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Whether you’re excited about buying the car of your dreams or just trying to make your budget stretch to get reliable transportation, the car buying process can be stressful. It can also be costlier than expected, because of misleading ads and hidden fees at the dealer. The FTC’s new Combating Auto Retail Scams (CARS) Rule aims to change that by stopping bait-and-switch tactics and hidden fees.

Here’s what the Rule means for car and truck buyers like you.

Pricing and payments

  • A dealer must tell you the offering price, which is the full price of the vehicle. The offering price must include all costs and fees EXCEPT for required government fees, like taxes and license and registration costs.
  • If a dealer is quoting monthly payments, they must tell you the total amount you’ll pay for the vehicle. And if they offer you a lower monthly payment, they must tell you if it will raise the total cost of the vehicle.

Add-on products or services

  • You have the right to refuse any products or services that increase the price of the vehicle. Like what? Rustproofing, protective paint coatings, extended warranties, guaranteed asset protection (GAP) agreements, and wheel and tire warranties.
  • A dealer can’t charge you for products or services that have no benefit like
    • a duplicative warranty
    • a service contract for oil changes on an electric vehicle
    • nitrogen-filled tires that contain no more nitrogen than normally exists in the air
    • a GAP agreement that doesn’t cover your vehicle or your neighborhood or other parts of your deal

Real consent for all charges

  • A dealer can’t charge you for any item unless they’ve told you what it is and how much it costs, and you’ve agreed to the charge.

The CARS Rule will make it easier to shop around for a vehicle based on the actual price. And the FTC estimates that car buyers will save $3.4 billion per year.

Stay tuned in the weeks and months to come for more advice about buying a car or truck at a dealership.

[Note: This blog was updated on January 24, 2024 to remove the Rule’s effective date. The rule has been paused pending judicial review.]

New CARS Rule will protect car buyers and honest dealers.

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Karen Harris
December 13, 2023

Is there a way that people can be compinsated now for vehicles purchased that have been taken advantage of before the July 2024 rule takes effect? We know about it now, so what can we do and who can we speak with to help look over our purchase orders. I have to pay Full coverage Insurance in my purchase order PLUS, I had to get Full coverage Insurance before I could drive off the lot. This seems to be a bit pricey. Amongst other things in my purchase order that I would like sommeone to review and see if I can get some of my money back. My car will be paid in full June 24th 2024 with 6 years 100% on time payments. A month before this takes effect. I know about CARS now and I want to find out what all I was taken for. yes, no, maybe so...

December 13, 2023

About time something to help the consumer

Ray Jusak
December 13, 2023

I am very glad to hear of this new CARS rule. I tried to purchase a new car for the advertised price and when I was handed the purchase papers they listed more than $3,000.00 over the agreed upon price. Nothing was said about the overage until I asked and was told something like, "Oh, those are standard charges for dealer costs". I walked out.

Si Bi
January 02, 2024

In reply to by Ray Jusak

There are just so many, many similar examples when you read online reviews of some car dealers. As in your case, so often it only comes to the fore right at the end of the transaction process, when a great deal of time and effort has already been spent to get to that point. The new CARS Rules will almost certainly combat a lot of that type of thing from happening.

Mary N
December 13, 2023

This is great news except for the arbitrary start date of July 30. If it can’t go into effect Jan 1 like a lot of new laws, why not the next quarter April 1?

These new rules are important to consumers. I bought a new car in October and had to decline an $1199 package that included nitrogen and 4 other items. These were NOT listed on the Monroney sticker but dealer add-ons. Always ask for the OTD Out The Door price. Also ask them the Buy Rate if you are seeking financing through the dealer. The Buy Rate is the APR THEY are offered by the lender, then they jack up the APR a few points when they present an offer to you. Best to go in with a pre-approved offer on your own, but if you don’t, be prepared to haggle on the APR as well.

December 13, 2023

I've had many of the problems listed in this article. I also know of many other people who have had similar experiences. I hope with the help of the FTC that some of these deceitful practices will finally begin to end. And to the people here saying they've never had anything but good experiences at dealerships, I say you need to get out more. These things have happened to millions of Americans.

Gail Chester
December 13, 2023

Two of the clients I've seen recently have been charged over $1000 for warranties on new cars that already have manufacturers' warranties. The warranties did not extend for a longer period, and neither consumer agreed to the purchase--it was just added on by the dealer. One of them discovered it and tried to cancel the warranty, then paid off the price of the car, but the finance company kept dunning her for the warranty. I hope this rule gets enacted!

December 14, 2023

A great benefit for the consumer. Thanks.

Manuel G Cobia…
December 14, 2023

This is a great public service announcement. I think this would be better served if it took affect at the new year. In addition, dealers should be forced, to have the above wording as part of their paperwork a prospective buyer needs to read.
A buyer should not have to go thru all the turmoil and lengthy process of a court trial (if needed), just to purchase a vehicle. This a first step, but, in the right direction to help consumers. Thank you FTC!

December 14, 2023

Have bought both new and used cars over the years. I have learned that anytime the dealer pushes (hard sells) add one, it’s time to run out the nearest door!
When the Mazda dealer tried to explain the repair and compared it “to a sewing machine “ because I am a woman, I ran.
The Dumb Brod Treatment “ is another reason to fight

December 14, 2023

All fine print that are typically labeled "Other Important Ageements" that are on backsides of primary contract pages, yet include binding obligations should be considered an Obscure Adhesion Contract unless each line item is purposely pointed out by dealer & initialed by purchaser. If not, these hidden fine print "Agreement" need to be ruled unenforceable.

Andrew Pena
December 14, 2023

Very good topics to understand about how now our Society is so Corrupt. Great news how the FTC is helping AMERICANS.

December 14, 2023

Buy a 1-2 year old used car from a Private party. That's the answer. This way the original owner takes the depreciation. Then you have no dealership to deal with.
There is NO other way to buy a car and save money.

frankie ho
December 18, 2023

I read an article regarding Toyota plans to sell their cars directly from factory instead of dealers.

Hope that is real and do it asap.

December 18, 2023

This is a good first step. I remember buying my Toyota in 2022. New from the dealer, on the lot. They wouldn’t sell it without dealer options - it was a seller’s market. To make things worse, the over $2,000 “anti-theft” device that’s on “every car they sell” was not even installed - so I had to go back to have them install a $10 dollar device I didn’t want the next day. Toyota allowed this practice, so I believe this is the right move. I have the car and have never used the device (only fixed the wiring job when it started shorting out the car). Dealerships need regulation like this.

December 18, 2023

Thank you

December 20, 2023

What can you do if they break these laws but you already bought the vehicle? Sue them?

January 02, 2024

In reply to by Lucas

I would definitely look into it! An attorney would likely take part of your settlement if you were to win, but getting something is better than nothing. Don’t wait.

December 21, 2023

What about buying a used car and was told it was a great vehicle and breaks down 1 st week after you got it? Did not buy from a dealer but a garage business.

January 02, 2024

In reply to by Veronica

Look up your state’s Lemon Law. Try your state’s website for the Attorney General or Consumer Affairs. You may have to do a bit of research depending upon where you live. Don’t wait! You may have time restraints. Good luck!

December 27, 2023

What this rule failed to implement is to force dealers to adversize out the door price. This can be easily done as Tax, tile and registration do not depends on the buyer. Only the monthly payment will depends ont he buyer, and it is the only thing that cannot be advetize. Dealers can charge documtns fee up to max allowed fee saying it is a state mandate fee and law requird fee. Just last week when I as in a delership they told me $150 document fee is required by law, Hower state law deos not required a doc fee, but suggest is "should be agreed on parties". Dealers are lying to get the buyers to their lot and say thet the car that was discissed over the phone or eamil has been sold.atleast this law addess that part.

January 02, 2024

My husband and I bought a used vehicle June of 2022 they never told us about rust under the car, they gave us a title the DMV said it wasn't a good title. Then gave us another updated title. Well we got our vehicle registered. But the police told me my plates are invalid the vehicle comes to someone else's name. Come to find out their was a lien on the title. We got the paper work from the previous sellers bank a release. Well I can't register my vehicle because the title is invalid. We are stuck what are our rites how did the dealership have the ability to just keep giving us titles. Thank you

January 02, 2024

The problem is what is the penalty for violating the rules. Unless the penalty is significant it will not work. It should include the dealership, managers and sales personnel and a big sign stating number of times this dealer and its personnel have violated the rule. There must be a no-sales period after 3 violation.

Jim West
January 02, 2024

Too little, too late…

Bob Rose
January 02, 2024

Most states already have actual laws against these tactics. this is just Unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats at work turning us into a Communist society. Tenth Amendmentsays The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States.
Why do we even have a legislature if bureaucrats make law?

Randolph kristoff
January 02, 2024

I bought a jeep before COVID and found out after purchase that they added duplicate warranty and gap protection to my contract so I was charged high interest on those items also,it has ruined my credit because of info finance company submitted to credit beau

January 09, 2024

Great I have had 2 experience that would qualify. One salesman said he made no money on the sale. It was my first buy so I.... wrote. Well you get the picture to embarrassing to tell. 2nd time I bought a car with a boss stereo system in it and they removed it just before the purchase saying it was too expensive for the price it was selling for.? Said they would replace it never did. Bought a warranty full cover. They have yet to cover anything but 1 tow.

Levi Berg
January 09, 2024

This will help for future purchases. There needs to be regulations placed on this industry and salesmen need to be required to take automotive courses because many don't have full knowledge about the mechanical aspects of the cars that they sell. Next industry Housing

D. Rob Johnson
January 09, 2024

Usually we already have plenty of laws that would apply to a fraudulent seller or buyer of goods or services. I think we do for automobile purchases, but as a former pro-consumer advocate that has worked for legitimate dealerships in the Midwest (sales, service & body shop) the words "buyer beware" will always apply. With high rates of employee turn over even the most ethical dealership on the planet can end up with a bad actor that's doing things that takes a minute for the dealership management notices. All consumers and dealership employees need to keep their eyes open to these things and I feel such a law will bring pro active awareness and consumer caution to those purchasing a vehicle. I have personally seen the good, bad and very ugly and sometimes it's all been from the same desk. In the past year I had a friend come to me with questions after their husband had brought home a pre-owned truck that he purchased from a local dealership. Looking over the contents I noticed they were charged for an extended warranty, yet the customer signature was missing from the contract and of course the customer didn't know about it. There was also a discrepancy with the trade in "pay off" by a few hundred in dealers favor. I think all of them should of been out in jail and hopefully this new laws helps as Intended

Rick Thomas
January 17, 2024

Don't let the NADA pressure you into diluting or postponing the rule! Every car buyer has been pressured by dealer tactics at one point in their car-buying experience. And it's been going on for decades. Please put a stop to it! Thank you for all your efforts!