Rule 2. Never give a car dealer money unless you’re 100% committed to buying the car
Giving a car dealer a deposit is basically the same as signing an order form – you are saying “I agree to buy this car”. Again, you don’t need to pay a deposit for a test drive, a quote or anything else.
It’s common sense, and no different to any other retail store – if you are paying money for it, you’ve bought it.
You should only need to pay a deposit on a car once you have signed an order form (contract) to purchase it. Handing over money without a contract will usually end in tears.
If you have to pay a dealer money over the phone to secure a car, get an email confirmation immediately, and a proper receipt in the post that day (see Rule 8). But it would have to be a pretty special car to hand over money without seeing it (see Rule 9).
When you do give a car dealer any money, make sure you get a proper receipt (see Rule 8). Make sure the receipt specifically states what the payment is for (eg – deposit for purchase of Ford Fiesta, reg. AB15 CDE).
If you end up paying a different amount to what is shown on the contract (it can happen, for a number of reasons), get the contract re-written to match what you have actually paid. No exceptions.
Next page: The fine print is unbelievably important