Bad experience at a car dealership? We need your story.

We want to hear your stories about how misleading or deceptive tricks and traps at the dealership led you to paying more for your car than you wanted or expected to.

R.J. Cross | TPIN

It’s no secret that buying a car can be, frankly, a terrible experience. If you’ve been misled, deceived or ripped off at the dealership, we want to hear your story.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently writing new rules to rein in shady practices at car dealerships. PIRG is fighting to make those rules strong – and your story can help make a difference. 

Share your bad experience at a car dealership here. 

We want to hear your stories about how misleading or deceptive tricks and traps at the dealership led you to paying more for your car than you wanted or expected to. In particular, we’d love to hear stories on the following topics:

Misleading advertising – I had to pay more for a car than the dealership’s ads promised. 

Example: I tried to buy a car with an advertised deal and was told the discount only applied to certain models, even though this was not specified in the ad. 

Example: I tried to finance a car at a special rate I saw in an ad, but at the dealership was told I didn’t qualify for it, even though the ad didn’t mention qualifying.

Add-on products – I was charged for add-ons that I did not agree to. 

Example: The dealer added an add-on to my finance deal without explicitly talking to me about it, such as GAP insurance or an extended warranty (among others). 

Example: The car came pre-installed with add-ons I did not want but had to pay for anyways, such as window tinting, special sealants or surface protectors, anti-theft devices, VIN etching, nitrogen-filled tires or special floor mats (among others). 

Financing – I was misled about my financing offer. 

Example: The dealer tried to change the terms of my loan after I had taken the car home. 

Example: The dealer tried to use lowering my monthly payment as a negotiation tactic without mentioning the length of the loan or the total overall cost would increase as a result. 

Other topics could include: 

  • cars with defects that dealers didn’t inform you of or refused to fix
  • cars with open recalls
  • misleading “trade-in” promises to pay off your existing loan
  • finding out about extra fees (outside of the standard registration fees & government taxes) only when doing the paperwork
  • misleading warranty terms
  • changing the offering price when they learn you won’t be financing through the dealership
  • or any other stories that illustrate shady practices at dealerships that lead to you spending more money. 

If any of the above describes or is similar to an experience you’ve had, help PIRG fight bad dealership practices. Use this form to submit your story. 

PIRG will compile all of the stories we receive as a part of our larger FTC advocacy effort. We’ll be including them in our recommendations for the FTC’s new rules. Your stories will be a crucial part of this work. You can also submit your dealership horror story to the FTC directly using this link. Feel free to submit the same story to both PIRG and to the FTC.

It’s stories from consumers like you that will help ensure the rules we get are strong and make the car buying process more straightforward, transparent and painless for everyone. 

Read more about our recent work on making car buying better:

  • News story – Earlier this month federal consumer director Ed Mierzwinksi spoke with MarketWatch about sketchy car repossessions
  • Report – Driving Into Debt: The hidden costs of risky auto loans to consumers and our communities
  • Report – Auto Complaints Rise: Pandemic worsens consumer problems with car buying
  • Report – Used Car Roulette: CarMax doubles down on selling unsafe recalled vehicles
  • Testimony – Analyst R.J. Cross testified before Congress in 2019 on predatory auto lending practices. 

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