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No, car dealerships don't have to stick to that MSRP sticker

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price is just that: a suggestion or starting point.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The American car market is still not at pre-pandemic levels. Car inventory is down, so it's more expensive to buy many cars.

For those looking to buy, consumers have questions about what's fair to pay at the dealership.

Ryan P. emailed WCNC Charlotte's Verify team, saying he was at a Hickory car dealership and noticed a car quote nearly $20,000 higher than the suggested sticker price. 

He wanted to know if dealerships can do this.


Do car dealerships have to sell cars at the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)?



No, car dealerships don't have to stick to that MSRP sticker.


MSRP means just what it sounds like: the price the product's maker recommends for the point of sale.

According to Kelly Blue Book, the law requires MSRP window stickers on every new car for sale.

Silver explained a few factors in that price.

"Demand for the vehicle, whether it's a new vehicle, whether there's competition in the category for the vehicle, and basically any assessment of the market," Silver said.

A dealer can set its own retail price, as long as the dealer decides it on its own, according to FTC regulations.

"The MSRP is not the absolute price," Silver said. "It's the suggested price. So there's wiggle room either way. And it's likely you're going to pay a little more for that if there's a lot of demand for that vehicle."

Silver said ultimately, dealerships are in the business of selling cars and moving inventory off their lots. He suggested doing research online before going to a dealership.

"Consumers have so much information at their fingertips right now, whether they're looking at Kelly Blue Book or other car sites online," Silver said. "They can do a lot of comparison shopping even before they go into a dealer."

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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