We have until January 8th, 2024 to submit comments to the FTC about proposed rules to BAN CAR DEALER JUNK FEES. Please visit to be heard!

Monday, April 15, 2024

Auto Manufacturers Don’t Want to Know How Much Their Dealers Charge You for a New Car

As you know, car dealers have sold virtually all their new cars at thousands of dollars above MSRP over the last three years. The prices were so high that car dealers made record profits over that time despite selling relatively few new cars because of manufacturing constraints. Most auto manufacturers also made record profits because, they too, raised their prices to the dealer by stopping dealer incentives and raising their prices to the dealers.

In a recent auto dealer and manufacturer trade journal, Automotive News, an article said that only 18% of new cars being sold in 2024 were above MSRP. While it’s true that new car prices have dropped precipitously since 2022, I assure you that nowhere near 18% of the actual transaction prices this year are below MSRP, (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price).

Auto News and the manufacturers are making this false assumption because their dealers are discounting prices below MSRP, but their dealers are also hiding thousands of dollars in junk fees and dealer preinstalled accessories that do not show on their financial statements in the price of the car. Their dealers hide this additional car markup and dealer profit under false headings like “miscellaneous income”. By doing this, the dealers also avoid having to pay their salespeople and managers a percentage of this additional new vehicle profit. The salespeople know this and are even more reluctant to remove junk fee from those added to the advertised price of the vehicle because it reduces their sales commission. To reduce price, the dealer does not allow the removal of junk fees. He allows only the reduction of the commissionable price of the car.
The true selling prices of new cars are readily available to the manufacturer and almost anybody if they truly want to know. “Transaction Prices” are a matter of public record when every car is sold. The profit/markup on a car is simply the difference between the true cost of the car paid by the dealer to the manufacturer and the delivery price, less government fees. The oft touted “dealer invoice” is a misnomer and contains thousands of dollars in hidden kickbacks to the dealer.
If the Federal Trade Commission wanted to make a simple rule that would solve almost all dealer deception, it would be that the out-the-door selling price, aka transaction price, must match the advertised or quoted price plus government fees only.

Monday, April 01, 2024

Help a Friend Buy a Car

You're reading this column now, and that tells me that you're probably an educated consumer. You hope to pick up a tip or two on how to buy or lease a car without getting ripped off by a car dealer. This is what educated consumers do. They read, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and communicate with others who share information.

As the old expression goes, "I'm preaching to the choir." Those who need this information the most are consumers who don't read columns like this or avail themselves of other sources of consumer information. I'll bet that the percentage of those who subscribe to Consumer Reports who are victimized by car dealers is very, very low.

This is why I'm asking you to share your expertise with others less fortunate than you. Those who are taken advantage of by unscrupulous car dealers are those who are very young, very old, or lacking in education, and those whose first language is not English. It also includes people who are simply too trusting, and not sophisticated in legalities or the art of negotiation. We all know people like this because they comprise most consumers and are all "fish in a barrel" for car dealers.

To thank you for joining Earl's Vigilantes, I'll send you a vigilante cap with the logo when you fill out the application at