Do Dealerships Put Fake Badges On Cars?

Illustration for article titled Do Dealerships Put Fake Badges On Cars?

Despite the fact that dealers are getting better at adapting to more savvy car buyers, some lots will still resort to all kinds of tricks to deceive customers. Would they stoop so low as to put a fake badge on a car, and falsely claim the vehicle is better than it really is?

I’ve met dealership employees who couldn’t tell you what’s under the hood of the car they’re trying to sell without checking the window sticker. I don’t really fault them for that—a lot of salespeople are interested in sales, not cars. However, I’ve never heard of someone who deceptively tried to sell a car claiming it had an upgraded motor when it didn’t, until recently.

Last week I stopped to get coffee on the way to work. I pulled into a spot and an older gentleman pulls in next to me in a “rental-spec” white Dodge Charger. The dead give away that this car was a V6 base model was the tiny base model wheels. But as I got out of my car, I immediately noticed two stacked badges on the side. The first says “6.4 L” on top of “HEMI.” These badges were clearly bought after the fact and tacked on. I know full well this car did not have the 6.4 liter HEMI V8 under the hood.


Those wheels were a dead giveaway. Why would a V8 Charger have such small ones?

Usually, when I see a car that is rocking some fake badges, it is more often than not driven by some young bro active in the YouTube comments. Normally, I would just shake my head in silent disapproval and move on, but something about this driver and this car bothered me.

It just so happens that the Charger driver and I exit the store at the same time. I couldn’t help myself and I opened my big mouth.

“Hey man, nice Charger,” I said.

The older fellow says, “Thanks, it’s got a Hemi.”

“Nice... I didn’t know the Hemi came with that wheel package,” I said.

He responds, “Oh yeah, the dealer told me it was a special package.”

“Special package... interesting,” I said. And then I went about my day.

I didn’t have the heart to tell the guy that despite those stickers, he is probably missing at least 150 horsepower, but I learned the hard way that it is best to keep people happy in their ignorance. Maybe it really was a V8 Charger with, inexplicably, small wheels; but I doubt it.


I still had so many questions. Did the guy put the fake badges on only to tell people that he bought it that way? Did the dealer actually put the badges on to sell a V6 car at a V8 price? Or maybe the car came in as a trade with the fake badges and the dealer never bothered to remove them. I’m afraid this mystery will go unsolved.

This is not the first time an older customer would take a salesperson at their word, nor is it unheard of for a dealer to slap some fake badges on a Charger. It’s one thing if an owner has a silly need to poser up their ride; it’s another for a dealership to actively use this as a means to get customers to pay more.


So I’ll turn it over to you my fellow Jalops. Have any of you heard of this happening, or experienced it yourselves?

If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at and be sure to include your Kinja handle.


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I haven’t heard of fake badges where I live, mainly because the real performance trims are plentiful and because people will catch on instantly. Hopefully someone else here will name a dealer that does fake badges. I’d like to hear how the dealer gets away with it.

What I do know is that dealers keep doing this (not my picture):

And to me this ruins the look of the car. Immensely.