A consumer class action settlement affecting tens of thousands of Alaskans who purchased vehicles from one of the largest automotive dealers in the state has gained preliminary court approval.

For five years, Lithia Motors dealerships engaged in sales practices called deceptive and illegal by opposing lawyers, according to court documents.

A $199 dealer fee was added to the advertised price of vehicle.

"They would convince people it was just part of the cost," said Chris Bataille, a lawyer representing consumers. "But you can't add that on top of the advertised price at the end of a transaction."

An estimated 23,000 consumers paid the fee between October 2002 and April 2007, which totals nearly $4.6 million.

Anyone who purchased a vehicle from Lithia during those years should soon receive mail requesting that they apply for compensation. $250 cash and $200 in vouchers will be provided to anyone who qualifies.

Over a span of more than a decade, Lithia allegedly increased the interest rate 3 percent over the bank rate without disclosing the increase. 

Anyone who financed a vehicle through Lithia between October 2002 and this June will receive $150 in cash and $300 in vouchers if their claim is approved.

There is no exact number of people expected to be eligible, but "there are certainly thousands of customers in this class," according to a release.

The settlement group's website has for more information on how to file a claim.

KTUU requested comment from multiple dealerships named in the settlement agreement, the law firm representing the company and a corporate office. All declined to comment.

This is a developing story. Please watch Channel 2 Newscasts and check for updates.