Can a dealership sell a car for more than the advertised price?

Let’s say you found a great deal at a used car dealership – a stylish sports coupe with a shiny coat of paint and the extra power of a V6 engine. The salesperson tells you the car is in “mint condition,” has never been in an accident, and has low mileage. You proudly drive off the lot, thinking about your next road trip. But soon after, you learn that the car was in a major collision with significant body damage, and the odometer has been rolled back. The car dealer was clearly not truthful with you. This is known as automotive fraud or misrepresentation, and it is illegal.

Automotive fraud is a broad term that encompasses tactics such as selling a car above the advertised price, misrepresentations about financial terms, and the sale or leasing of cars without proper disclosure of known defects or dangerous conditions. Automotive fraud extends to purchases of used and new cars alike.

Car lease fraud occurs when dealerships misrepresent to a consumer that he or she is buying a car, when in fact they are signing documents for the leasing of the vehicle. Leases are usually less desirable for many consumers because they can’t sell or trade in the car to reduce the cost of their next vehicle. Therefore, leases are more profitable for dealers and finance companies.

Surprisingly, dealerships try to sell cars for more than the amount originally advertised on a regular basis. Many claim that the listed price was simply an “accident,” or that the online ad you saw was wrong. Regardless of their excuse, they cannot sell you a car above the advertised price. If you have recently bought a car and suspect wrongdoing by the car dealer, you may be the victim of automotive fraud. You are protected under consumer law and can choose to file a lawsuit with the help of an auto fraud attorney. 

Exceptions to the rule

When you buy or lease a car, most finance managers or sales consultants will try to sell you add-ons. If the customer asks for other features to be added to the car, such as new rims, the price will increase, and the dealer is within their rights. Upgrades can be included in your financing, so you don’t have to pay the full price upfront, or are covered by your car warranty and can be serviced at the dealership if they fail.

Dealerships often use these features as a way to justify selling for more than the advertised price. Some add-ons are of questionable value, have massive markups, or can be found elsewhere for a fraction of the price. And because add-ons don’t typically add value to a vehicle, they can leave you with an auto loan balance that’s far higher than the car’s resale value. 

Do you need an auto fraud attorney?

An auto dealer fraud attorney can help you fight malicious tactics such as failure to disclose damages, price packing, and misleading dealer add-ons. If the dealership sold a car above the advertised price, you could sue for automotive fraud. These lawsuit cases are typically quick and more lucrative for both consumers and attorneys if proven. Juries and judges are particularly sensitive to fraudulent coverups of serious defects with vehicles or other major consumer items. 

Are you the victim of automotive fraud and have tried to contact the dealership? If so, contact an auto fraud attorney today. Robert F. Brennan has handled thousands of California lemon law cases, with favorable settlements and verdicts, making him the best for all attorneys practicing lemon law in California.

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