You are here

Car ads broke the law — again

Share this page

You’ve seen the ads — car dealers hyping big discounts, low prices and low monthly payments, and great financing deals.

Ads about good deals on cars? Not a problem. Leaving out important details about how you qualify for those deals? That’s a problem. By law, dealers’ ads must clearly disclose any “catches” — like if getting that low monthly payment requires money up-front, or if a deal is limited to people who qualify for low financing rates.

That’s the issue behind the FTC’s new settlement with Dallas-area Southwest Kia dealers. Despite settling charges for deceptive ads with the FTC in 2014, the three jointly owned dealers continued to avoid disclosing important information. For example:

What’s the issue with this direct mail ad? Some important terms are buried in almost illegible fine print. To get that $179 per month payment, you’d have to pay $1,999 (plus tax, title, and license fees) up-front. And at the end of the 38-month financing term, the car wouldn’t be paid off — you’d still owe a balloon payment of more than $8,000.

Bottom line: car dealers need to be clear about their deals, and what it takes to get them. 

If you get to the dealer and the deal disappears, that’s your sign to walk away. For more on what to watch for — and what questions to ask — read Are Car Ads Taking You for a Ride?, and check out this infographic.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Good! TV ads are another area I feel car dealers are deceptive. The illegible fine print is not only too illegible, too fine but it is only on air for a millisecond. No way you can even read one word let alone a whole paragraph. I don't think even if you recorded that ad you could read it.

Fantastic!! But Its not just the "Car Dealers Ads" it's MOST ADS! ESPECIALLY CREDIT CARDS & LOANS! Nothing's EVER as good as it's Advertised & OVER-GLOATED. "Too Good to Be True, sounding, 99% of the time... well it IS"

I have been affected by this I was even trapped into buying a clear coat protection for the outside of my vehicle and was told if I didn't buy the extra protection they couldn't sell the car to me because all their brand new cars on the lot had this clear coat protection on them this happen at Toyota dealer

I love the one where they say they'll give you $3000 for anything you can bring to the lot to trade. Really? Then they inflate the price of the car you're buying to offset that amount. Yet, people take the bait all the time.

Thank you it is good to know that someone is watching!
Thank you.

The FTC is about headlines and not the consumer. Just like the CFPB. Google it!

car dealer are takeing money again and add more to payment and warily again wild cool.

traded in my '07 Nissan and still owed $11,000 on it. They not only took my car in trade, but added the price I owed onto the price of the newer used '11 Ford I purchased. I am still paying for both of them. And, when I called my old financer, they told me I didn't get a refund from when I had prepaid for GAP insurance. They gave that to the new dealer. I had no idea. The new dealer made it sound like it was such a good deal I was getting. When they sold my '07, they made out like bandits and oh yes, they could finance me. My credit score dropped 50 points with all the hits to them trying to find me financing and they did, for 6-1/2 years.

i love the scratch off cards you get in mail, scratch and if number matches you win that much... my numbers always match lol but you find out its put in a drawing or spin the wheel... funny it never matches what your numbers match !!!!

Leave a Comment