It seems like every other ad these days shows a new car at a ridiculously low price. As is often the case with advertising, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

We’ve put together a list of common advertising tricks, to help you see through these ads and better understand what the cost of the vehicle will be.

How much does the car cost when you add in the options you want?

Car manufacturers are notorious for showing the price on the base model (and often showing a fully-loaded vehicle at the same time). We find that our clients typically add 15-30% in upgrades to the base MSRP. (See How do clients’ configured vehicles compare to starting MSRP?)

How much is actually due at drive-off?

If you put enough money down, you can get your monthly payments as low as you want them. Manufacturers often advertise $3,000 down plus drive-off. The drive-off are additional charges that can add significantly to your initial payment. Your Cartelligent agent can help you understand how much will actually be due at signing, and how changing this will affect your monthly payment.

How much will taxes and other fees add to the monthly payment?

Most car ads have a disclaimer that says “tax, title, license and dealer fees extra.” As in the case of drive-offs above, these extra fees can add significantly to the total due and can raise both your monthly payments and the amount due at signing. At Cartelligent, we always quote clients on payments that include all taxes and fees so that there are no surprises at the end of the deal.

What is the annual mileage used to calculate the lease?

Lease payments are based on how much the manufacturer calculated the vehicle will be worth at lease end. The lower the mileage the vehicle will have, the more it is likely to be worth. Leases calculated with low mileage will cost less than those that allow for more mileage, but you may be stuck paying high overage fees at lease end.

How many vehicles are available at this price?

A common trick is to offer a low price on “select vehicles” only. These select vehicles are often in short supply or come in unpopular colors. If you can find one in stock in a color you like, they can be a good deal, but it may be difficult to do so.

What incentives are shown (and do you qualify)?

Another practice is to show the vehicle with its maximum rebates. These can include discounts available only to new college grads, members of the military, or owners of the same car brand. Your Cartelligent agent can help you figure out exactly which rebates you qualify for so that you can understand what the car will actually cost.

What credit score do you need to get these lease or finance rates?

One final phrase to look for is “on approved credit to qualified buyers.” These deals come with exceptionally low lease or finance rates, but not everyone will qualify. Even consumers with good credit may find themselves unable to obtain the advertised rate.

Your Cartelligent agent can help you understand the actual price of the car and what rates and incentives you qualify for. Unlike many online services, Cartelligent can help you get a great deal on exactly what you want. Call our team of car-buying experts at 888-427-4270 or get started today.