Motor Vehicle Commission: Steer Clear of Deceptive Automobile Advertisements

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 | 09:58am

NASHVILLE – Buying a new car can be an exciting time for shoppers, but a deceptive auto advertisement can ruin things and cause headaches later on.

The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission, which is part of the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s Regulatory Boards, wants to keep consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to car shopping this summer by providing simple tips and an educational video to help avoid misleading advertisement claims.

“While Tennessee’s motor vehicle laws protect consumers, the best defense against deceptive automobile advertisements is education,” said Assistant Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “By educating Tennesseans about automobile advertisement regulations, we hope to equip them with confidence in making their next vehicle purchase.”

The Motor Vehicle Commission encourages consumers to remember these basic guidelines regarding automobile advertisements:

  • Advertisements for new vehicles must indicate the vehicle’s stock number.
  • Keep a copy of the advertisement or take a screenshot and reference it.
  • Call ahead and make sure the advertised car is still on the dealer’s lot. Reference the stock number.
  • If the vehicle on the lot isn’t what is being advertised, you should steer clear.
  • Beware of balloon payments. Balloon payments promise you a temporary low price in order to entice you into signing a deal. But once you sign, the remainder of the loan is much, much higher than you thought.
  • When it comes to payment advertisements that focus on how much you’ll pay, the ads must include all costs, charges, and any fees payable.
  • Avoid dealers who claim “We are Number one in car sales!”, “Name your own price” or “Lowest price in town!” Those are unsubstantiated and misleading claims and are prohibited.
  • All advertisements must identify the dealer by their business name and/or their state issued dealer license number.
  • Consumers should only buy a vehicle from a licensed salesperson or motor vehicle dealer.                                                    
  • Before you buy, visit to check the license status of the salesperson or the dealership you’re visiting.                                                                 
  • For a complete listing of automobile advertisement regulations, visit                                                                  

Questions? The Tennessee Motor Vehicle Commission is here to help. Visit us online, call 615-741-271, or email for more information.