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Don't deduct CARS voucher from ad price: BBB

November 15, 2010

The Better Business Bureau has seen new-vehicle advertisements by dealers and manufacturers where amounts attributable to the CARS voucher program are deducted from the advertised price of vehicles. That is a violation of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Advertising Regulations.

The federal Car Allowance Rebate System allows for $3,500 or $4,500 vouchers for consumers with qualifying trade-ins and new vehicles. But many consumers will not qualify for the vouchers.

Therefore, an advertisement that includes a deduction of either voucher amount from the advertised price of new vehicles violates section 475.310 of the state regulations because not all consumers will be able to purchase the advertised vehicles at the advertised price. 

Rule 475.310 states: "It is an unfair or deceptive act to advertise the total price of a motor vehicle without including in the advertised price all costs to the purchaser at the time of sale, or which are necessary or usual prior to delivery of such vehicle to the purchaser, including any costs of delivery, dealer preparation and any other charges of any nature; provided, however, taxes, license and title fees and a documentary service fee, as defined herein, may be excluded from the advertised price if clearly disclosed in the advertisement that these costs are excluded from the advertised price. Purchasers shall be able to purchase all vehicles described by the advertisement at the advertised price."

The BBB advises both dealers and manufacturers against deducting any amount from the advertised price of vehicles that is attributable to a CARS voucher because not all consumers will be able to purchase the advertised vehicles at the advertised price.

 The BBB has issued and will continue to issue letters of violation to dealers and manufacturers who violate Rule 475.310 in this manner.  In these difficult economic times it is important that all rules governing automotive advertising be followed by dealers and manufacturers not only for the benefit of consumers but also for a fair marketplace among dealers and manufacturers so everyone is operating on a level playing field.

If you have any concerns or a complaint about any current advertising practice please submit them to Jeannette Hernandez at 312-245-2522 or

As a reminder, all complaints and correspondence remain confidential.