking to lease a vehicle, ads for very low — or no payment — at signing may be especially enticing.
But the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that when it comes to car ads, beware: Not all dealers play by the rules. In fact, the agency just announced cases against 10 auto dealers from across the country. ‘Operation Steer Clear’ drives home the point that auto ads must be truthful. That is, if a dealer advertises discounts, prices, or special low payments, the ads must clearly explain the important details of the offers and how a buyer may qualify for them.
To avoid spinning your wheels when you shop for a car, check out Are Car Ads Taking You for a Ride? You’ll learn how to recognize what may be missing from an ad and the questions to ask a dealer. The answers should help you determine whether the special promotions offer genuine value — or are simply smoke and mirrors.