21.1 Advertising Rules:
Vehicle Code section 11713.1 requires the following:
Model, year, VIN or license number required:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not advertise any specific vehicle
for sale without identifying the vehicle by its model, model-year,
and either its license number or the last six digits of the VIN.
Stock number alone is insufficient. The VIN or license number
is fixed to specific vehicle and cannot be changed, unlike a stock
- Classified ads with prices:
A classified print ad (such as in a newspaper
or magazine), which is no larger than two newspaper columns in
width, or seven inches in length, may include the price of the
vehicle without any additional cost information.
Display ads with prices:
An ad becomes a display print ad when it is larger
than two newspaper columns in width or more than 7 inches in length.
If you wish to include the price of your vehicle in a display
ad, you must also include in your ad costs for taxes,
fees and any additional charges you intend to include. The taxes,
fees, and additional charges may be stated in the ad, without
abbreviations, in substantially the following form: “Plus
government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document
preparation charge, and any emission testing charge.”
- T.V., Radio, and Website advertising:
T.V., radio, and website ads are considered “display ads.”
If you wish to include the price of your vehicle in these ads,
you must include the statement in section 3 above, “Plus
government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document
preparation charge, and any emission testing charge” with
- Document Preparation Fee:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not represent the dealer document
preparation charge or certificate of compliance or noncompliance
fee, as a governmental fee.
- Time limits:
A used motor vehicle dealer may set time limits for the prices
offered in their ads.
- “No Down Payment”, or “Zero Down Delivers”
A dealer may not advertise, or otherwise represent, that no down
payment is required when a down payment is in fact required and
the buyer is to finance the down payment with a loan in addition
to the loan required to finance the remainder of the purchase
price of the vehicle. The terms "no downpayment," "zero
down delivers," or similar terms shall not be advertised
unless the vehicle will be sold to any qualified purchaser without
a prior payment of any kind or trade-in.
Must sell at the Advertised Price or less:
- A used motor vehicle dealer must sell the vehicle at the
advertised price, or less, even if the buyer is unaware of
the advertised price. [V.C. §§11713.1(e), and 11709.3]
- The dealer must also disclose that the California tire fee
may be excluded from the advertised price (like sale tax and
Must Display Advertised Price In Showroom:
A used motor vehicle dealer advertising a vehicle at a particular
price in print, on the radio, on the Internet, etc., must post
either a copy of the ad, or post the advertised price of the vehicle,
in a conspicuous place in the dealer's showroom. [V.C. §11709.3]
- Reasonable Number of Vehicles Available:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not advertise vehicles, and related
goods or services, at a specified dealer price, with the intent
not to supply reasonably expectable demand, unless the advertisement
discloses the number of vehicles in stock at the advertised price.
In addition, whether or not there are sufficient vehicles in stock
to supply a reasonably expectable demand, when phrases such as
"starting at", "from", "beginning as
low as", or words of similar import are used in reference
to an advertised price, the advertisement shall disclose the number
of vehicles available at the advertised price. [V.C. §11713.1(i)]
“Rebates”, “Cash Back”, terms:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not use the term “rebate”
or similar words such as “cash back” in advertising
the sale of a vehicle unless the rebate is expressed in a specific
dollar amount and is in fact a rebate offered by the vehicle manufacturer
or distributor directly to the retail purchaser of the vehicle
or to the assignee of the retail purchaser.
- Cash vs. Credit – limits:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not require a person to pay a
higher price for a vehicle and related goods or services for receiving
advertised credit terms than the cash price the same person would
have to pay to purchase the same vehicle and related goods or
services. For the purpose of this rule “cash price”
has the meaning as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 2981
of the Civil Code.
- No guaranteed trade in allowances:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not advertise a guaranteed trade-in
- Salesperson’s authority to negotiate
A used motor vehicle dealer may not misrepresent the authority
of a salesperson, representative, or agent to negotiate the final
terms of a transaction.
- “Wholesale Price” and “Invoice”
advertising is not permitted:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not used the terms “invoice,”
“dealer’s invoice,” “wholesale price,”
or similar terms that refer to a dealer’s cost for a vehicle
in an advertisement for the sale of a vehicle or advertise that
the selling price of a vehicle is above, below, or at either of
- The manufacturer’s or distributor’s invoice
price to a dealer;. or.
- A dealer’s cost.
This subdivision does not apply to either of the following:
- Any communication occurring during face-to-face negotiations
for the purchase of a specific vehicle if the prospective
purchaser initiates a discussion of the vehicle’s invoice
price or the dealer’s cost for that vehicle.
- Any communication between a dealer and a prospective commercial
purchaser that is not disseminated to the general public.
A “commercial purchaser” means a dealer, lessor,
lessor-retailer, manufacturer, remanufacturer, distributor,
financial institution, governmental entity, or person who
purchases 10 or more vehicles during a year.
- “Fully Loaded”
A used motor vehicle dealer may not make any untrue or misleading
statement indicating that a vehicle is equipped with all the factory
installed optional equipment the manufacturer offers, including,
but not limited to, a false statement that a vehicle is “fully
- Lowest price claims:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not advertise any underselling claim,
such as “we have the lowest prices” or “we will beat
any dealer’s price,” unless the dealer has conducted a recent
survey showing that the dealer sells its vehicles at lower prices than
any other licensee in its trade area and maintains records to adequately
substantiate the claims. The substantiating records shall be made available
to the department upon request.
A used motor vehicle dealer may not display or offer for sale
any used vehicle unless there is affixed to the vehicle the Federal
Trade Commission’s Buyer’s Guide as required by Part 455
of Title 16 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Upon selling the vehicle,
the dealer must have the buyer sign the Buyer’s Guide, and the
dealer must then provide the buyer a copy of the Buyer’s Guide.
If the deal is negotiated in Spanish, provide the buyer with a Spanish
version of the Buyer’s Guide to review and sign.
- New vs.Used disclosure:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not enter into a contract for
the retail sale of a motor vehicle unless the contract clearly
and conspicuously discloses whether the vehicle is being sold
as a new vehicle or a used vehicle, as defined in this code.
- No Coupons or Simulated Checks:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not use coupons or simulated checks
in the advertisement for the sale or lease of a vehicle.
Dealer’s name required in
Ads must identify the dealer by the name (not just the word "dealer"
or the abbreviation "dlr.") under which the dealer does
business, or by such other name as will serve to readily identify
the dealer both to the public and DMV. [C.C.R. §262.08]
- Photo Ads:
Photo ads advertising the price of a particular vehicle must depict
the same year, make, model, and type of vehicle and not depict
options or a design not offered at such price. [C.C.R. §260.01]
48 Hour Rule:
A used motor vehicle dealer must, within 48 hours, attempt to
withdraw any advertisement of a vehicle that that has been sold
or withdrawn from sale. [V.C. §11713(c)]
- May Not Advertise Free Gifts or Services:
A used motor vehicle dealer may not advertise free gifts or services
contingent upon the sale of a vehicle. "Free" includes
merchandise or services for sale at a price less than the seller's
cost. [V.C. §11713.1(h)]
- Demo Vehicles – Must disclose
A dealer may not advertise a vehicle for sale that was used by
the dealer as a demonstrator, executive vehicle, service vehicle,
rental, loaner, or lease vehicle, unless the advertisement clearly
and conspicuously discloses that fact. An advertisement shall
not describe any of those vehicles as "new."