As Super Bowl Approaches, Exposes the Top Five Fibs in Car Ads

As Super Bowl Approaches, Exposes the Top Five Fibs in Car Ads

As Super Bowl Approaches, Exposes the Top Five Fibs in Car Ads

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — January 31, 2012 — Super Bowl car ads can be fun to watch, but if you are shopping for a new car you'll want to watch for the tricks that marketers pull off so effectively., the premier online resource for automotive information, exposes some of these illusions in its new consumer advice story, "Five Ways Car Ads Can Lie."

"Advertisers have every right to create excitement for their product, but to be a smart shopper you need to understand and interpret the language of hype," says Sr. Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed. "Once you've translated an ad into 'consumerspeak,' you'll know if the vehicle featured is a good deal for you."

According to, the five most common marketing ruses found in automotive ads are:

  1. Showing the top trim, but advertising the base price. In TV ads it's common to see a fully loaded, top-trim model of a vehicle on the screen while the price of a base model is being displayed. You might assume that you could buy the car pictured at the price presented. Wrong. The small print should clarify this, if you can manage to read it.
  2. Preposterous MPG. A hot-looking sport coupe is tearing up the landscape when the text flies across the TV screen: "40 mpg!" Granted, this car is capable of getting 40 mpg on the highway, provided you drive like a fuel-efficiency-focused hypermiler. But you won't get anywhere near that mileage if you're driving full-throttle like the guy in the ad.
  3. Lease Payments Too Good to Be True. You're innocently checking the box scores in the newspaper when you see a luxury car ad promoting lease payments for only $199 a month. If you left for the dealership right away, you might not notice the small print saying that $4,999 is required to start this lease.
  4. The Phantom Special. A local newspaper ad features the phrase "One at this price," which is a tip-off to what insiders call an "ad car." It's usually the purple one with crank windows and no A/C — cheap, but not necessarily in a good way. If you go to the dealership and ask to test drive the one-only car, it's likely A) "Already been sold," B) "Out on a test-drive" or C) "In the back of the lot, and I'd have to move 50 cars to get to it." The "good" news, of course, is that they have lots of other cars for sale. The bad news is that those cars are a lot more expensive.
  5. Rebates for Everyone — But Not You. You see an ad for the car of your dreams, listed at a price that barely squeaks into your budget. So you run down to the dealership only to find out that to get to the reduced price the dealership factored in a military rebate, college-graduate rebate, brand "loyalty bonus" or other discounts and rebates that are not available to folks like you. even has a bonus tip for those seeking a financed deal with no interest: "Zero percent financing is only for qualified buyers; if you don't have excellent credit, those advertising messages don't apply to you," noted Reed. " analysts estimate that only about one in four car buyers qualify for the lowest interest rate offered."

Full details on all of these tricks — and how consumers can dodge them — are available at

Car ads can often be filled with insider lingo and other confusing language. helps consumers decipher the meanings of these phrases in "How to Read a Car Ad" at

About Edmunds (, the premier online resource for automotive information, launched in 1995 as the first automotive information Web site. Its revered mobile site, Android App and five-star iPhone app makes car pricing and other research tools available for car shoppers at dealerships and on the go. Its automotive enthusiast Web site,, is the most-read car publication of its kind. Its highly regarded mobile site and iPhone app features the wireless Web's most comprehensive gallery of automotive photos and videos. Edmunds is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit. Follow on Twitter@edmunds and fan on Facebook at

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