Auto Advertisement Scams

9 Ads Designed To Get You
Hook, Line and Sinker


It's hard to read any auto advertisement these days without running across some sort of deception and/or out right scam.

Even though these auto dealer ads are not a scam in the sense that the dealer could be arrested or sued, (they protect themselves with all the fine print) they are still misleading and, in my opinion, an unethical means of getting customers to the dealership.

After you've reviewed the following list, I've got a homework assignment for you that will give some extra validity to these auto dealer ads...Don't worry it's easy and you'll probably have fun.


9 Greatest Auto
Advertisement Scams

Here's my list of the 9 greatest Auto Advertisement Scams I've seen and continue to see on a regular basis:

9. $6,000 Off MSRP

Sounds good to me, where do I sign up? Not so fast, this may look good on the surface, but all they've done is apply the manufacturers rebate to the MSRP and haven't dropped the sales price a penny.

This is an extremely common tactic and the $6,000 can be replaced with whatever the actual rebate amount is for that particular vehicle.

8. Vehicles For Up To 70% Below MSRP

This auto advertisement is a bit of a spin on #9 and yes the vehicle they are selling is 70% off of the original MSRP, but what they neglect to make clear is that this is a used vehicle.

So in reality, the vehicle is for sale for 70% less then the original MSRP of $30,000, but is 5 years old and has 80,000 miles on it...Very Tricky!

Oh, did I fail to mention that it was a rental car as well...

7. Used Vehicles Discounted $5,000 For Immediate Sale

Let's see, back on Monday, before the sale started, a vehicle was listed at $12,000 and now come sale day it's listed at $17,000 and has been very generously reduced $5,000 to the very low price of $12,000.

Huh? The price is right back where it started, but for anyone that is first seeing this vehicle on sale day it looks like it has been drastically marked down for a quick sale.

A dealer can show whatever discount they want, all they have to do is mark up the price the amount they want to discount it.

Be sure to read my Kelley Blue Book guide to get a better feel for retail pricing.

6. Matching Down Payment

This one is not always an auto advertisement scam, but the bigger the figure they are willing to match, then the more likely they've marked the vehicle up to protect themselves.

This is very similar to the mark ups they use in example 7 above.

5. Guaranteed $4,000 For Your Trade In, Running or Not

Same deception is used here. If they mark up the sales price of their vehicle $4,000 then they can easily give you $4,000 for yours, even if it's only worth a dollar.

4. This $3,000 Check Is Good Towards Your Down Payment

One final spin on how they can mark up the sales price and actually make it look like the phony $3,000 check they sent you in the mail is actually worth something.

Auto dealer ads like this one seem to attract a lot of traffic and that's why they continue to use them.

By the way, lenders do not consider these types of checks down payments. If they are requiring that you actually put cash down, then this is not going to cut it.

3. This Key May Start This Brand New Car

Auto dealer ads often come in the form of mailers sent to potential customers homes and one of the most common mailers is the "Will this key start your new car?" promotion.

What happens here is that you will be mailed a key and if that key starts the car, then you win that car for Free! Sounds good...Today could be your lucky day.

OK, maybe not. The key that actually starts the vehicle is mailed out (to keep things legal), but they is usually mailed nine states away.

It's highly unlikely that someone in Dallas, TX is going to go all the way to Portland, OR to see if the key actually starts the car...That's too bad, because it probably would have.

2. $1 Down and $99 a Month

Read the fine print closely here...It should look a little something like this:

Not all buyers will qualify, payments do not include TT&L or dealer documentary fee of $395, customer required to pay cash equivalent of TT&L and doc fee, must have 720+ credit score, 5 year satisfactory credit, $99 a month based on stock #11111 (usually a 5+ year old vehicle with high miles), 84 month finance term at 5% O.A.C. Lender has final say.


1. All Credit Welcome

Of course all credit is welcome, "Come on down and we'll tell you no to your face!"

This ones not so much a scam as it just tends to be out right deceptive.

It seems that in almost every auto dealer ad I see "all credit welcome," these words tend to be right next to the $1 down and $99 a month section, along with a picture of a brand new $35,000 SUV.

This leads many customers with less than perfect credit to believe that they will qualify for this brand new SUV and it will only cost them $1 upfront and $99 a month.

All this is designed to do is get you to the dealership where they can then tell you that "I'm sorry, but you don't qualify for that vehicle, let me show you some vehicles, that are nothing like the one you came in for, over here that you do qualify for..."

It's almost like a bait and switch, but since they didn't say (they simply implied) that all credit customers qualify to buy this vehicle for $1 down and $99 a month then it is perfectly legal.



My Auto
Advertisement Summary

Read the fine print. If it sounds to good to be true, guess what? There is a 99.9% chance it is to good to be true.

Your Homework: Get a copy of your local newspaper and take a look at the auto advertisements throughout. Look at how all the positives jump out at you and how you should act right now to get the best deal.

Then take a look at the very bottom, you may need a magnifying glass, and read the fine print that basically says everyone (OK, everyone is a bit of a stretch) is excluded from the specials on this page, but hurry on down or you'll miss out:)


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