I bought a car and now I’ve changed my mind

Car buying advice
If you have bought a car and now changed your mind, can you get a refund?

Buyer’s Remorse is very common in the car industry. You signed on the dotted line for a car. Maybe you rushed into it, getting carried away in the showroom. Or perhaps you bought one car and then spotted a better one advertised cheaper elsewhere – and now you’ve changed your mind. What can you do about it? 

On the TCE forum, Chris asked: “I recently went to purchase a new vehicle & paid £250 deposit to ‘hold’ the vehicle. The following morning I no longer wished to purchase the vehicle as I had found a much better offer. I called them up, explained the situation and asked for my deposit back but they refused. Am I entitled to get my deposit back?”

Buying a car in the UK differs from most retail industries in that you don’t usually choose your car, pay for it and drive it home on the spot. Finance, insurance and registration requirements mean there’s usually a gap of up to a week before you collect your new pride and joy. In fact, it can be much longer if you are ordering a new car from the factory rather than buying one in stock.

This waiting period often leads to the buyer reflecting on the enormity of the money they are spending, and starting to question whether or not it is a good idea. Once these thoughts start creeping in, buyers often start looking for ways to get out of their new car purchase.

If this sounds like you, then what are your options and what rights do you have?

The answer depends on whether you have bought a car from a dealership in person, bought it from a dealer via phone/internet (“distance selling”) or bought it privately.

A deposit on a vehicle purchase from a car dealer is not normally refundable

I bought a car from a private seller

Let’s deal with the last one first. If you have bought the car privately, you basically have no rights and no protections. Simples. You can go back to the owner and ask them nicely to take the car back for a full refund, but this has probably never happened in the history of mankind.

I bought a car from a dealership

If you bought a car from a dealership, your cancellation and refund rights are different if you are buying in person or buying via phone/online (distance selling).

To buy a new or used car from a dealership, you generally need to do two things:

  1. Sign a vehicle order form (which is a binding contract)
  2. Pay a deposit.

Once you have done these two things, you have committed to buying the car. The dealer takes the car off sale so no-one else can buy it, and you arrange to make payment for the vehicle before taking possession of it.

When you sign a vehicle order form, you are signing a legal contract to buy that vehicle. You are committing to purchase the vehicle at the price shown, with any extras listed on the order and subject to any caveats listed on the order.

If you are part-exchanging your old car, you are contracting to sell the car as presented to the dealer at the price listed.

Buying a car in person from a dealership
A vehicle order signed on the dealer’s premises has no cooling-off period. Once you sign it, you are legally committed to everything shown on the form.

Obviously you have consumer rights that allow you to return a faulty car for a full refund. But you don’t have the legal right to simply change your mind either before or after taking delivery. You have signed a contract and you are expected to fulfil it.

A dealer may be prepared to negotiate changes to the contract in order to keep you from walking away. But they do have the moral high ground here as it’s you who wants to change the contract.

Buying a car at a distance or off-premises
If you are buying a car over the phone or online, which can be quite common if you are buying a car located in a different part of the country, then you do have more legal protection. The same applies if you are buying a car off-premises (eg – a dealer brings a car to your house and you sign a vehicle order there).

The same applies if you are buying a car off-premises. For example, a dealer might bring a car to your house and you sign a vehicle order there, rather than you going to the dealership.

In a nutshell, you have the right to cancel from the moment an order is placed until 14 days after taking delivery of the car. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new or used car, the law is the same.

The dealer must provide you with details of their returns/cancellation policy. They must also explain who pays for the cost of returning the car if you change your mind. Their policy may include charges for returning/collecting the vehicle, but they must provide you with this information up front. You are liable for any damage you cause to the car.

What is important with regard to Distance or Off-Premises Selling is that the specific act of sale must be done at a distance. This means that you and the dealer both have to sign a contract without you setting foot on their premises.

Many dealers will try and avoid this by taking a deposit to “hold the vehicle”, or sign a draft contract “subject to viewing the vehicle”. Then the final contract is only signed when you trek over to collect the car. The new contract supercedes the old, and vehicle is technically sold on the premises rather than at a distance.

Dealers often use this technique to try and avoid their cancellation obligations under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which replaced the old Distance Selling Regulations.

What does this mean in the real world?

In reality, rather than legal theory, there’s very little that a dealer can do if you walk away from the contract before you have taken delivery of the car (after you take delivery of the car, it’s a different story).

The dealer could try and take you to court to force you to pay for the car and take it, but that would probably cost them more than the profit they would make on the sale. Which is the reason for…

Your deposit

When you sign a vehicle order, you will be usually be expected to put down about 10% of the purchase price – or at least a reasonably hefty sum of money that you wouldn’t want to lose. There’s no legal requirement for this, but it’s standard practice.

A dealer incurs costs in preparing a car for sale, processing paperwork and taxing the vehicle. They are not going to start spending money getting your car ready without a significant financial commitment from you, especially when they know you can walk away from your contract without any real repercussions.

Once you pay a deposit on a car, you are committing yourself far more than simply signing a piece of paper. The deposit is usually non-refundable, so it is a way of holding you to your purchase if you start to waver.

A deposit is also used as a way of forcing a commitment from an undecided customer. If you are looking at a nice car at a dealership, but want time to think it over or get your finances in place, the dealer will often offer you the chance to put down a deposit to “hold” the car.

Don’t be fooled. Once you give a car dealer your money, you’ll have to fight to ever get it back again.

Cancelling your order – what rights do you have?

If you signed the vehicle order on premises and later change your mind, the dealer is within their rights to keep your deposit – or at least any monies that they have spent on getting your car ready.

But they can’t really force you to pay the remainder and take the car, so at worst you walk away having lost a few hundred or a couple of thousand pounds.

You can fight them to try and get your money back, and if you battle long and hard enough you will probably get there, but it won’t be easy.

If you are buying at a distance or off-premises, then you are entitled to your full deposit back, regardless of your reasons or any money the dealer has spent.

If there is a clause in the contract that the dealer has not fulfilled, or the car is not as advertised, then you are entitled to cancel the contract and have your deposit returned. For example, the car was advertised as having 30,000 miles on it but turned out to actually have 60,000 miles on the clock when you got it. Or if the purchase was subject to any condition noted on the contract that was not met.

If the contract cannot be completed so you are unable to take delivery of the car, then you are entitled to get your deposit back. For example, you ordered a car from the dealer, but the dealer was unable to get the car from the manufacturer because production ended.

This also applies if the price goes up. If the dealer cannot honour the original contract because of a price rise from the manufacturer, and you refuse to pay the increased price, they can cancel the contract and refund your deposit.

The same applies if you fail a finance application. If a dealer takes a deposit from you before your finance has been approved, they will usually give you your money back with no problems if that application is rejected.


It’s very simple. Don’t sign a vehicle order or pay a deposit for a car if you are not 100% comfortable being held to it.

If you are unsure about anything, or want to sleep on it, then do so before signing or paying a deposit.

Even if a salesman promises that your deposit is fully refundable, you will probably still have a fight on your hands to get it back.

Don’t be talked into signing or paying unless you are sure that it is what you want. Then once you have signed your life away, do yourself a favour and stop combing the internet looking for a better deal!

You should definitely read: The Car Expert’s ten golden rules for buying a car

Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editor of The Car Expert, which he founded in 2011, and our new sister site The Van Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the car industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.


  1. Hi Stuart,

    I went to a Skoda dealership yesterday and negotiated a deal for a new car. I signed the contract, including part exchange etc and so did the dealer. I also paid a £1000 deposit. The dealer rang me this evening saying that they have got their figures wrong and cannot give me the discount they agreed and signed and are therefore going to cancel the order. Can they do this?? I said I wouldn’t agree to this and would expect them to honour the contract. The manager is going to ring me back tomorrow morning…



  2. stuart

    Hi Ian. I just saw your question on the forum and answered it there, but will repeat myself below for anyone else reading:

    You can argue it out with them, but ultimately it will depend on how wrong they got it and how long they are prepared to argue it out for. If it was a genuine error and we are talking thousands of pounds, it is reasonable to expect that they will fight /negotiate with you until you give up and either accept a new deal or walk away.

    You can try getting Škoda UK involved, and complain that their dealer won’t honour a legally-binding contract, but it may not help you that much. It may also depend on whether we are talking about a new Škoda or a used car.

    Everybody makes mistakes, and if somebody has genuinely made a mistake and made you an offer that was much better than anyone else was prepared to do, then it’s not real surprise that they screwed up. If you knew they had screwed up when you signed the order, you can’t really be upset when they worked it out. If you genuinely entered into the contract in good faith and had no idea that the numbers were not correct, you are entitled to fight them for it.

  3. Many thanks for your advice. Sorry – found the forum after I found this and thought it was a better place to ask. All sorted out now – the dealership has been really good and I’ve ended up with a car to the same specification – just with acceptable margins for the dealer. They were very apologetic about the whole thing and have even thrown in a full tank of diesel. I just panicked a bit when I received the first phone call!

    Thanks again!


  4. Me and my husband went to look at cars at a dealership today and eventually got caught up in ordering a new Citroen DS3 after they had offered various discount incentives. After the salesman had gone through the figures he had his hand over the bottom of the page and then said it was an agreement under PCP. We paid £200 deposit but now I am home I am a bit worried about the PCP. I have signed forms which I think are the car order form and finance agreement but I am basically getting a car that I have not yet seen. Can I change my mind?

  5. i paid a 100 pound deposit to view a car in derby whilst on the phone i ask the dealer if the deposit refundable if i did not think the car was right for me he said yes no problem i did not buy the car so he said he would put the deposit in the post after 7 phone calls and texts and 3 weeks later i have not got anything back from the dealer although i have texts messages saying it was in the post of course he was lying

  6. Stuart Masson

    Sorry Gail, your message was caught by the spam filter and I only just found it.

    Were you intending to buy the car on finance?

    It is normal with a new car for the customer not to see the actual vehicle they are purchasing (unless it’s physically in stock at the dealership), but you should know exactly what you’re getting and be able to see something similar. You don’t legally have recourse to change your mind on the vehicle order, but the finance agreement has a 14-day cooling-off period for you to cancel the finance. This doesn’t mean you can give the car back; it means you will have to pay for it in full if you cancel the finance.

    If you want to cancel the vehicle altogether, you will have to discuss with the dealership and you can reasonably expect to lose your £200 deposit unless you can argue that youy have been mis-sold.

  7. Hi Stuart ,
    I took delivery of my used Audi TT today,
    On my pcp contract it says the car has done 8700 miles but the car has only actually done 7400, am I in a position to return the car if I choose too because of the mileage discrepancy.
    Please help

  8. Hi Stuart, I recently bought a nissan leaf after a salesman recommended it when I told him what I needed in a car. This is an electric car which has involved a huge lifestyle change! The salesman advised that the car was suitable for my role as a social worker however I feel the car is not fit for the purpose I had made known to him. The driving range is not as much as advertised and I find I cannot drive at the national speed limit without the range depleting rapidly. I had made known my concerns to the salesman within the cooling period and was advised that I should drive between 50-60 mph on the motorway which is hazardous. Further, I need to use the motorway all the time for my job which I had made known prior to purchase. I took the car back within the cooling period and have been advised my £4,500 deposit is gone and I would need to pay a further £5K for a government discount that was given for the electric car if I give it back. I have spoken with another Nissan Dealership who advised that I should have been given my deposit back and only paid cancellation fees and mileage I have used. i have written to the credit company and CEO as I feel the car is not fit for purpose. The dealership Principal disagrees with me however he was not party to the conversation when the car as being sold to me. Could you offer me any advice? Also, could I obtain my deposit via section 75 of the consumer credit act? I used a debit card as I didn’t have a credit card at the time. Any advice would be gratefully received.

    Alka C

  9. Stuart Masson

    Hi Adam. Not sure why you’d have a problem with this, as it is a small error in your favour. In theory it means you can go over your allowed mileage for the total PCP term by 1300 miles and the finance company wouldn’t know.

    So no, you are not in a position to return the car or cancel the PCP as a result of this error to your advantage.

  10. Stuart Masson

    Hi Alka. You are going to struggle to prove your claims that you were mis-sold the vehicle, unless you can show anything in writing. If all you have is a contract and a claim that you have been verbally misadvised, there’s no reason for Nissan to consider a refund. You can claim that you were told lies, the salesman can claim that he told the truth, and nothing is proved.

    At the end of the day, you are responsible for signing a contract. It is in your interests to check any claims made by salespeople, or read independent reviews of the vehicle, or understand the new technology (we have several articles on electric cars here at The Car Expert, and there are literally thousands all over the internet, just from UK sites).

    Assuming you bought the car from the dealership, there is no legal cooling-off period in the sale of the vehicle. If you can prove that your driving range is not as advertised, you may have more of a chance in returning the car to Nissan UK, but there is no reason for the dealer to take the car back.

  11. Hi Stuart I'm in SA. Recently bought and signed a car contract in another location and wanted to buy the car for my wife in a different province. I signed the deal on the premises. Was even given spare keys for delivery of the vehicle. 3 days later I haven't received the car. I later realised that my wife is not ready and confident yet. I'm also not financially ready. I than called them and emailed that I want to cancel the deal as they have not yet received my proof of residence and the deal has not yet gotten to the financier. I called them and it sounded like they want to coerce me into continuing with the deal. What chances do I have to completely get out of the deal without loosing any money. As I have not given them a deposit. Thank you.

  12. Stuart Masson

    Hi Rupert. I'm not familiar with the laws in South Africa, but if they haven't taken any money from you then they will find it difficult to force you into anything – unless they threaten you with legal action.

    You should probably contact the finance company directly to confirm that you are not proceeding with the deal in case the dealer tries to have it activated (which is when the finance company pays the dealer).

  13. Hi I recently put £250 on a car over the phone under the premis that was just to hold the car until i could visit the dealer that is 50 miles away, overnight i changed my mind and now the dealer is ruffusing to give me my money back even though it was agreed it was refundable on the phone, i have not signed anything. If i read it right above am i right in saying this is illegal? if they continue to refuse who can you go to, to get it sorted. it is a francise for a big dealer.

  14. Hi Stuart,
    I bought a car on finance from a nissan dealer and yesterday I collected the car and bought it home. It was a rushed decision but the dealer offered us a great deal that we couldn't refuse.
    It turns out however that this wasn't the case. The car is electric and it poses a great deal of discomfort to have to charge it as much as it needs. I have a small baby and it is very inconvenient. The dealer told me that the range is 124miles on a full tank, but it turns out that this is the case if I don't use the heating nor air conditioning. He wasn't good at explaining most of the charging information and now I'm in a big mess because the car has now been collected and I realise that I have made a big mistake that I've committed to for 2 years.

    Is there anyway I could change my mind in any way?
    Thank you in advance

  15. Stuart Masson

    Hi David. Demand to speak to the dealer principal/general manager. If you are still having no luck, contact the manufacturer's UK head office to complain about the dealer's behaviour. That generally puts a rocket under them…

  16. Stuart Masson

    Hi Mariya. Are you saying that you were not aware that the car was electric before you purchased it? I find that difficult to believe, as it would require you to sign a contract and additional government forms related to the £5,000 grant for electric vehicles.

    Unless you can show evidence that you have been mis-sold, you will struggle to convince Nissan to refund your money and take the car back.

  17. Thanks I finally spoke to the manager, who wasn't pleasant until I quoted the regulation above, swiftly changed his mind. Thanks.

  18. Hello I went to see a used car at a dealer I went away to think about it decided to order but have not signed a contract put down a deposit or been sent any paperwork since then I have found a better deal the dealer isn't very happy and says I have a verbal contract! How do I stand please?

  19. Stuart Masson

    Hi Sarah. Absolute rubbish. Laugh heartily at them and stop returning their calls.

  20. Great thank you very much

  21. Thank u for that. They don't have any money from me. I cancelled the deal with the financier. But now they sent me an email stating a cancellation fee of 10 percent of the vehicle which is a lot of money. Am I obliged to give them that money?

  22. Stuart Masson

    Again, I'm not familiar with how things work in SA, but in the UK a customer wouldn't end up giving the dealer any money after cancelling an order. The dealer would have taken the deposit up-front and the customer would be arguing with them about getting all or some of it back.

    If you have signed a contract which says you must pay 10% in the event of cancellation, then they are entitled to that money.

    It will depend on whether the dealer wants to pursue the matter via legal action, based on legal costs vs. cancellation fee and what your contract stipulates regarding your obligations.

  23. Hi Stuart
    i bought a car from Arnold Clarke in February, and since then it has being to their garage for repairs over eight times, this last time it stayed with them for three weeks, part of this is because they did not do any prep on the car before putting it out for sale.

    i noe feel that this car has being ripped apart and thus lost its value which i bought it, my intentions is to reject it but if given a good discount would accept.

    i have made a complaints through the finance company but it seems their main interest is to get the car repaired without addressing any of my concerns

    can yo plese tell me my rights and best way to handle it


  24. Stuart Masson

    Hi Owen. If it was a new car, it will still be under its New Car Warranty, so any repair costs will be picked up by the manufacturer and you are going to be covered for a few years to come yet. If it's a used car, the warranty will depend on the age of the car – it may have some manufacturer warranty left – and any dealer warranty included. Either way, you will be covered for less time than on a new car.

    It it is a new car, you would have a strong case to say that the car is not fit for sale (without knowing the details of its problems, of course). If it's a used car, that is a more difficult argument to win, as there are plenty of things that a dealer could legitimately be unaware of when selling a car.

    Given that you have had the car since February, you will find it difficult to reject it, and the finance company is unlikely to be too interested in helping you – all they want is for you to keep making your monthly payments.

  25. Hi Stuart,

    My wife and I went to look at a second hand car, test drove it and left without paying a deposit. The car is 200 miles from where we live but near my parents. The next week I called and paid a deposit of £500 and it was agreed that the dealer would valet the car, fix the broken rear number plate light and provide two working keys, and that the car would be ready to pick up on 9 May 2015. No paperwork has been signed but I do have telephone notes of my calls.

    On 6th May I was told that the new keys would not be ready in time and therefore we would not be able to pick up the car on Saturday 9 May 2015.

    I have been told today that the keys have arrived.

    Where do we stand in terms of the car? We are not due to visit my parents until the middle of June so cannot collect it until then. Do the garage have any obligation to deliver the car? As the deposit was paid over the phone can I cancel the deal and get my money back? This threat to dealer may prompt them into action.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.


  26. Stuart Masson

    Hi Charles. If you have no contract, then they have no hold over you. You can cancel the purchase and walk away. They have no right to keep your money, either, but that could involve an argument and some persistence to get it back, as you have no record of why they have your money in the first place. In future, never give a car dealer money without getting a receipt immediately after payment.

    You may be able to negotiate for them to deliver the car to you instead of cancelling altogether, but it depends what outcome you are ultimately looking for.

  27. I recently put a £500 deposit down on a new car, although the car has been used as a demo with only 1400 miles on the clock, the car has not yet been registered The firm I’m buying the car from has asked for the full payment for the vehicle before it’s delivered to my address. They’re taking my current vehicle as part exchange, my problem is, I’m very reluctant to part with the £10.000 outstanding balance until I’ve seen the car. I would add I have purchased a car from the same company before, paid a deposit and the outstanding balance when the car was delivered, although the company are saying because it’s a new car the terms and conditions are different. The company are based in Scotland over 400 miles from my address, when the car is eventually delivered it will have 2000 miles on the clock, hence its not a new car. I’m just wondering what are my rights, am I covered by the sale of goods act, or the distance selling regulations? Any good advice?

  28. Stuart Masson

    Hi Steve. It's perfectly normal for you to have to have paid in advance of delivery, and most dealers will insist on having the money in their accounts 24-48 hours before the keys are handed over to you (as some banks allow the money to be recalled, meaning you have both their car and your money…). In most cases this is no different for new or used cars, so I'm not sure why they have different T&Cs.

    Dealers are not supposed to use cars for that level of mileage without registering them – 1400 miles is a lot of test drives! Hopefully you have managed to negotiate a good deal on the vehicle because it is clearly not 'new' (although it may be from a DVLA and warranty perspective).

    Yes, you are covered under what used to be called Distance Selling, meaning you can reject the car and get a full refund (although they could claim delivery costs). However, in reality a dealer will fight you to the death before refunding you and taking back what is then most definitely a used car, so you would be in for quite a battle if you tried to reject the vehicle.

  29. Hi there, I recently bought a used car which is one year old from Arnold Clark dealership, Since buying the car I am not with it, the fuel consumption of the car is bad, I found bonnet chips which were not highlighted when buying the car, overall I feel that the car is too expensive for me and I do not need a car this expensive. Do I have any way to return the car? I've tried to get on with the car but I can't.

  30. Hi Stuart.
    Great article and some really useful advice. Highly recommended reading BEFORE looking at purchasing a car and wished I had found this site sooner!
    I have placed a £1,000 deposit by credit card on a used car 150 miles away from an authorised dealer. So paper work has been signed. all dealings with the retailer done over the phone.
    Part of the great finance deal was taking out a paint sealant product (which I don't usually purchased) as part of a "kickback". At first I thought this was acceptable and felt pressured to place a deposit to secure the deal.
    Where do I stand on being able to remove the paint sealant product and would I be able to cancel the purchase and get my deposit refunded?
    Many thanks.

  31. Stuart Masson

    Hi Neil. I doubt you would have grounds to reject the car and get your money back, unless the fuel consumption is considerably worse than the manufacturer's claim – and it has to be a lot worse before you would have any chance in a legal battle.

    As for the bonnet chips, it is a buyer's responsibility to inspect a vehicle prior to delivery and get the dealer to rectify any problems. Once you drive away in the car, there is no way you can prove that the chips did not occur after you left the dealership.

    It sounds like you've bought a car which is not suitable for your needs and now you're trying to get out of it. The only way you can do that is to sell it, which will mean taking a large financial hit.

  32. Stuart Masson

    Hi Mark. As a 'distance sale', you can cancel the contract and get your money back. But what you can't do is use the distance selling rules to change aspects of the contract that you have changed your mind on. You can certainly tell the dealer that you don't want their overpriced paint sealant, but chances are they will tell you that they have just finished applying it…

    If they don't want to remove the paint sealant from the contract, your only legal option is to cancel the order. Obviously they won't want you to do that, so you are going to have to come to some agreement with them. If they have already applied the sealant, they will want to claim back the cost of it from your £1,000 deposit.

  33. Thanks for your Stuart. So it looks likes its all or nothing as far as cancelling goes.
    I have checked the finance quote and they have put this sealant into the finance, thus I am paying interest on it too over 4 years. Its not cheap!

  34. Stuart Masson

    You can absolutely try to have the sealant removed from the contract, but they will resist. Their profit margin on it will be staggering. Most car dealers I worked for had a mark-up of about 400% for that sort of product, compared to <10% on the car itself.

  35. Hi Stuart,
    My 81 year old father recently went to a dealership in Edinburgh to look for a new car. Due to his age he is very indecisive and slow (and should have taken me with him). After a couple of visits he verbally agreed to buy a car but requested a colour that the dealer claimed they would have to bring down from Aberdeen.
    The salesman convinced my Dad to pay a £500 deposit which he did by credit card. No paperwork was ever exchanged. My Dad signed no agreement. No receipt was even given for the deposit.
    The salesman then registered the car in my Dads name after obtaining his permission. (My father claims otherwise but he is easily mixed up.) Again there is nothing in writing to prove this.

    By the time the car got delivered to the dealer my Dad changed his mind. The dealer say they are keeping his deposit and seeking legal advice to recover the costs in bringing the car down from Aberdeen.

    Now my Dad accepts he said he wanted the car at first and to be honest, shouldn't have then changed his mind. However the dealer never gave him anything in writing. He signed nothing.
    I could accept them keeping the deposit but to threaten to charge for transport costs seems ridiculous. I am also furious as they could see my Dad is not the sharpest at his age yet ordered the car without any formal agreement in place.
    The dealer has written a long letter stating who said what but is is all verbal discussions. Even they can't mention any paperwork.
    Advice much appreciated as this causing my parents much stress.

  36. Stuart Masson

    Hi Paul. The good news is that whenever you pay anything by credit card, you get the credit card company’s support in any dispute with the dealer, so you can always get in touch with them for help.

    If they do not have a contract, they can’t legally pursue your father for anything. A long letter listing their recall of verbal discussions is legally worthless, which is the whole point of having a written contract. Have a read of this article of the Ten Golden Rules for buying a car – having everything in writing protects both buyer and seller. Huffing and puffing is all intimidation and bullying, and if you throw it back at them they usually back down quickly.

    The fact that they have registered the car is their problem, not your father’s. Most dealers will no longer register a car without full payment precisely because they don’t want to be left with a registered (and now used) car if the deal falls through.

    Morally, they are probably entitled to keep the deposit if your father has clearly indicated that he wanted to buy the car and they incurred costs in sourcing the vehicle. However, £500 would more than cover their costs, and they have no grounds for pursuing any further money. if they do, they may well lose and have to return the £500 plus pay your father's legal costs. If they won't back down, get in touch with the manufacturer's head office and complain to them. That normally puts a rocket under the dealership's General Manager and gets things resolved quick smart.

  37. hi Stuart. Similar problem to Chan in April. I ordered a used Audi A3 from car dealer and paid deposit to have car brought from other branch. Did this in store and signed. However, they now tell me there is a problem with the car – by this read already sold. I am happy to still buy a car from them but want same spec/colour etc. They only have a newer model thus more expensive or other colour which I don't want – set my heart on this one. Do I have any come back on this or will they just refund deposit and I will have to search again? Jen

  38. Stuart Masson

    Hi Jen. If there was only one car and it's gone, there's not much you can do. It happens from time to time – two people are sitting in two different dealerships signing a contract on the exact same car. By the time your paperwork is processed by the admin department (maybe the same day, maybe a day or two later – especially if you signed the order at a weekend), the car that was showing as available is gone because someone else bought it 5 minutes before you did.

    You'll find another one that you like – Audi has been building thousands of A3s every week for nearly 20 years, so whatever your budget and spec/colour, another suitable one will probably pop up soon!

  39. thanks for that, they have been reasonable to be honest and are looking for alternatives. Cheers Jen

  40. Hi

    I recently went to purchase a new car in person at a dealer ship. I put down a document and signed the form. I am now at risk of being made redundant and may not be able to afford the car anymore. I have not taken delivery and have only been approved for finance and have not signed a finance agreement. Am i able to cancel the purchase of the car and walk away?


  41. Stuart Masson

    Hi Will. If you haven't signed a finance agreement, the dealer won't have received any money for the car. You may well lose your deposit (or at least have to fight them to get it back), but they can't really force you to go ahead with the purchase. Legally, they can pursue you to enforce the contract (as explained above, you don't have the legal right to simply walk away), but it's unlikely to be worth their time and money to do so, and in the real world it just doesn't happen.

  42. hi there, I have just put a deposit down and signed a vehicle order form. however, even though the car salesperson said they did a HPI check, I decided to buy one myself and it has highlighted a few problems….finance still left on the vehicle and change of number plates and a higher valuation than what I have paid for it….alarm bells are starting to ring. The HPI is advising me to ask for the V5 details to check if the mileage is correct etc….but I get a bad feeling. Where do I stand with this as I have put a £400 deposit down on the vehicle and don't know if they will be prepared to look into the HPI claim and let me check the MOT and who the previous owners history etc….please can you help?

  43. Stuart Masson

    Hi Rachael. The finance issue may be the dealer's own finance rather than unsettled finance from the previous owner. Most dealers do not own all their cars outright – they don't have the hundreds of thousands of pounds available to pay for them – so they are financed on a commerecial basis until they are sold. The dealer should be able to advise if this is the case. The HPI check should also show who the finance is with, when it was taken out and how long for, so you should be able to tell whether it was from the previous owner.

    Change of plates is perfectly normal as well. The HPI check should show the full plate change history – usually it will start with a DVLA-issued number, be changed to a personal plate at some stage and then revert to its original number when that owner sells the car.

    If the HPI valuation for the car is higher than you have paid, it could mean that you have got a bit of a bargain, or that the car is not in as good a state as the average vehicle. You can discuss this with the dealer.

    The dealer should have the V5 available for you to view, and obviously you can view the car's mileage (the HPI check will ALWAYS advise you to check the mileage and V5 details; it's on all of their forms). Hopefully they will have the serevice history and some of the previous MOTs as well, so you can see the mileage history.

    It might seem like there are lots of red flags, but the probability is that everything is in order. The same issues arise with thousands of used cars every day. That's not to say it's definitely fine, but it gives you the chance to discuss these points with the dealer to make sure they are being open and honest with you. A good dealer should have no problems explaining all of the above and showing you all the information they have on the car.

  44. Hi Stuart,

    I placed an order with BMW 21 days ago which was subsequently amended via e-mail/telephone a week ago. All was well and I had called into the showroom to discuss delivery dates and the return of my old vehicle. The following day I arrived at work to be told that I'm at risk of redundancy. The vehicle was a new car order but nothing special in terms of specification. The dealer is agreeing to retain the deposit for around 12 months until such time I might be able to proceed or alternatively use the funds against servicing for my existing vehicle. Does this sound normal or should I be concerned that they'll chase me for anything else?


  45. Stuart Masson

    Hi Phil. If that’s what they have offered and you are happy with that, then they are unlikely to chase you for any other money. Make sure you get everything in writing from them, as dealership sales staff have notoriously bad memories… and they will almost certainly forget to tell the service department, who will know nothing about any such arrangement when you next turn up to have your car serviced.

  46. Agreed – for the benefit of other readers, the Sales Manager came back to this evening and confirmed by email that the deposit will be held in a suspense account for the next year. As I see it, the worst case scenario is that I lose the relatively small deposit which is arguably better than getting stuck into a deal I can't commit to. Disappointed that I'm missing out on the new car, but I'd much rather be in a position where I can walk now but go back to BMW/MINI when the time is right. Worth mentioning that my part exchange wasn't involved as I'd planned to return direct to MINI Financial Services. The feeling I got from the Sales Manager indicated that this might be a complication had it been part of the deal.

    Thank you for the sound advice!

  47. Hi advice needed, Thanks in advance for any replies. I have put a deposit of £500 on a used car at a used car dealership. The cost of the car is £15000. I have signed the deposit paperwork and the trader has put sold on the advert as he is holding it for me as it needs mot, and a fault rectifying, which the trader has agreed to do through bmw. Two days later I have completed a hpi check on car and found that it has had a colour change in the past. The trader did not make me aware of this and on the log book the current colour is mentioned. Whilst at the dealership I contacted my insurance company for a quote and they mentioned a different colour to the car currently, I queried this with the trader but he said he didn't know. He said the car is legitimate in every way.

    Do I have a right to ask for my deposit back as I feel the car is not as described?

    Sorry for the long post and thanks.

  48. Hi Stuart, bit of a strange one for you. I bought a new Skoda and took delivery on Friday. 2 days in and although the car itself is fine I really dislike the colour. The car in the showroom was white and I bought it in red which I now feel was a mistake.
    Is there any opportunity for me to go back to the dealership and change the car? If they agreed to make a change what sort of costs could I be incurring to make the change?

  49. Hi Stuart, I went to my local dealership last week and brought a pickup,ive looking at this for about a week and the salesman made me an offer on it, I took it and he set up all the finance,last week I went in and signed the contract and off I went with my pickup,2 days ago he rung me up and said he made a error on the contract and it would cost me another £101 per month on top of what I am already paying,i told him I wasn't happy and then was told I have 2 options1, bring the pickup back and cancel the contract,2,pay the extra monthly figure,please can you tell me where I stand on this
    Many thanks Steve.

  50. Hi Stuart,

    I currently have a BMW on pcp and the contract ends in March. Since I have entered the last year of the agreement BMW have been hounding me to get a new car with exclusive offers. So 10 days ago I hastily agreed to buy a car from pre ordered stock already on its way from Germany not built specially for me like my car now. However they told me I have £2500 negative equity on my current car and were refinancing it. On reflection this boosted the monthly payment £90 over budget and I have decided I'm probably better of selling the car privately and settling and starting afresh on a low monthly payment offer. Am I still in the position to withdraw my agreement to buy the car? As the payments are significantly more BMW finance have asked for evidence which I'm waiting to arrive but I've decided I am no longer interested regardless. Do
    You have any thoughts how to proceed?

  51. Stuart Masson

    The car's colour code should be located on the car somewhere. BMW should also be able to tell you the original colour for that vehicle, and the exact code. That should tell you if the colour of the car has been changed at some point.

    It is not unusual for an error to be made on the V5, where the wrong colour is listed and subsequently changed. You would need to find evidence that the dealer has repainted the car in a different colour if you are going to try and get your deposit back and cancel the contract.

  52. Stuart Masson

    Hi Lynn. It’s not strange; it happens from time to time. Unfortunately, you can’t simply swap it for another car in a different colour. You would need to sell the dealer your red car and buy another one in white. This will cost you thousands of pounds – several thousands, at least. Have a read of our article about depreciation and why new cars lose so much money for more information. Then make a list of all the things you could buy with the money you would have to spend on changing it for a white car…

  53. Stuart Masson

    Hi Steve. You're going to need legal advice on that, which I'm not qualified to give. Try http://www.legalbeagles.info for some advice, but I'm not sure what the law would state.

    My feeling is that you signed a perfectly valid contract, and they handed over the keys, so if they have made an error then they have to lump it. What has quite probably happened is that the dealer has given the finance company incorrect pricing for the car, so the finance payments don't cover the full cost of the car. If so, then it shouldn't be your problem that the dealer sold the car for a few thousand pounds less than what they should have.

  54. Stuart Masson

    Hi Rina. Based on your explanation of required evidence of earnings, the finance will not have been activated, so you can cancel that. If you have paid a deposit to the dealership, you may well lose that (or have to fight to get it back). Naturally, the BMW dealer will try to talk you out of it so you will have to stand your ground.

    Don't hand over the evidence of earnings that they have asked for if you are not intending to proceed. If the finance company needs that before approving the application, you can stall it by not providing the documents. If you hand over the proofs, the dealer could submit them to the finance company and get the finance activated as a means of trying to force you to take the car.

  55. Hi Stuart,

    I signed a contract yesterday for a new car at a Honda dealership with my current car as part exchange. The purchase will be financed with a 3 year 0% credit agreement with Honda Finance. I was not required to pay any deposit. I have now had second thoughts as I felt pressured into making a decision there and then and want to cancel the contract. I appreciate that I do not have any legal rights, however as no money has changed hands, am I likely to be able to walk away with no repercussions?

  56. Stuart Masson

    Hi Archie. You are correct in that you don't have any legal rights, but in the real world you should be OK. If they don't have any of your money, so they can't hold that over you. And there's not enough profit in a Honda Civic to warrant taking you to court to try and enforce the contract.

    Give the dealer your official cancellation in writing, and remain calm & polite if they try to cajole or threaten you to going ahead with the purchase.

  57. Hi Stuart,

    Really hope you can help. I ordered a new car from Mercedes for an A180 CDI AMG Sport 1796cc 1.8. I have just recently found out that the vehicle i have is the same model but infact a 1496cc, therefore i have been incorrectly insuring my vehicle for 6 months!. I have checked my paperwork, and nowhere does it state a 1496cc engine. Anything that does say engine size says 1796cc. Ive had discussions with mercedes and they are basically saying that the 1796cc was discontinued and no longer available.
    They are trying to wriggle out of it by saying the new vehicle order form doesnt state 1796cc, but it also doesnt say 1496cc. They also say i have been charged according to a 1496cc so no leway there either. The salesman in question who verbally told me it was a 1796cc engine has left, however, the Gap insurance, statement of needs and policy/proposal schedule all state 1796cc engine and these documents have been signed by 2 different members of staff (who should have been aware that 1796cc was no longer available).

    I am unable to keep the 1496cc as i use this as a company car, and my car allowance policy states it must be over a 1.6 engine. I have told Mercedes this and they simply say the performance/fuel consumption etc is better than the 1796 so it wont be a problem. They dont write my companys policy and if id have known it was a 1496cc i would never have purchased this vehicle!

    Ive told them i want the next model closest to engine size, and if they dont do a 1.8 diesel and the next model up from that is a 2.2 then they should give me that for the same price as what i am paying. They have refused…

    Could you please offer me some advise on where i stand? Im a single parent with 2 children and cannot afford to pay more for a car than what i pay for this one, yet cannot keep it knowing that it doesnt meet the criteria for its purpose. I am also disgusted that i have put myself and my children at risk driving around with a car insured as something else!

    Thank you..

  58. Stuart Masson

    Hi Louise. If you specified during the sales process that the engine had to be the 1.8L (1796cc) version (or made the point about your company car policy requiring a minimum 1.6L), then you can argue that you have been mis-sold and that the car is not fit for purpose – since it fails one of your key buying criteria.

    If you can't demonstrate that (ie – you communicated this requirement verbally but there is nothing in writing), this will be very difficult to prove and therefore you are unlikely to get Mercedes-Benz to agree to change the car. From the factory's point of view, the 1.5L engine does exactly the same job as the 1.8L engine but with lower emissions and better economy, so they are providing you with a superior vehicle to the old-spec engine anyway (not that this helps your company car problem).

    If you have official paperwork from the dealership which shows that the car is a 1.8L (finance paperwork is probably your best bet if you are financing the car, but GAP/insurance paperwork provided by the dealer should be acceptable), you can argue that you have been mis-sold. You can take up your case with Mercedes-benz UK (based in Milton Keynes). However, it is difficult to prove that you stipulated that your key requirement that the car had to have the larger engine.

    The insurance issue is probably not a great concern. This sort of scenario is not that uncommon, and it's not like you were trying to deceive the insurance company by understating the car's performance. Had you needed to make a claim, it is unlikely you would have run into trouble, but obviously you should update your policy now that you are aware of the actual engine size.

    You should head over to the forum at legalbeagles.info, which is a specialist consumer legal forum. they may be able to offer you some advice on how to pursue thi with Mercedes-Benz, but you are most likely going to need professional legal assistance to get this resolved to your satisfaction.

    While you are pursuing this, you should contact your employer regarding the issue. If you can show them the comparative details of the two vehicles and explain the situation, they may be happy to make an exception to their policy for you on this occasion – after all, the performance is absolutely identical (I've driven both engines, and I can promise you that there is no performance difference; they're electronically regulated anyway, so the manufacturer can make sure that they are identical with some simple computer code). There is no performance reason for them to refuse your car, as they would have approved an identically-performing car with poorer environmental credentials, so they may accommodate your situation. It may not absolve the dealership, but it may be an easier route to actually allowing you to get on with your life.

  59. Hi, I've got myself into a bit of a situation. Basically I have paid the deposit down for PCP. The car is a new factory order so it should take up 12 weeks. However because I have found a better deal and the fact this car is already at a dealership I have changed my mind. Will I still be able to get my deposit back and if so will if affect my credit history?

  60. Hi, please advise me, I seen this Mercedes on line, from Mercedes dealer, as it`s a long way from where I live, the the salesman said I could reserve the car with a refundable £500 till I view/test drive the said car, which he was happy to bring to me by the 17th. as I am disabled.
    I now wish to cancel & ask for my refund, I paid with my credit card, after I heard the news & read about the problems with Diesel cars.
    Can I get my money back, as I have not signed any contract just yet.
    Please advise ASAP via my E-Mail address.
    Thank you,
    regards, Sonny.

  61. Stuart Masson

    Hi Marco. If you have found another car at the same dealership, it shouldn't be a problem as they can switch your deposit to the vehicle in stock. If the car is at a different dealership, then you have no right to a refund. However, it won't affect your credit history since you haven't defaulted on a finance agreement (because you won't have started it yet).

  62. Stuart Masson

    Hi Sonny. Yes, as explained above, you should be able to get your £500 back.

  63. Hi Stuart, My wife paid a £100 deposit to secure a nearly new car she had seen on the dealership's website. The salesman then, because he lived not to far from us, brought the car to our home, one to allow my wife a test drive and two to allow us the chance to see that it was as described and was therefore the car for my wife. She subsequently signed the order form at our home address. Collection was agreed for 27 June and we were asked to go along to the dealership as finance forms for the remaining balance of the car had to be signed on the dealership's premises. I should also say that, whilst the car was at our address, I did ask that some works be undertaken to the vehicle, namely a repair to the rear bumper and two new wheel trims.

    Seven days later my wife changed her mind. Put simply she wanted a different car of a higher spec. She rang the dealership and when asking for her deposit back was initially told that this would be retained as the parts which were to be replaced (wheel trims etc) had been ordered. The sales man was to call us back with a decision later that day. That call never came and so when my wife rang back, she was this time told that the car had been taxed and that we were to expect the V5 log book through the post. Were we to return the log book the dealership would then refund £70, saying that the remaining £30 should be sought by means of a car tax refund from DVLA.

    So we've had two conflicting reasons why the deposit can't be refunded and to be honest I'm a bit baffled by the second reason. To tax a vehicle and register my wife as a new owner on the strength of a £100 deposit and all this within 7 days of the order form being signed, bearing in mind that we weren't due to collect for another couple of weeks, just doesn't seem right to me.

    Experience tells me it could be weeks / months before DVLA send the V5 log book and so I wonder how the dealership would sell the car again in that time.

    I'd welcome your advice on whether what i've been told is right or whether I am being fobbed off by the dealership with them having no intention of returning my wife's deposit.

    Thanks very much.

  64. Stuart Masson

    Hi Dan. Because the contract was signed off-premises, you have 14 days to cancel and are eligible for a refund. It's as simple as that. If the dealer loses money because they processed the registration, that's their problem. I can understand that they are annoyed that your wife changed her mind, but legally they have to suck it up.

    If they have spent money on the vehicle at your request, they can reasonably expect to retain money to cover their costs, but it's a grey area and you would normally agree to some sort of settlement. I would have thought that they could cancel the order for the wheel trims, but if not then it would be reasonable for them to expect you to pay for those. It's all small beer, so I would suggest you go halves at £50 each and walk away.

  65. Hi Stuart. In the end of May I went to see a car on a dealer. They had a very nice add online with excellent photos of the car. When I got there I was surprised the car wasn't on site. According to the salesmen it was recently given as a courtesy car but he show me a different car that he said was almost the same. He told me that in 2 weeks the car would be back, I left a deposit and only signed a receipt. I didn't sign any order form. After 2 weeks I called the dealer and I was told the car wouldn't be back on time and speaking with another salesperson he said the car was a courtesy car since February with the same costumer. So they had an add to sell a car they did or couldn't simple sell. I was told that sadly they couldn't replace to courtesy car. So I waited 1 week more. I waited 3 weeks and did a better deal with another dealer. I contacted the initial dealer again and was told that I couldn't have my money back. They said the only way to have it was if I have seen the car and not like it! For me this doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I waited the 2 weeks, the add online never was taken out during this time and I was honest with them: I wanted the car, they took forever, I got a better deal, you can sell your car that is now finally on site. How can I have my money back? Do whom should I complaint? Many thanks.

  66. hi Stuart I live in Canada Toronto Ontario. I went to a private dealership saw the vehicle I like told them that I wanted the vehicle. they told me in order for me to go through with this vehicle I needed to put down a $500 deposit just to do the application to see if i would get approved from a finance company i have done that. then I sign a few paperwork showing the cost of the vehicle how much the vehicle is worth what the final sale price would be. After a few days thinking about my choice,I've decided not to take the vehicle anymore. I called back to dealership, they said that is too late for me to cancel my application for the vehicle. I did not put a down A down payment for the vehicle I only gave mthem$500 deposit for the application and my pay stubs and written on paper $5,000 was going to be my down payment but I had not pay them yet. now the dealership is tellingmew if I cancel this deal I would all the financing company whatever the amount I offer the car and it doesn't make any sense I do this because the car would be sitting at their shop and I would be paying for it. I don't remember signing any vehicle release form nor did I give them any bank information or insurance information the only money I gave them was the $500 deposit for my application request form for financing I don't know what to do from now on are they lying to me or I good in the situation of not having to get the vehicle.

  67. Stuart Masson

    Hi Andre. I don't know what the law states in Canada, so couldn't advise of what your legal position would be. It does sound like they are guilty of mis-selling if you were specifically advised that you were making an application to see if you would be approved, rather than actually committing to a purchase.

    The best advice is "Never give a dealer any money (or sign anything) unless you are 100% committed to buying the car". I would take the matter up with the dealer principal/general manager, and if you get no joy there then try either the franchise head office or the manufacturer's head office over in Canada. Also try contacting the finance company directly, as they should be able to advise you of what your position on the finance agreement actually is.

  68. Hi. Great article! I would love some advice please…

    I went to view a Golf last weekend at a Franchised VW dealer. I test drove it – all was good apart from a quiet scraping noise from the brakes which the salesman said was just because it had been sitting in the forecourt for a little while and it just needed a run. I accepted this explanation as the rest of the car looked clean, and we negotiated a deal which included a part-ex for my current car.

    I paid £500 by credit card (and got a credit card receipt), but their ordering system was down so I didn't sign anything, and the salesman emailed me the form a couple of days later (which had the correct, agreed details on). I acknowledged receipt of the email, but took no further action. All fine so far.

    I was due to exchange the car on Sunday (tomorrow), but the salesman called me late on Saturday afternoon (today) to say that the valeting team had noticed a sound "they didn't understand" (the brakes, maybe – the salesman wouldn't give anything way) and that he wanted to look into it before handing the car over. But as the technicians don't work on Sundays they have to delay the handover while they investigate.

    I had arranged earlier in the week with my insurers to change my cover over to the new car on Sunday, but they're not available on weekends to make policy changes, so I had to take out last minute emergency cover (for ~£150) on my existing car to make sure I'm still insured on Sunday and Monday until I can rearrange cover. The salesman assured me that they'll refund me for this if I can provide an invoice (which is fair enough, and I planned on taking them up on this).

    On the call today, the salesman was putting pressure on me to rearrange the handover for early this week, before the end of the month (presumably to hit is sales figures), but I'll find it very difficult to take time off before the next weekend. He's going to call on Monday to try to arrange a time, once they've diagnosed the problem. I presume I can dictate when I pick the car up, within reason?

    But now I'm also wondering if I shouldn't have accepted the car due to the problem I noticed on the test drive, which now appear like it might be more serious. I'm also having second thoughts about changing my car at all (as my financial situation has changed slightly since last week).

    As I didn't sign anything, I'm wondering how likely it is that I could walk away from the deal, and realistically expect my £500 deposit back? If so, I'm resigned that I might lose the money for the additional insurance cover (which I can handle).


  69. Stuart Masson

    Hi R. In summary, Yes, they will definitely be wanting you to take delivery before the end of the month (which this time around is also the end of the quarter and and of the half-year), and it is possibly very significant to their bottom line.

    However, none of that is not your problem unless the contract states that any price agreed is only valid until 30 June. Assuming that it doesn't say that, you are bound by the normal T&Cs of a vehicle contract, which should give you 28 days to collect the car once the dealership advises that it is ready.

    It's not unusual for minor issues to show up during pre-delivery. I would guess that it quite probably wasn't "the valeting team" that discovered a problem, but more likely the service department when they conducted the pre-sale inspection. Being the end of the month (+ quarter + half-year), they are probably trying to get as many cars pushed through the workshop as possible and as a result, it hadn't been done sooner. Now they have a car that needs rectifying and very little time to do it. Had you bought the car three weeks earlier, the workshop wouldn't have been as busy and they also wouldn't have cared too much if you couldn't collect it until the following weekend.

    If you decide to cancel, they will almost certainly insist on retaining your £500 deposit, and you will certainly not get anything back for your insurance (as that is not the dealer's problem; you could have cancelled it after the car had been signed over to the dealer). You could argue that you are entitled to your £500 back as you signed the purchase contract off-premises, but they will probably fight you for as long as they can without taking you to court.

  70. I went and looked at a used car at a Suzuki dealers on Saturday 27th June 2015 and put a £500 refundable deposit down. I've had the chance to look into the history of the car and realise that it’s not worth the price they are advertising it for. On the original advert there was no mention of minor body repair work required, it didn't say that there were notices on the MOT advisory, and the advert didn't mention that the car hasn't received a full service since first registered; it’s only received a small service (oil & oil filter change).

    I’ve sent an email with a new price offer and they have said that I've signed a ‘vehicle order form’ aka their contract and therefore the price is no longer open for negotiation. My copy of the vehicle order form is not signed by me and it is NOT signed by them and prior to signing the paperwork in the showroom it was explained to me and my partner that I was only signing to say that they accept my deposit and that the vehicle will be taken off the market. The dealer said the price of the car £5,990 and the road fund license £130 is all I will need to pay (minus the £500 deposit) if I decide not to accept the dealer accessories (smart-guard £299, warranty & insurance £587) all of which are included in the balance to pay and shown on the vehicle order documents. For a contract to be legally binding, doesn't all details on the paper have to be correct? My address on the papers is incorrect.

  71. Stuart Masson

    Hi Morris. Yes, you should be able to get your money back and walk away if you want to, but a dealer is not going to reopen price negotiations because of paperwork errors. If you want them to correct your address then fine, but it doesn't give you an excuse to knock a few hundred quid off the price.

    With regard to the body repairs, MOT advisories and service history, these are things you should have checked before signing the contract. If you were not happy with any of these points, or wanted to use them as a lever for negotiating the price, then you should have done that before putting pen to paper. Once you have signed it, you can't suddenly offer them less money.

    If you don't want the smartguard & warranty bits, and you made that clear, then they should not have been listed on the contract and you can ask for it to be redrafted without those items. If you said yes to them but have now changed your mind, you will need to inform them of that very clearly and in writing before they apply the smartguard stuff or else you'll be stuck with it.

  72. Hi Stuart my girlfriend was looking to buy a seat Ibiza 5 door finally found one and it was 60 miles away obviously wanted to go down the next day and see the carso I phoned up the company and you know as they are they couldn't be more happier to help as they are and they said if you would like because it's just come in and it may move quick we can put a 50 pound fully refundable deposit down then it's off sale just until you get here and then he gave an example of one that happened not long ago where they travelled a considerable distance and the car was gone I thought he said fully refundable when we get there and that's that so went to see the car the following day and and were umming and awwing about it and they said we will ring you tomorrow nothing was signed we went out for a test drive but that's all he the phoned up the next day and said there is no spare key and unearthed some things that killed the deal and we asked for a refund and he is now telling us we can't have it back. Can you please shed some light on if I have been conned or if they are in the wrong please Stuart

  73. Hi, I have recently put a deposit down on a mercedes, signed the order form and paid £500 deposit. 2 days later I have received a call from them to say my finance has been approved but the car has sold. They told me that when I put my deposit down that the car had been secured. But are now offering me a different car which I do not want. Not sure where I stand just wondering if I had a legal right ? Thanks

  74. Stuart Masson

    Hi Kye. Yes, you are perfectly entitled to your money back, as per the article above. Also check out our 10 Golden Rules for buying a car.

  75. Stuart Masson

    Hi Georgea. Unfortunately, if the car has gone then there's not much you can do about it. There may be a legitimate reason or it may be that they have been entirely deceitful with you, but ultimately you're not going to get that car back again. However, they can't force you to take another car and you should definitely get your deposit back.

  76. I paid a £200 deposit on a Ford Focus and when i went to pick the car up i was very disappointed as the rear bumper looked like it had been painted with a paint brush and the wheels were corroded. The car was very tatty but the pictures that were on the website looked really good hence why i put the deposit down. The salesman assured me the car was perfect and i would be pleased but far from it. He said if i wasnt happy and there was things wrong he would give me my deposit back. He refused point blank to give it me back, he came up with a solution of knocking £50 off the car which then i argued wouldn't cover the cost of having the bumper resprayed and the wheels refurbished. He said "tough" take £50 off or walk away. He was getting quite nasty towards me and there was no reasoning with him so me and my partner walked away. We traveled from BATH to LIVERPOOL to get this car, and the whole experience has cost us a fortune, he lied to me after i trusted him.

  77. Stuart Masson

    Hi Jo. You are perfectly entitled to your £200 deposit back, as explained above. Unfortunately it sounds like you are going to have to fight for it, even though it is your legal right, and the dealer will be hoping that you decide it’s all too hard and give up.

    The principle by which you can have your deposit back is ‘distance selling’, as it’s an open-and-shut case. Getting into arguments about the car’s condition vs. its appearance in an online ad is not necessary and difficult to win anyway.

    For your next attempt to find your perfect car, check out The Car Expert’s 10 Golden Rules of buying a car.

  78. Hi Stuart,

    I have recently put a deposit on a second hand car at the local dealers. Shortly before this, during the test drive, I've noticed an unusual noise coming from underneath the car. I questioned the salesman about it and he said they were aware of this and the noise was caused by faulty wheel bearings (and to be fair it did sound like this could be the cause). He also said they would fix it before I come to collect the car which was OK with me. I signed the deposit receipt which contained a clause saying that the deposit is non-refundable and that I will also be liable for any costs incurred by the dealer in order to prepare my car for sale if I changed my mind. I really liked the car and wasn't bothered about the wheel bearings, however, the following day the dealer phoned me to say that on inspection they found out that the noise was caused by faulty bearings in the gearbox and not in the wheel. When I tried to back off, he stated they will fix it and give me a warranty on the job. I said 'fine' but now I doubt if I should actually buy this car. Am I right thinking that I am entitled to withdraw the agreement and to a full refund of the deposit based on the fact that I was given false/inaccurate information about the condition of the car? Well, there is a 'slight' difference between faulty wheel and a faulty gearbox…If he told me that it was the gearbox causing the noise when I first enquired about it, I would have never agreed to buy this car. Also, I am planning to take this car to the car diagnostic centre for a test before making a final decision. Would you say it's reasonable to expect the dealer to agree to this considering the circumstances? I would be most grateful for your opinion. Thank you.

  79. Stuart Masson

    Hi Anna. To be fair to the salesman, I wouldn't expect him to know the difference between a wheel bearing noise and a gearbox bearing noise – that's why dealerships have technicians in workshops. If they repair the gearbox satisfactorily, there should be no problem with the car.

    Yes, you can probably argue that the problem was not as described, and use it as an excuse to cancel the contract and walk away. But there's not much more the dealer can do than fix the issue and offer a warranty.

    The dealer should have no problem with a professional inspection of the vehicle, but they may not allow the car to be taken away from their premises to do so (since they won't have your money, they are unlikely to let you or anyone else drive off in the car). Most dealers are happy to have an AA/RAC-style inspection on their premises, and will usually make workshop space available (with notice) if the technician needs to look underneath the car and can't achieve this on his portable stands. Obviously you will need to pay for the inspection yourself.

  80. Hi Stuart,
    Thank you for the prompt reply. I find this blog very informative and I appreciate your commitment to addressing all the issues. All you said make sense and I have to give the dealer credit for admitting that the fault was much more serious than anticipated, however, how satisfactory this repair is going to be that's another story…

    As a side note, I might be wrong but my view based on my own experience as a seller is, that although the salesman might not be able to tell the difference between faulty wheel and a faulty gearbox, he also represents the company specialized in selling cars, and since he is a designated person deemed competent to give advice and opinion on the goods this company sells, his responsibility should apply not only to pointing out the advantages and good points of the vehicle but also to provide accurate information about its faults if questioned by the buyer. If he lacks the knowledge about the nature of the faults, he should then refrain from giving any information, which can later turn out inaccurate and, just as it happened to me, lead the buyer to make an uninformed purchase.

    Thank you again for you advice.

  81. Hi, My boyfriend bought a car from a small independant dealer 2 days ago, it was fine when we test drove it and was fine on the way home, but on a shopping trip later that same day the engine light came on, after taking it to a garage we found out the spark plug had gone, simple snd cheap to fix however the garage thinks it went because hot oil landed on it which could mean a hefty repair bill if this continues to happen (around half the cars value!) Can I take it back for a refund? Unsure if this could of been noticed and previously tempory repaired ( a new spark plug) by the previous owner or dealer.

  82. Stuart Masson

    Hi Jess. If you are looking to return the car as being 'not fit for sale', you will need to have more than just the word of another garage. If you have a concern with the car, your first step should be to take it up with the selling dealer. Unless you have signed away your rights, you should have some kind of warranty on the vehicle, even if it's only for 30 days. If you have a recurring problem that the dealer will not acknowledge or is unable to fix, then you have recourse to take action elsewhere.

    It's quite possibly fine, and was just a faulty spark plug. Unless you have further problems, you don't currently have any real grounds to try and return the car.

  83. Hi Stuart

    I wonder if you could advise. I ordered my car from a Ford dealership after initially seeing a Focus I wanted and agreeing a 1000 discount on their ticket price (they agreed a price match from another garage and were prepared to sell me a cheap run around until my order was made, which swayed me). I then noticed the C-Max and was told that it was £1200 more expensive.. which given I liked it more I thought it was worth it.

    I later found out the Focus and C-max are the same price, and instead of telling me at the time that she wouldn't do the discount on the C-Max I was lead to believe it was a more expensive car. It basically had me signing the contract and handing over a 1000 deposit. Had she said, 'I can't do you the price match on this, she didn't she led me to believe I was getting an intrinsically better car.'… now I want to cancel and it seems I can't, only I feel really mislead.

    Do you know if there's a best way of going about approaching the garage?

    Many thanks

  84. Stuart Masson

    Hi Janice. I think it will be difficult for you to show that you have been misled unless there is some solid paperwork to back you up. There is no obligation for a dealer to discount any car unless it is an advertised offer, and any deal that a dealer is prepared to do will depend on the car you are buying. Unless you specifically ask for a discount or to match another dealer's price, they are not going to offer it. Whilst you did that on the Focus, at the point you switch your interest from one car to another, the negotiations start again. If you didn't present a C-Max price from another garage, they are not going to volunteer to check other people's prices for you.

    If all you can offer is a contention that the salesperson has verbally misled you, it is a difficult argument to win – she could easily recall the discussion very differently, and even if she is lying through her teeth, there's not a lot you can do. All you have is a written contract that you freely signed.

  85. Hi. I put a deposit on a car and signed the order form to get the car moved over to that dealer.we were due to pay for the car and collect on the Friday however due to unforeseen circumstances we were unable to go ahead with the purchase. I have now received a V5 in my name for the vehicle so I have been the registered keeper for 2 weeks without having the car. When I asked them why this was and that I hadn't signed as a new keeper they said they did it all online so they could tax the car for us. They have now sold the car and need the v5 back from me! Is this common practice and surely they've added an extra previous keeper to the vehicle?


  86. Stuart Masson

    Hi Stacie. Yes, they probably have added another keeper to the vehicle's ownership history. Sounds like an admin screw-up. By the sound of it, you were able to cancel your purchase without too much trouble, which is good news.

  87. Hi, I put a deposit down on a new car (£250) on a Friday (It's now Wednesday morning) over the phone with my VISA Debit card but have NOT signed any documents. I have now changed my mind, so I phoned the dealer this morning to ask for my deposit back and they a said that I would have to forfeit this. What rights do I have now to getting this back?

  88. Stuart Masson

    Hi Nicholas. As the article states, you are entitled to your money back. You can quote the regulations listed above and the consumer contract regulations (which used to be known as Distance Selling). In addition, they don't have a valid contract so they can't hold your money. You should have insisted on an emailed confirmation and receipt when you paid the money on Friday, but that should't affect your right to your money back.

  89. Hi stuart, Yesterday I visited a car Trade dealership company and I like a car which is used and only 5 years old, I paid £4000 full price for the car and was given a sales invoice but nothing to sign, I was told that I cant drive away with it as the cars was due for its service and m.o.t and that once its done I can collect the next day. When the next day came I called to see if the car was ready and then I was told how the car failed m.o.t due to bushes/suspension and that they have ordered parts to have it repaired and will contact me back. Because of this I started to question the fact of how they can have the car up for sale in the 1st place and take my £5000 if the car needed service and m.o.t? However I also demanded I have a copy of the vehicles inspection report as failing mot made me have doubts about the car mechanically and its history, they have not provided me with one. Therefore I have changed my mind and I want my money back. I have not signed anything with them unless they think a hand shake is binding? what are my rights, I await your reply

  90. Stuart Masson

    Hi Ess. If they gave you an invoice and you paid it, then you’ve bought a car. A contract is an agreement to buy a car at a future date, and stipulates how much money you owe over and above your initial deposit, what your part-exchange is worth and any conditions to the sale (eg – you negotiate a service, a full tank of fuel and some floor mats to be included in the price). You have negated the need for the contract by simply buying the car on the spot, like any other retailer – Sainsbury’s don’t fill out a contract when you buy a pint of milk. Theoretically, if you didn’t have a contract stating that the seller would undertake the service and MOT test, they could have simply told you to bring a trailer and collect it as is.

    Inspection reports, service history, V5 logbook and MOT reports are all things you should be asking to see before handing over your money or signing a form – failing to provide them now doesn’t change the fact that you have bought the car. Have a read of our article of the Ten Golden Rules for buying a car.

  91. Hi Stuart I bought a car yesterday at an Audi dealership. I initially went to get an SUV and rushed into buying as the price was good and they had a great finance deal on it. Overnight I changed my mind as I am used to driving SUVs and now am not feeling comfortable with getting the car. I have signed the paperwork and paid £500 deposit. Can I change my mind and not take the car.

  92. Stuart Masson

    Hi Pamela. If you are prepared to buy an SUV from the same dealership, they will probably be happy to help you and you will not lose your deposit. If you want to go elsewhere and buy a different car, they are not likely to be quite so charitable and you may well have to forego your £500 down payment.

    Either way, you should definitely get in touch with the dealer ASAP to let them know that you do not wish to go ahead with the purchase of this vehicle. This will ensure they don't start any work in preparing the car and/or your order (invoicing, finance applications, etc – there is a tonne of paperwork) which could potentially entitle them to claim costs from you or used as an excuse to retain your £500. A phone call followed up by written confirmation (email is fine) at your earliest possibility is what you need to do.

  93. Hi – I need your help – I bought a used BMW from a car dealer via HP finance – The dealer promised me warranty and service however the dealer has now vanished! i made a case with my fiance company but all they say is they will give me 50quid! – i told them i would of never taken the car without 12 month warranty as without this saftey net i cannot afford a repair! The fiance company logo was plastered every where in the showroom and they told me MOTONOVA was backing them – 2 month on im still in complaint letters – Where do i stand? can i return the car? please help!

  94. Stuart Masson

    Presumably it wasn't a BMW dealer, as their warranty program is factory-backed and can be handled by any BMW dealership. Therefore, I am assuming it is an aftermarket warranty.

    The dealer would have bought a warranty from an aftermarket warranty provider, and should have given you all the details because there would be a specific claim process. If you don't have this paperwork, then it was possibly never set up at all.

    With the garage having closed, you have almost certainly lost your warranty, and have definitely lost your free service. The finance company is an entirely separate organisation who have simply paid the dealer for the car when you bought it, so they are not going to be at all interested in getting involved.

  95. Hi Stuart, I have ordered a Jeep Renegade in February 2015 via Pcp and put down a £1000 deposit. It's nearly 6 months now and no car, I have spoken to head office and there is no loan car no compensation and no information what is happening to my new car order and a very insincere apology from the manager I spoke to. Very unhappy right now. The car was promised in 12 weeks and then after that was promised in July. No show! Under these circumstances of not providing me with anything am I able to cancel my order and receive my deposit back?
    Much thanks on your help on this.


  96. Stuart Masson

    Hi David. Your new car contract should have a set of terms and conditions which sets out your rights in this matter. In short, it should say that if the dealership cannot supply the car within 28 days of the date indicated, you can walk away and get your money back.

  97. My partner and I went to view a car and now my partner gave her bank card details over the phone for a deposit. The money hasn't gone out of her bank account yet, however we've spotted a better deal and so I no longer wish to continue with the deposit. We didn't sign any papers, but I'm concerned she gave her bank details and that might cause problems. What can you advise?

  98. Thanks I will investigate my T and Cs.

  99. Hi Stuart. Yesterday I signed a "Used Vehicle Invoice" agreeing to purchase a second hand car for £995, paying an £85 deposit – with the dealer agreeing to give it a full 12 month MOT service and that it would have to be paid in cash as their card reader didn't work. Went home, and two hours later got a call from the dealer saying the valeter made a mistake and the car was actually £1195 – I can either pay that or get my deposit back instead. I opted for the deposit. 30 minutes later they called again and said they were sorry it's their mistake and will give me the car at the agreed price of £995 – but the garage they use for M.O.T services is currently closed for a week, and said I can take the car but take it back a few weeks later for it's 12 month M.O.T – I'm going back tomorrow and a bit unsure if I should pay and take the car without having it's full 12 month M.O.T? Thank you.

  100. Stuart Masson

    Hi Michael. If you have not signed a contract, they can't hold your money. Make sure you indicate your intentions clearly in writing, and also make it clear that you expect them to destroy your credit card details. They are required to do this anyway, and it's no guarantee that they won't try and process your deposit, but it's all you can do.

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