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Buying a car can be like walking through a minefield of tricky sales tactics. Some sneaky dealerships use tricks to squeeze extra money out of customers. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is stepping in to stop these practices with a new rule called “Combating Auto Retail Scams” (CARS), starting in July 2024. Let’s take a look at four common scams and how this new rule will help protect car buyers.

1. The Bait-and-Switch
Ever see an ad for a car at a super low price, only to find out it’s not available when you get to the dealership? That’s the bait-and-switch. Dealers use this trick to lure you in with a good deal, then push you towards a more expensive option. But under CARS, this kind of false advertising will be illegal.

2. Feeding You Junk Fees
You’ve agreed on a price for your car, but then you’re hit with extra fees you never agreed to, like charges for unnecessary warranties or services. These hidden “junk fees” can add up fast. With CARS, dealers will have to get your permission for every fee upfront, and you’ll have the right to say no to anything you don’t want.

3. Targeting the Troops
Military members are often targeted by shady dealerships, who might lie about discounts or benefits. CARS makes it illegal for dealers to lie about their military connections or spread false information to military families.

4. Burying the True Costs
Sometimes, the final price you’re quoted doesn’t match what you actually pay because dealerships hide fees or leave out important costs. Under CARS, dealers will have to be upfront about all the costs involved, so you know exactly what you’re paying for.

The New Road Ahead
While some groups, like the National Auto Dealers Association, are against the new rules, many consumer advocates are happy about the crackdown on unfair practices. The FTC estimates that CARS will save car buyers billions of dollars and millions of hours of hassle each year. So while car buying might always be a bit stressful, at least you can feel more confident knowing you’re not being tricked.


4 Sneaky Car Dealership Scams That Will Be Illegal in 2024 (

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