Independent, impartial advice for car buyers and car owners

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Car buying advice

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

What are your rights if you want or need to cancel that car purchase?

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 a car at one dealership 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.

If you bought a car from a car dealer is not normally refundable
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 a 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.

You may also like: The best websites for buying a new or used car

I bought a car from a dealership

If you are buying 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 basically bought a car and you are expected to honour your contract. 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. In other words, you’ve bought a car.

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 from a dealer over the phone, or online, then you actually have more legal protection than if you buy the car in person. This is called an ‘off-premises’ sale, and is also referred to as ‘distance selling’.

The same applies if you are buying a car in person but not at the dealership. For example, a dealer might bring a car to your house and you sign a vehicle order there, rather than you going to the dealer’s premises to buy a car.

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 overall sales process must be done at a distance. This means that you and the dealer both have to agree the purchase (and preferably 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 paid for the car (after you have handed over your money, 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 bought a car 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, a car may have been 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 you want to sleep on it, then do so before signing or paying a deposit. It much harder to get your money back afterwards once you’ve bought a car than it is to not hand it over in the first place.

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 and bought a car, 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

This article was originally published in August 2014 and was last updated in May 2019.

Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive 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, I have agreed to buy a Mini and have already exchanged my BMW with Mini who are paying off the balance. I have not signed the Finance/PCP agreement yet but have signed an order form and completed the part exchange on the BMW. Am I able to cancel the mini as I have lost my job and cannot afford the payments?

  2. Hi Stuart.
    Please you advise if this counts for company cars as well? My company fleet service partner has ordered me a car and I no longer want it but they won’t cancel. It’s not due for another couple of month, should I be covered by this and have the right to cancel or is it different as the company has ordered?

  3. i Stuart. I bought a second-hand Mercedes GLC 2016 from a Lexus dealership 16 days ago. When it arrived there was a fault as they serviced it but could not get rid of the service due light. This meant I could not read anything on the cocmand screen They told me to get the job done and they would pay. After three calls they have not. However the real problem for me is I’m finding it difficult to get in and out of the car due to my age (77) and mobility. It’s smaller than my orevious 4×4. I bought the car off premises online and cannot see any paperwork stating I have 14-days cooling off period. It was delivered to me free of charge from Birmingham to Essex. Where do I stand – thanks Peter.

    • Hi Peter. If you bought the car off-premises or online, you automatically have 14 days cooling-off period provided in law, so you don’t need to rely on any dealer paperwork.

  4. Hi Stuart,

    Please advise. I signed a contract today i believe, at a vw dealership and paid a £99 deposit. But no longer wish to purchase the car. How do i cancel this purchase and what are my rights. I haven’t paid any money for the car yet.

    When signing contract the serviceman didn’t really go over any information with me!

  5. Hi Stuart, I placed a $2000 deposit for a new 2021 vehicle ordered from the manufacturer b/c wanted specific features added. This was all done at the dealership. My issue; the sales rep told me I should have the vehicle by 3 months max time (this is not in writing). However, I was blatantly clear that I did not a problem when I asked how long the wait would be. I was told the deposit is non refundable with special orders (that’s in writing). It has now been four months. I spoke with the sales rep, along with an email of my concerns just after the three month mark. He stated he promised to keep me informed and it “should be no more than another three weeks to a month”. How could I know if I will be waiting another three months or not? Is there a way I can fight to get my deposit back b/c I’m ready to move on to another vehicle? Thank you.

  6. Hi Stuart,

    So I went to my local Sytner BMW dealer and liked a car they didn’t have the car in stock so they said they’d have to order the car in for me. I paid £1000 deposit for the car at the showroom I didn’t sign any other forms or any paper work just paid the deposit and they said they’d look nation wide to see if the car was available in any of their dealerships if not they’d have to order one in for me. Weeks go by I have a lot of back and forth with BMW long story short I decide on a different car a different model however even that isn’t available anywhere in the UK and they say they have to place an order and have a brand new car made for me from the factory in Germany we than agree on spec and figure out a PCP thats suitable for over the phone the agent runs a credit check I pass the credit check and agree terms for the PCP. I have paid £1000 deposit when the car arrives I am supposed to pay a further £4000 and the rest go on PCP. The car hasn’t arrived yet its due to arrive late Jan or early Feb however there has been a change in my employment status I have since lost my job and I think I’ll struggle with the PCP payments and it will be unwise of my to commit to paying £380 per month on PCP so I want to cancel the order and get out of this deal is this at all possible? What can I do? What are my options from here on?

    Many Thanks,

  7. Hi stuart

    I brought a vehicle from a dealer who is also our neighbour at my businesses address . The car was imported from japan . No order from was signed and no paper work nothing was given to me at all , the car is ordered and arrived and waiting for dvla registration for over 3 months and is still with the dealer , the dealer charged me all the money upfront 7.5k . Its been over 3 months and he still hasnt give me the car i am getting very frustrated as i need the car but he keep using excuses .i have asked for the refund or courtesy car which he has refused and said to me do what ever you want i cant give you the car till dvla send me the logbook also after 4 months he has send me the receipt just now by keep asking him but the receipt has todays date . He hasnt give me any contract any forms nothing at all , last time when i spoke to him at the garage after that now he has also send me an email with the recipt that i am not allowed to enter his permisis due to my abusive and threatening behaviour which he is lieing about as i only asked him when will i get my car or refund . I am very fed up now where do i stand what can i do any advise would be appreciated?

  8. Hi Stuart, we paid a deposit, but have not yet signed the purchase agreement, for a new car. We are remote buyers, although we have to go in to the dealership to complete. The car is now ready for us, and we are ready to go in and complete the purchase, but the dealership has just said that the finance agreement has changed. They have increased our monthly payments. This is not what we had agreed.
    Can they do this? If we refuse, can we get our deposit back?
    Many thanks, Sinead.

  9. Hi Stuart
    I have seen you helping alot of people here. I have problem i dont know what to do. I bought car from parksidegarage from Bolton on phone and made all payment. They given me 12 months parts warranty and reocver package and also 14 days return. Driver from garage deliver the car to my house due convid 19.i drove the car but not happy with fuel consumption. I am not happy with the car so i want to return it back within 14 days.But now they are making excuses that we will charge 800 from payment, we cant take back. From last 4-5 days i am calling every day and emailing them but not cooperating.As when they selling on phone told can return anytime in 14 days if dont like it. But now they are refusing it.
    Please could you guide me what should i do in such a situation and whom should i contact.

    • Hi Ali. If you bought the car over the phone, you have the right to cancel within 14 days after delivery for any reason. Your only obligation is to ensure that the car is in the same condition as when you bought it.

  10. Hi there. I’ve reserved a car online with a refundable £100 and now the dealer is asking me to sign an order form to prevent car from going back on sale. I’m reluctant to sign anything until I’ve had a test drive but with Covid this might be some weeks away. Should I walk away or expect the dealer to keep the car reserved for me until restrictions on viewing are removed?

    • Hi Aoife. Even during these extraordinary times, it’s important to stick by your principles when buying a car. If you placed that importance on a test drive before the dealership was closed, that shouldn’t change now.

      Obviously I don’t know all the details of your situation, but generally speaking, it’s going to be very much a buyer’s market once dealers re-open. You may well find that there are all sorts of deals on offer that may be better than this one. The dealer knows this and is probably worried about losing a sale, hence the sudden pressure to get you to sign an order form.

      Personally, in this sort of situation, I’d take my money back and take my chances on finding another car once dealerships re-open.

  11. Hi Stuart,
    I saw a car on-line, and phoned the dealer. I ended up agreeing verbally on the phone to purchase the car, and use my own in part exchange.
    The dealer wanted £1000 deposit ‘to keep the car ‘, which I gave over the phone using my card.
    Afterwards the dealer mailed me a contract as an attachment, on which it stated the deposit was non refundable.
    The remaining are to be paid on delivery.
    5 days later (3 days prior to delivery) I’ve changed my mind.
    I have not signed the contract, and I have not seen anyone from the dealership, or been at their premises. Everything has been on the phone.
    The dealer is due to drive the car up to me in 3 days (length of the land), but I want to cancel.
    So following 2 questions
    1. Can I cancel the contract without issues,
    2. Can I get my deposit back?

  12. I know this is an old thread but hoping up can help.
    I currently have a Ford Fiesta from the dealership and have recently agreed after 2 years to upgrade to a titanium. I have been into the dealership to sign the contract although have not yet paid the £200 deposit. The car is being transferred from another dealership but in the meantime I have been offered a job in London so have no use for the car. Am I legally bound to take it or can I cancel before I pick up the car?

  13. Hi stuart my son signed for a carona distance sale through click and collect it was brought up from the dealership he done the deal with to a dealership near us I paid the deposit aswell we went over to the dealer ship to view and test drive the car my son had a very restricted rear window and could notsee the window properly to se what was behind him the rear back window was very restricted and he did not feel good in the car while driving went back to the dealer ship and he was a bit shaken with the ordeal so did he do the right thing in refusing the car he said he felt clastrafobic

  14. Hello, we have recently agreed to purchase a Peugeot from Robins and Day. We have paid £100 deposit and sign one bit of paper but not the main PCP contract, are we able to cancel the car??

  15. I contacted a dealer about a second hand car and arranged a test drive for my wife and me. We liked the vehicle and more or less thought it would be perfect for our needs. We were asked if we would trade-in a vehicle and we said we would and provided the plate number and details.
    A short while later the dealer returned with the trade in offer which was great and we were asked to leave a £1000 deposit to hold the vehicle which we did.
    I signed the vehicle order form and agreed with the dealer to send photos of the trade-in vehicle which they would collect when dropping the new vehicle off.
    The dealer contacted me the day after I sent the photos through to say that he had made a mistake with the trade-in and had put a slightly different registration down – mistaking a V for a P.
    Subsequently the trade-in offer was reduced by a considerable amount.
    Am I still legally bound to purchase the vehicle? Are they bound by the agreement?

  16. Hi

    I have just signed a PCP contract and paid £1k deposit for a cx5, however since doing this yesterday I have decided it would be better to try and switch to the higher spec model of the same car with the same dealer. Delivery is expected within a week.

    Would it normally be possible to request to switch to a more expensive model of the same car with the same dealer before delivery?

    • It’s possible, but depends on what stock they have available in a similar timeframe that they’d be keen to sell you. If you want to change your contract after you’ve signed it, you won’t necessarily get the same sort of deal.

  17. What are my rights when getting a refund on a used car that a part exchanged my car for please? The dealer eventually refunded me the £3650 that I paid (I’m currently waiting for it to appear in my account!) But he refused to give me anything for the car I gave him in exchange! He told me he’d already scrapped it….3 days later it’s now on autotrader and hes asking for £895 for it! I also found out through DVLA the car I bought from him was never changed to my name! Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Jen. It will depend on what your contract said. If your part-exchange value was £0 then he doesn’t owe you anything. If there was a value in the contract for your car, then he owes you that much money.

  18. I have signed a contract sale and finance at Toyota Salford Quays.
    I have paid £200 deposit and after a week I was supposed to pick up the car.
    A day before I ask to cancel it because I found a better car to use, it is for work then I could buy something much better. Manager did not agree, when I been in the shop I have asked again to cancel and they didn’t agree again.
    I paid rest of deposit and collected the car, after it I sent an email to Toyota head office and the general manager called to meet him.
    Car was with different colour in the door passenger, one owner car, full service and it was damaged and fixed in sometime previously.
    I went into a garage and they could check it was recupered. People can see it is different colour that I was confused but unsure when checked the car.

    General manager knew my situation that I was looking to use it to work and needed something better, anyway charge me £1200 fee to cancel my purchase.
    Is it correctly or should I look for a solicitor?

    • Hi Kal. You don’t have any real rights here, as far as I can see. You’ve agreed to buy a car and then the next day decided you’ve found a better one elsewhere so you want your deposit back. If I was the dealer, I wouldn’t give it back either.

  19. Hi Stuart

    Great website and comment thread. I’m hoping for some advice / my son (22 yrs) has bought a car on finance from Car Shop. He collected it yesterday and has changed his mind. Firstly I believe they got the car transferred from another dealer, but I think he signed the paperwork on Thursday and picked the car up on Friday around 5pm. He’s paid a deposit which I don’t care about him losing, there is a 7 day refund period which he has told them he wants to return the car and they are refusing this. I’m going to go to the dealer tomorrow and wanted to see what options I have for this situation. I honestly can’t believe he qualifies for finance, let alone for a £500 a month payment, he’s only been in his job for a week! I would like to return the car to them, leave it there with the keys and cancel his finance agreement. The car is £17k and then with finance £26k purchase. Morally it feels like he had been scammed but I appreciate this isn’t an argument. Any advice how to fix this problem so that he can return the car and not have the finance debt?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Paula. Cancelling your finance agreement within 14 days is your legal right, but that doesn’t cancel the purchase of the vehicle – it just means you have to find another way to pay for it.

  20. Hi Stuart,
    I have bought a car today from a dealer who said they had run necessary checks. (I have paid £860 deposit) I have looked it up on line and I have found there is outstanding finance against the car. I am due to collect the car and pay a further £10000 tomorrow. What should I do?

  21. Hey, I signed for a car 2 weeks this weekend, we are trying to save money and have realised the car we now don’t want, it’s new and we haven’t received it and won’t until at least when March 1st. We paid a deposit which I won’t get back, just want to check whether I am now committed to buy the car. It is a 4 year PCP deal we have signed for. Thanks

  22. Hi Stuart,

    We visited our local BMW Dealer to look for a car, we knew what specifications we wanted and advised the salesperson. He showed us the one which matched perfectly (£19,000) we test drove it and loved it, we didn’t leave a deposit and wanted to sleep over it. The next morning, we enquired about the same car to purchase unfortunately it was sold. A few weeks later we visited the same showroom. We explained that we missed a car a few weeks back and wanted to see if they have a similar car with the same specifications, we also gave them the registration number of the car that we missed too. After some searching, they said they had one but had to be ordered from their group stock. He said, “it’s exactly the same specification as the one you missed”. They originally asked for £1000 deposit which was the norm, he came back a few minutes later saying because we need to order it direct, they need a further £3000, so in total we paid £4000 deposit. It felt odd, but we trusted the salesperson and paid.
    We waited about 2 weeks, the car arrived in the excitement we had looked around the car only the outside and went straight in to get sign the paper work. We paid the rest in full and signed everything. Once all done, the salesperson took us to the car as a handover. Too my astonishment the dash colour and features were totally different and there was an extra 800 miles on it too. I felt embarrassed that I didn’t test drive or even look inside. I felt sick and didn’t want this car, however the dealer insisted that you have bought it and it’s registered in your name. He said keep this car, we will look for an alternative for you. It’s now been 2 months, and I’m still waiting. I’ve asked for my money back, but they insist they have done nothing wrong, we were advised about the dash colour and mileage too at the time of sale. So, it’s my word against theirs. All I want is my money back, I’ve given them ample opportunity to source another car to no avail. I still have the car, I’m also afraid they will say something as I’ve put on 200 miles on it.
    I’m not sure of my next move, please help !!

  23. Hey

    I have recently purschsed as car from a dealer, in with the deal I part exchanged a car and paid the rest via bank transfer.

    On return home I got a message saying that he had taken the part exchange Vehicle out and was apparently a fault with driving car, and wants more money from myself so he can have it looked it at.

    Do I have to pay him??

    • Nope. If there was a legitimate problem with the vehicle and you lied about it during the part-exchange process, he can take you to court and make a claim for any costs or losses occurred. But he has to prove that.

  24. Hi Stuart I recently bought a car 1 week ago, applied for pcp online but all docs signed in dealership.
    Paid 1k deposit. Usual turn of events iv found same car cheaper with better mileage and spec, what would happen if I cancelled the pcp as within 14 days? What would happen? What would I lose?

    As it so happens the car appears to have a slight fault where I can’t change the passanger wing mirror but drivers one I can, so could I technically say it’s faulty and cancel everything? Any penalties?

    Also wondered if I cancel the pcp could they finance the new car providing new garage agreed or would I have to go through whole process of cancelling agreement and then applying for pcp again in which then the interest rate etc may change or the finance could get refused ?

  25. Hi Stuart,
    I have seen a car online, contacted the dealer by phone and agreed to purchase providing I’m happy after seeing and driving it next week. I paid a deposit by credit card. They have emailed me my receipt and order form. They have now asked me to sign the order form which states that I agree to purchase the car. Should I do so? Also we agreed a warranty the length of which is hand written next to the typed extended warranty. Is this OK? Any advice would be much appreciated, Thank you

    • Hi Alan. It doesn’t matter if the details of the contract are hand-written or typed, as long as they are clearly stated and the same contract is signed by both parties.

      Yes, it’s normal for the dealer to email you a contract to sign. Make sure they send the terms and conditions as well, which are normally on the back of the contract. You should read these documents thoroughly to make sure you understand everything contained therein, and only sign if you’re happy.

  26. Hi – I visited a dealer to discuss options around a particular car. Ended up talking about a different model. Agreed a spec and left with the dealer agreeing to look at options. He then sent through options by email over a few days with some back and forth. I gave approval of a spec via email and the business manager phoned me to take the deposit. This was for a factory built car, not one in stock. I’ve since found that the same dealer group are offering much better deals so i’m paying several thousand more than I could.

    Does this constitute distance selling as only an initial discussion was on premises and I was then sent various options by email? If so, is there a time limit on cancelling? Deposit was probably made around 10th October so several weeks now

  27. Hi,

    I have an interesting one which i feel is an abuse by the consumer. We sell premium cars via the online network so squarely distance selling. I totally understand that consumers were given additional rights to protect them against miss-selling but wondered where the consumer rights end and the consumer abuse begins.

    my particular example related to a consumer refusing to accept the vehicle due to it being driven delivery as per his order form. note this was ordered from a broker, financed via a funder and delivered after the cooling off period expired for the finance.

    So the dealer goes onto deliver the vehicle as instructed by the funder/broker and comes back with a used car because the customer refused to receive it because of the driven delivery. considering this was made clear on the order form it seems an abuse rather than a right?

    • Hi Alex. I think you’d need some professional legal guidance here – I assume that the law is still on the customer’s side (they could give any reason for rejecting the car under a distance sale, but they seem to have chosen a poor one), but I’d suggest talking to a specialist automotive law firm like Lawgistics.

      And yes, customers can be unreasonable jerks a lot of the time. Unfortunately that doesn’t change anything, just makes it even more annoying when you have to deal with them…

  28. Hi, I bought a Motorhome from a dealership a long way from where we live. I put a 2,000 deposit down but after the cooling off percoid I changed my mind. They sent me a contract on line didn’t sign anything (although I may digitally signed ?)

    Now they will not deposit back. Im confused by the distance buying laws? I need the money back but they are not replying to emails.

    • Hi Jane. by the sound of it, you should be entitled to your money back if you haven’t actually taken delivery of the vehicle. However, that doesn’t guarantee that the dealer will play nicely and do the right thing.

      if they refuse to engage with you, you’ll need to speak to a lawyer.

    • Jane, if you paid a deposit having visited their premises and inspecting the goods then you still have a contract. There is the money, the goods and the offer made which is the consideration. If you haven’t been to their premises and you paid a deposit to hold the vehicle then you are entitled to a full refund.

  29. Hi Stuart

    Quick question. We recently bought a new campervan at the Newbury Motorhome show. We gave a 10% deposit (£4000) with delivery in two weeks time. We are now unsure that we want to proceed. So we are wondering whether this purchase is covered by the 14 day cooling off period, as it was a purchase made at a Motorhome Show and not on the actual premises of the dealer. We would be grateful for your expert opinion on this situation. Thanks.

    • Hi Denise. It would probably depend on whether the dealer can argue that their stand at the show counts as their premises. You’d need to speak to a lawyer, or ask for advice on the excellent legal forum legalbeagles.info, but my guess is that a clearly-branded stand at the show may well count as dealer premises. Luckily, I’m not a lawyer!

  30. We bought a brand new car from a dealer that was 100mi away. Unfortunately, it presented DPF issues within 28 days after pick up. We allowed a service (using the local manufaturer’s service garage), but then it broke down again (sImilar DPF issue) less than a month after repair.

    In August 2017, we rejected it and went for an option for a like for like replacement. But then, we were told that our choice of colour was phased out and have to choose a different one. When asked for an assurance that we wouldn’t encounter anymore DPF issues, the dealer cannot do so and so we went for a petrol (that has the same extra features as the car we rejected). Because we have extra features, it would need to go through production, and that all production will be delivered end December 2017 or Jan 2018 (order form was completed and electronically sent on Oct 2017j. For the meantime, the in-house finance group to which we have an agreement with, advised us to continue using the rejected car up to the point of the swap over. Unfortunately, after this agreement, we had 2 more DPF issues. The second to the last was repaired in the usual way, under warranty. The fourth issue all of a sudden became chargeable repair saying it was “driver’s fault,” alleging we drove it whilst the amber warning light was on. We contested this and we have a proof that it was driven to regenerate and clear the system, after which we were driving it without any warning light on. But on 6th Dec, amber light came up and then turned to red/limp mode so it was sent back to the service garage. By this time we were again on a service replacement car (provided by the local garage).

    So, we went to the process of clearing things out with – the in-house finance service (our co-owner), the dealer, and the local service garage. But all discussions became futile as they all stuck with the allegation without presenting any proof. Anyway, to make the whole nightmare shorter (if you’d see the whole case you’d agree it is a nightmare)- we ended up filing a case with the FInancial Ombudsman Services, initially to get rid of the service charge and just to continue with the original agreement of picking up the replacement car (which as of 21 Dec was available for pick up).

    The case dragged and became complicated, as the service replacement car which we were originally told to use was suddenly taken off our driveway with our personal stuff inside (including 2 sets of house keys, garage door remote,etc), without any advice or knock on the door. This happened despite the initial release of the FOS findings that we shouldn’t be charged of any services as there is no concrete proof of their allegations and that we have proof that we acted accordingly.

    Imagine the stress we and the whole neighbourhood felt upon the discovery of the car’s absence from our driveway. This eventually resulted to a filing of a case with the Police that the car was “stolen.” It took hours after our call to the manufacturer’s team that they admitted that they took it away as per advise of the dealer.

    As a one car family household we were forced to hire a car. Anyway, when we called the dealer they were pinning us down to shoulder the service charges so they could reinstate a car to us (totally ignoring the FOS’ initial findings).

    06 April, when the in-house finance service found out that we are seeking legal services, they expressed that they are agreeable to shoulder the service of the rejected car and the car hire charges. By this time, we have already clearly stated to the FOS that we seek a different settlement – full rejection of the car, dissolution of the agreement, car hire charges, refund of the monthly instalment at some point and compensation given that all trust and confidence with all the parties involved has completely broken down.

    Given all the extra-ordinary circumstances, FOS finds our points reasonable.

    Anyway, 17 May (the day the Ombudsman is scheduled to take the case to its final stage), the in-house FS agreed with the conditions set by the FOS investigator.

    As we have totally rejected the car and the FOS condition set is that we will be free of the agreement, are we right to say we are now free to look elsewhere for a different car. Also, we have not given any deposit.
    Additional info: As the said dealer (and manufacturer) is under the Motor Ombudsman, we did an initial consultation with MOS and were told that we do have a case (in fact we were already given a case number).

    • Hi Stuart, I am aware that you are on a holiday, but I hope you won’t mind answering some more questions that I have:

      1. As the vehicle order form/build specifications for the replacement car was just emailed to us including the finance proposal form, and we printed it off, signed and emailed back (again, no deposits paid), would the process count as a distance selling?

      2. The replacement car has been delivered to the dealer but we’ve not received nor seen it, is this a simple case of just moving on and finding a different car now?

      3. Also, as both the rejected and the replacement cars are with the dealer, to which we are still religiously still paying the monthly instalments (PCP) for, am I right to believe that aside from the criminal act of trespassing and taking personal belongings, they have committed a breach of contract, as it states :
      “Where the goods are unpaid and held under reservation of title you agree the company may enter upon your land or premises at anytime with or without notice for the purpose of retrieving the Goods.”

      – And they unconscientiously left us stranded.

      3. If by chance we find a car of different make but of the same franchisee would there be any issue?

      Help please Stuart, honestly, from the time we picked up the car until 06 December, the rejected car was in the garage for a total of 150days. And from 06Dec we have not heard from the dealer not until they have learnt that the FOS has given their recommendation for resolution (and the in-house FS is complying).

    • Hi Marie. Given how long this has been going on, and the fact that you have been dealing with the dealer, the finance company, the Financial Ombudsman and the Motor Ombudsman, I think you need to speak to a lawyer and make sure your interests are being properly represented. They’ll be able to go through all the paperwork and help you work out exactly where you stand.

  31. Hi I bought a vehicle over finance and dealer gave me the car but haven’t signed finance agreement. All he gave his garage receipt. What’s that mean and I can return the vehicle at any time then as I haven’t signed finance papers and didn’t put any deposit

    • Hi Akki. You’ll need to find out who the finance agreement is with and contact them directly to find out what’s going on.

      It doesn’t mean you can simply give the car back – a sales contract is separate to a finance agreement, so even if your finance contract is voided the dealer can simply invoice you for the full price of the car.

  32. Hi Stuart,

    I paid a deposit and signed an agreement for a used car at a dealership yesterday,

    The salesman told me it has a full service history but after coming home and reading the contract which I had signed it doesn’t say anything about a full service history.

    The salesman said the car doesn’t have the service record as previous owner hasn’t sent it yet but you can check it with BMW after you’ve bought the car. I now feel as though I have been lied to and the car probably doesn’t have a full service history.

    Am I able to cancel my contact and claim back my deposit?



    • Hi Saj. Your sales contract won’t mention the service history, but that’s perfectly normal.

      If you have an advertisement that mentions a full service history then you have the right to expect proof of that. You can go to a BMW dealer and get a print-out confirming any services that have taken place at an official BMW service centre, but they won’t show any services done outside the BMW network.

  33. I was excited to test drive a used car I have been wanting for a while. When I got in I noticed a light on the dash, I asked the sales lady & she stated it needed washer fluid. I was happy with everything else. I left a deposit and signed a few papers as I plan to return tomorrow to sign the financing and contract, ect and take home the vehicle. However I looked up the owners manual online and noticed the light I saw was actually a coolant light. I called today to state my concerns. She Stated she would have service look at it and provide me with a full service report tomorrow. My question is; if I go tomorrow and the light is still on, can I request my deposit back and decide to not proceed with the contract?

    • Hi Ashley. Presumably they will add some coolant to fill the tank up and get rid of the warning light. If that fixes the problem, then great.

      I would suggest you get confirmation in writing from the dealer that they have filled up the coolant system, so that if it empties itself again you will have proof that there was a problem before you took delivery of the car.

    • You don’t have any proof. You can say that the dealership staff were pressuring you; they will say that they weren’t.

      In almost all of these situations, the reality is somewhere in the middle. Sales staff will always try to create a sense of urgency to encourage customers to buy now, but the customer is still responsible for signing a contract and handing over the money.

  34. Hi I paid in full for new Vauxhall Crossland X se signed deal in shop few days ago the car will be ready Friday is it too late to cancel I have to hand my trade in when I go to collect car! I felt pressured as they said was last one they had!

    • Hi Matt. You probably have no legal right to cancel the deal, and there is no way that the dealer is going to happily refund your money if you’ve already paid in full. Unfortunately you’ve succumbed to a bit of pressure selling in a showroom and unless you can show proof that you have been mis-sold, you will soon be the proud new owner of a Vauxhall Crossland X.

  35. Hi Stuart,

    I went to a dealership and after a test drive we talked through numbers on the 17th March. I signed a few forms and paid a £200 deposit at the dealership but did not sign the vehicle order form as the salesman made a mistake and later emailed it to us that night (17th).

    After some confusion (I tried to remember the various forms that I signed but was positive the order form was not one of them) I asked the salesman if I needed to sign this order form and email back to him, to which he eventually replied ‘yes’ (after me chasing him on the phone) on 20th March. I then signed, scanned and emailed the order form back to him on 20th March. I dated the order form as 17 March and the salesman dated it as 20 March.

    The car is a limted edition one that apparently the dealer had in stock, they gave me a delivery date of 31st March but likely sooner, this is on the order form.

    The dealer has not yet been forthcoming about a registration plate (so I can insure it in advance) and a definite delivery date, despite it being in stock.

    My questions are:

    – Does my situation count as distance selling? The vehicle order form was scanned and emailed back to the dealership although I did pay the deposit in person at the dealer and signed some other paperwork at the dealer.

    – If I do not have a guaranteed delivery date on or before 31st March, am I entitled to cancel my order with a full refund of deposit?

    The deposit is not massive and I’m not that worried about losing it for all the hassle of getting it back. I’m more concerned with the lack of communication from the dealer and what I can do to get out of the deal if needs be, to allow me to source from another dealer. The finance agreement quotation was also created on 17th March and that has a no questions asked cancellation period within 14 days so I’m ok there.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Hi Connor.
      1) No, it’s not a distance sale. You paid a deposit at the dealership – the paperwork is essentially formalising the details of the sale that was agreed at the dealership.
      2) No. The T&Cs of the contract you have now signed will have a clause relating to delivery schedules; usually, the dealer has 28 days leeway from the original delivery date.
      3) The finance agreement cooling-off period doesn’t actually start until the finance contract is activated, which is basically when the finance company pays the dealership and is usually the day of delivery. So your 14 days haven’t even started yet.

  36. Hi Stuart, thanks for all your valuable input above, great resource

    I made an order for a new van through an online broker, paid £2000 deposit (higher to cover custom options, I was told) and was warned to expect 12-16 weeks lead time

    A delivery update after 14 weeks suggested delivery would be between 17-19 weeks from order date, too late for my needs and so I cancelled the order to pursue a different solution

    The broker confirmed the dealer intended to keep the full deposit, and declined my offer to take delivery and sell privately should they wave the 12 month embargo on resales (I was aware of the embargo before I committed)

    I feel very let down by the misleading delivery times and stung by a full deposit retention

    Should I suck this up and put it down to experience? There’s clearly a backlog of orders for this vehicle and I doubt they were truly out of pocket, given the waiting list of purchasers

    Thoughts appreciated!

    • Hi Adam. You are not covered by the Consumer Credit if the van is a business-use vehicle (which most vans obviously are). If it is a private purchase and the vehicle is not going to be used for any business purposes at all, you would be entitled to your deposit back.

      If it is a business use vehicle, I’d suggest trying legalbeagles.info or speaking to a lawyer to discuss your options to try and recover some or all of the deposit.

    • Thanks Stuart, I’ve signed up to legal beagles.info. The order was made in my own name, as was the ‘acceptance of fleet discount’ contract, no mention of a company; does this influence how I proceed. Thanks again

    • If they can show that you are using the vehicle for any kind of business purposes, they are not obliged to adhere to the Consumer Rights Act or Consumer Credit Act.

      If the vehicle is purely 100% for personal use only, you are considered a consumer under the Act. But that’s rarely the case with vans and the dealer (and/or their lawyers) will investigate it thoroughly.

  37. Hi Stuart, interesting article and I wish I’d seen this first before signing a vehicle order.

    I viewed (not with a fine toothcomb) and test drove a car at a large UK dealership, and decided to buy with a view to picking it up next Friday. Unfortunately, having left the dealership, I can’t help feeling I’ve been fleeced.

    The car salesman was pleasant enough and when it came to process of buying, several other items came into play.

    1) Vehicle admin fee about £99 (Includes among other things HPI check to make sure vehicle doesn’t have a financial claim on it or any nasty history)
    2) Servicle bundle (two services and two MOTs) £369
    3) Two years extended waranty to include two years top AA breakdown cover about £495
    4) £20 fuel

    These are what I agreed to because on the face of it they seemed fair, except the vehicle admin fee which left me feeling sour because at the end of the car surely a dealership has to be sure that the vehicle doesn’t already have a compromised history.

    Other items I rejected off the bat: ie Some special protection for paintwork and interior £200. Even though they said they would give it a valet anyway. And asset protection insurance of over £300

    The park assist function wasn’t working during test drive and they said they would look at this before delivery.

    I signed the order and paid £200 deposit.

    Now, as your article says, with 6 days to think before delivery, I’m replaying the whole experience and although I want to buy the car, I’m having second thoughts about the service bundle and extended warranty. (I’m resigned to the fact that I have to pay the vehicle admin fee.)

    Can I change my mind on these additional items before delivery and have them deducted(they are printed on the order)?
    Also, if they fail to resolve the park assist function, can I cancel the order on delivery with refund?
    Also, when I pick up the car, if I was to spot something else such as electric windows not working, or head rest missing, could I insist on that being resolved?

    Buying a car should be a pleasant experience. I just feel I’ve been taken to the cleaners.

    Many thanks

    • Hi Andrew. Additional admin fees particularly annoy me (might be time to write a ranty post about it!), but as long as they are declared then they are legal.

      You can probably cancel the service bundle and extended warranty – they’ll try and talk you out of it, because they make commission on both of those things, but technically there’s no reason they can’t cancel them (they may make some excuse about the paperwork already being submitted for the warranty, which means you may have to cancel it directly with the warranty provider within your 14-day cooling-off period).

      If the park assist function hasn’t been fixed, you are definitely within your rights to insist that they fix it. Rejecting the car over it is likely to be more difficult, unless you had them write it on the order form? Same applies to any other faults you find on delivery.

  38. Hi Stuart, I placed a £500 deposit with an Audi dealer over the phone for a car they didn’t have on their premises. They said that I would have to make a deposit to reserve the car and get it transferred to their site. The price exceeded my budget but I was persuaded to reserve the car over the phone call. They did say that the deposit was refundable.
    Since sleeping on it I realise I may have made a mistake I’m due to return to the dealer to signed the contract (I have signed a vehicle order form by email and sent it back).
    I assume after reading your comments that I am 100% entitled to recovery of the full £500 if I change my mind prior to going to the dealers which I have never been to before? Or could they deduct transport costs from the refund?

    • Hi Neil. You are entitled to your money back, although they will probably try to claim some costs for transporting it. It all depends on how hard you want to fight them – you are entitled to all of your £500 back, but they have your money and chasing them for costs may end up costing you more than the amount in question.

  39. Hi Stuart, I received a brand new car on contract hire, 12 days after picking up the car the timing chain broke resulting in the car needing a new engine. I rejected the car within 30 days as was told this was my right. It’s now over 3 months Since this happened and I’m still no further forward.
    What are my rights on this? I would be very grateful if you could help

    • Hi Mary. You will have to keep hassling the leasing company, who are presumably negotiating with the supplying dealer and more interested in covering their own losses than looking after you. If they are not being responsive, you will have to get a lawyer to assist you.

  40. Hi Stuart,

    I have question. We found a car online and secured the car with £250 deposit but went to collect in person 2 weeks ago (Sunday) – PAID balance deposit etc. Now it seems the finance terms (provided by broker) is different to what we have been told (5 years instead of 4 and much higher interest repayment). We are looking to cancel /return the car.

    I realise it doesn’t fall under distance selling as the article describes since we collected in person. However I wonder if it is still a legally binding contract as the “order form” was not signed at all???

    I am within my rights to cancel the contract (14 day cooling period ends tomorrow). I still have not physically received a copy of the signed finance agreement? I only have a sample unsigned copy.

    What can I do in this instance?


    • Hi Sonia. You can cancel your finance contract, but that doesn’t cancel your car purchase, so you would need to find another way to pay for the car. Whether you are legally bound to purchase the car will depend on what documentation you and the dealer have regarding your intention to purchase the vehicle.

  41. Hi Stuart
    I have put a £500 deposit on a car, the dealer has since informed me the flywheel and clutch are u/s. They are repairing it, am I able to cancel the order and get my deposit back. The car has only done 47k and is on 2011 plate. I placed the order on a serviceable motor. We visited the showroom, but paid the deposit over the phone later. Thanks Bob

    • Hi Bob. Assuming the flywheel and clutch are replaced satisfactorily, there is no reason the car won’t be perfectly serviceable and there is no reason to cancel the order. Presumably, you didn’t test drive the vehicle or you would have been aware of this then.

      The dealer is not obliged to declare any repairs (unless you specifically ask, in which case they are obviously not allowed to lie to you). Had the dealer replaced the flywheel and clutch before you first walked in, you would be none the wiser.

      You can certainly cancel your order and ask the dealer to refund your deposit, but if they refuse to do so then you don’t have strong grounds for demanding it back.

  42. This is the conversation I had on Direct message (twitter) with a Peugeot UK on Friday –
    Hi Elaine, I’ve spoken to Peugeot distribution about this. There’s been such a high demand across Europe for the Peugeot Traveller and lower than planned production levels. I’m sorry there’s been a delay with your order. I’d like to offer a gesture of goodwill when you’ve taken delivery. Please just get in touch at this time and I’ll arrange this. ^Gary

    I then said – “to be clear there is no build date for my car that was ordered on 30th Aug 2017?”

    He replied – Hi Elaine, there’s no confirmed build date. The dealer will be in touch as soon as they have some better news. ^Gary

  43. Absolutely. Ordered Peugeot Traveller on 30th Aug 17. Updated on Friday by dealer – no build date for my wee boys Motability car. Confirmed by @PeugeotUK that they have no idea when the car will be built. Devastated. Seems wrong – take deposit with no build plans? Still waiting…..

    • Hi Elaine. It’s not unusual for a dealer to take an order without knowing the production date, however it is fairly unusual that the dealer and manufacturer still don’t have a confirmed build date more than two months later.

      Once the dealer is notified a build date, it’s usually four or more weeks in advance, and then it’s usually at least another four weeks from build date to delivery. So when they finally do get a date confirmed, it’s likely to be at least eight weeks until you have the car.

  44. Hi Stuart, I have just purchased a new Land Rover HSE Luxury from a 4×4 specialist.I placed the deposit over the phone but went to collect the vehicle from Chelmsford. I have had the car a couple of days and noticed some of the standard Land Rover spec is not fitted to the vehicle (such as heated windscreen & Wheel and wifi connectivity) I purposely chose this model because of the level of included extras. Please could you let me know am I within my right to have them collect the vehicle? I have put a sizable 25% deposit and 75% on finance (with their finance company), what are your suggestions?

    • Hi Simon. If the car is not as advertised, then you have the right to reject it.

      If you have bought it as a used car, however, it will come down to what equipment the car was advertised as having, rather than what may or may not have been standard equipment on a new model. If the car was not advertised as having a heated windscreen or wifi, you can’t really complain that it doesn’t have those features. It’s up to you as the buyer to make sure that the car has all the features you are looking for.

  45. Hi Stuart,

    What if they refuse to refund, should I tell them I am entitled to get deposit back due to Consumer contract regulation ?Any suggestion when negotiate with them?


  46. I put down deposit for an approved car over telephone and changed my mind within 5 hours so I emailed them to cancel this, but still they took the deposit and sent the order form for me to sign. I did not sign the order form, can I get the deposit back ? BTW I only see the car from online/

  47. Hi Stuart,

    I have bought an Audi TT Used from a main dealership using PCP, however now Im thinking financially I might not be able to cope with paying for it. I paid £2000 deposit and I was wondering if I could pull out of the deal and get the deposit back. 2 things

    1) The cable is not working for the iPhone link in the glove compartment and there are some issues with the spoiler on the back

    2) I showed A young lady in another Audi dealer what paperwork I received and she told me that because I hadn’t been made aware of the alloy protection I had been sold, nor did I have the original order form, nor did I have anything saying that I was aware of the finance agreement, nor a demands and needs document I might possibly have a case??

    Please let me know if this could enable me to cancel??



    • Hi Trevor. You would have to prove that you weren’t made aware of the alloy protection. The dealer should have a copy of the demands and needs statement, and it is a standard part of the process so I would be surprised if they didn’t present this during the sales process.

      Based on what you have said, I don’t think you have a case. But you would need to discuss it with a solicitor and present all of your documentation for them to guide you.

  48. I agreed to buy a Motor home at the premises of a dealer. The salesman told me all about the vehicle but did not tell me that three years previously it had failed its MOT due to serious corrosion which had been repaired so it passed subsequent MOTs.. if I had known or been told that information I would not have agreed to the purchase. I have been told they will not refund my £500 deposit as I withdrew from the sale.
    However their failure to bring to my attention something so major should negate the contract and result in them refunding my deposit. If I had known of the repair I could have had a further examination by an expert before agreeing the sale. The salesman told me he could not be aware of every repair a vehicle had had but my view is that as a Motor home retailer and repairer they should have made themselves aware of this previous repair and brought it to the attention of any prospective purchaser
    What do you think Please
    thank you

    • Hi Graeme. If the vehicle has passed an MOT, you won’t have a right to a refund. Cars fail MOT tests all the time, but as long as the vehicle is repaired then it’s all perfectly acceptable. The dealer is not obliged to tell you that it failed an MOT test three years ago, regardless of the reason. A dealer is obliged to tell you if a vehicle is a Category C or D (previously written off but repaired).

  49. Hi, I have been reading this thread with some interest and have to ask for your advice:

    Last week, I was having mechanical problems with my car, I had broken down, and as my car was nearly 10 years old, I decided to look for another car, I went to Evans halshaw, and immediately seen a Hyundai ix35, I test drove the car and liked it.
    I was in desperate need of the car as I needed it in order to get to work, they asked about my old car and I told them what kind of condition it was in, I was then asked how I would pay for the Hyundai, I said I would like to lease the car, when they came back, they said as the car was 5 years old, I could buy it on finance.
    So I filled out a document and the dealership applied to Black Horse for the finance, I was approved very quickly, I was presented with the credit agreement and signed all parts, my husband left a £100 deposit to secure the car, and I was given a valuation of £1600 for my old car, I was to take delivery of the car the next day,

    When I went home my husband told me the finance was too expensive, and I should try for a bank loan, which I did, again I was excepted within minutes.
    So my plan was to cancel my agreement and then buy a car cash, so my husband called the salesman to inform him that I wouldn’t be picking the car up, as I no longer needed the finance, and I would be purchasing from another dealership.
    They then told me they had registered the car in my name, and they wanted over £500 to get out of the agreement.
    Now I have never picked up the car as I no longer want it, but the dealership have been paid by Black Horse, and Black Horse want their money from me as per the agreement, what are my options?

    • Hi Suthatip. You can cancel the finance agreement with Black Horse, as all finance agreements have a 14-day cooling-off period. However, you are still legally committed to buying the car – presumably using the money from the bank loan. There’s no cooling-off period for the vehicle purchase and you have signed a legally-binding contract.

      If you try to get out of the vehicle purchase, the dealer will possibly try and chase you for the £500, or possibly not. If you go and buy a car elsewhere, they could possibly take you to court to try and enforce the contract or sue you for their losses (although that’s not very likely).

  50. Hi Stuart.
    irecently purchased a car @ a dealers and put down a 2500.00 deposit and took out finance on the vehicle.We went about 2 miles down the road when the car cut out. The car sales man turned up with another and proceeded to try to fix the problem .clearly not knowing what they were doing/ Aweek later we have been told we have to accept the car when it is fixed is this correct.?

    • Hi Karen. It depends on what the problem is. If it was a minor problem with a simple fix, the car would not be considered faulty and therefore you couldn’t reject it under the Consumer Rights Act. You are entitled to know what the problem is – if the dealer won’t tell you, then I would suggest you officially reject the car and make the dealership explain what the problem is.

  51. Hi Stuart, thanks for the reply!…Two final points:
    1) I also negotiated they pay the first year`s tax for the vehicle, on the vehicle order form under “Dealer Fitted Accessories” it states 12 months first year £0.00 – would I be right in thinking that is agreed as discussed, I cant find the discount or note anywhere else!?

    2) There have been significant delays on my type of vehicle order – my T&C`s state if they cant provide the vehicle within days of the estimated date then the contract is cancelled – this I assume means deposit back and look elsewhere if I’m not prepared to wait? (Part of me would love to start this process again knowing what I now know, so it could be a blessing, but I do also want the vehicle)

    Thanks again for your time.

  52. Hi Stuart – great site! I’ve recently ordered a new car, I’ve put down a £500 deposit and the deal includes the part ex of my car for a £1000. The dealer provided me with the best deal based on a PCP agreement. At the time of ordering I made it clear I wasn’t sure about signing up to PCP agreement or whether I wanted to source my own finance – the dealer said no problem, and that we wouldn’t sign the actual agreement until the car had arrived, or a few weeks prior. He added that if I won the lottery before the car comes I can pay the balance off in full, which is what I now want to do – should that be OK? I’m worried about entering into a PCP deal and being stung for interest if I paid it off early (I’ve now soured my own funds so want to pay for the car outright when it arrives) I’m also worried about them trying to negotiate the value of my P/X down, I got a decent deal on the new car but also got £300 more for mine based on the book value – I didn’t have my car with me at the time but it checked out OK on their systems, at the time of the deal I said it was a 10 year old car in fair condition – which it is. Would they be in a position to re-negotiate the deal on the signed order form if they didn’t feel my car is worth £1000? If so, would that mean I could re-negotiate, and what would be the consequence of me just walking away – me losing my £500 i assume?

    • Hi Andy. If there is nothing on the contract that says that the pricing is subject to taking out their finance, then there is nothing they can do. However, because the car wasn’t with you when you signed the contract, the dealer is likely to take any opportunity to knock down the PX value as much as they can.

    • Thanks for the quick reply Stuart, If they look to know down the PX value can I renegotiate the cost of the new car then?

    • Hi Stuart, I’ve read through some more of your articles – I’m less worried about the PX value, but more worried about the PCP. As I understand it, I’ve signed a vehicle order form and committed my deposit. Any PCP agreement I might enter into cant physically start until I take delivery of the vehicle (expected within the next month) I don’t believe I’ve entered into any finance agreement yet, nor have I received any documentation in the post. In short, I fully intend on paying cash for my car (£23k) – as long as I cancel the PCP within 14 days, ill have to pay the finance company £23k? is that correct?
      Thanks for your time in advance.

    • You will usually be called in by the dealer to sign the finance agreement a few days before your car is ready for delivery, so that all sounds normal at this time.

      If you cancel the PCP within the 14-day cooling-off period, you’ll get an invoice from the finance company for the total amount borrowed, usually payable within 28 days.

  53. Hi Stuart,

    A few days ago I took delivery of a new car bought entirely through phone and email communication with the dealer. Sounds like, if I change my mind, I can send the car back but the car has clocked up some mileage. So what is the dealer entitled to withhold before giving me the purchase price back. (btw the dealer did not give me any notice of cancellation terms)

    • Hi Mike. If the dealer hasn’t given you a copy of the cancellation terms (if they actually have any), then it’s up to them to collect the car. The only grey area in the law relates to condition, and that specifically relates to damage.

      The dealer will almost certainly try to stop you from returning the car, as it will mean a considerable loss for them, but the law is pretty clear.

  54. hi
    just paid cash for a used car to find out the when i put child seat in back there is no room for my sons feet he as to cross his legs
    the car come from main dealers
    and sales person told me there was enough room for a child but there is not
    can you advise as only had car for 3 days

    • Hi Steve. Unfortunately, you’re probably stuck with this car. If you didn’t check that the child and child seat fitted comfortably before you bought it, there’s not much you can do. A salesman’s verbal assurance means nothing.

  55. I brought a kia sportage and paid in full, signed all docs. Drove away in said car later that week, then was browsing there website and saw the same model/year for £500 more but this one was 15,000 miles less then mine i wanted to see if i could take it back and pay the extra £500 for the other car.

    I dont want a refund or to go any where else, just wanted to know if i could take it back for the other car and pay the difference.


    • Hi Nigel. In short, no you can’t. Well, you can, but it would cost you a lot more than the extra £500 (your car is now worth significantly less than what you paid for it) and it is almost certainly not worth the hassle and expense.

      Once you have bought a car and driven away, stop looking at used car websites. You will always find a better deal afterwards!

  56. I just bought a new 2017 the beginning of the week, can i exchanged it from a s model to sr model if i only had it for 4 days. I like the sr model better. Thanks

  57. hello

    ive recently had anoperation and been given morphine. ive been taking alot and today was the first day i 2went out the house cause i needed to go to a work meeting. anyway my friend picked me up an suggestedvwebgo get a free coffee at bmw. by talking to the dealer and ive ended up putting 1000 deposit down for a car when i couldnt think straight. ive now come off the medication and dontknow what to do as i dont want the car. i could do with the advice asap

    • Hi Joshua. You can ask the dealer to cancel the order and refund your deposit, but they are going to be highly dubious. Their argument (which is pretty reasonable) would be that if you were mentally capable of attending a work meeting then you were capable of understanding that you were buying a car.

      If you want to argue that you were mentally unfit to sign a contract and the dealer does not accept it, you will need a doctor’s written deposition and probably a lawyer.

  58. Hi Stuart,
    I have agreed to buy a car from a dealer and made a £500 deposit and signed order forms for a used car. My circumstances have changed sadly in 2 days, a death in the family and need any cash I have for funeral costs etc. Can I cancel the agreement to buy the car and is it likely I will get the deposit back?
    I also paid for the deposit by credit card. If I can’t get the deposit back from dealer can I get it back from credit card company?

    • You can ask, but the dealer is not obliged to agree. A vehicle purchase agreement does not usually have any clause to allow you to cancel for compassionate grounds (or any other grounds).

      For a car dealer, the “death in the family” excuse is up there with “the dog ate my homework” for teachers; it may be true for you, but unfortunately it gets used a lot by people trying to get out of their car purchases.

  59. Hello,
    Ive just brought a vehicle on ebay (privately), however i sent someone else to collect it and they signed the V5 on my behalf however when the vehicle arrived the engine is different to the V5. however the car was sold as seen… where do i stand?
    the guy who sold it told the person collecting it that the engine had been changed.


    • Replacing an engine is not illegal, so as long as the seller did not lie about it during the sales process then he/she has not done anything wrong – even if they did not disclose it. You would only have reason to object if the seller specifically lied about the engine replacement.
      You should contact the DVLA to update the engine details.

  60. This isn’t very promising :(. I ordered a car on Sun, and changed my mind. Requested for cancellation on Wed, but looks like I might lose my £500 deposit. The car wasn’t supposed to be with the dealer for 4 weeks, but now he’s saying it’s already on its way.

    We had just gone there to take a look at a used car, but ended up signing an order for a new car in impulse buy. The deal is too bad, on list price. We realised later that other dealers are offering over 3K discount & free servicing for 3 years.

    In a bad bad pickle! :(

    • Hi Alec. You can cancel the order, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get your deposit back. If you read the article above, it should tell you whether you are eligible for a refund based on the details of your situation.

  61. Hello Stuart!
    I’m Igor ,I was to carshop to buy a van .I was asked to pay £300 deposit for take it away from sale and wait till 11 o’clock in the morning (next day)to see if the finances gone through and if I will be accepted .In the evening I received a call from the company for I have worked, they told me that they reduced personal and I lost my job.So next day at 9:30am I was there and I explained my situation and I don’t need the van anymore. I request my deposit back ,but they refused me.
    I even didn’t knew if I was accepted.
    So ,tell me please am I entitled to get my money back?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Igor. No, you probably don’t have the right to your deposit back as you are the one cancelling the order. If the dealer cancelled the order because the finance was declined, they would be obliged to return your deposit.

  62. I ordered a car from a dealership over the phone; they took a deposit by card, sent me an order form by email and asked me to transfer the rest. They delivered the car and gave me a new contract to sign. On test driving the car I find I don’t like it. The dealership refuses to take it back – where do I stand?

    • Hi Angus. Assuming that the entire sale was conducted over the phone (ie – you didn’t go into the dealership to view the car and then went home to place the order), you have 14 days to change your mind and return the car for a full refund. If the dealer has not provided details about their returns policy or costs of collection, then it their obligation to pay for any associated costs.

  63. I understand your article that a deposit is binding if a vehicle is as described.
    I have put down a deposit on the premises with the agreement to rectify certain items within the price.
    This is not on the invoice but the dealer noted them down in writing and confirmed them back to me, and I have followed this up by email which he has not disputed.
    I have literally not signed on the dotted line, only the dealer has signed as the vendor.
    The invoice also says in small print subject to T&Cs overleaf, but it is a blank sheet on the back. I can see no T&Cs on their website either.
    Having not signed the invoice and with no T&Cs in black and white, is there an implied contract given the deposit is paid by credit card.
    He has indicated by phone the cost of the repairs may make it too expensive to do for him, and we will speak again soon.
    He has spoken about returning my money in full if I am not happy over the phone but I realise this is not worth the paper it isn’t written on.

    Can I pull out if none or, say only some, of the repairs are carried out and expect my full deposit back ?

    • If you have a written undertaking that the repairs would be done as part of the sale and the dealer is no longer prepared to uphold that, then you are entitled to withdraw and have your deposit back.

      The issue of the contract is separate, as you should simply be able to ask for the T&Cs to be provided. It would only be an excuse to withdraw if the dealer refused to provide them.

  64. Hi stuart,
    Me and my partner went to a car dealership to have a look at a car that we had seen online, we liked the car and took it on a test drive. as it was our first time going to a dealership its a lot of information to take in. when we finally got home and we spoke to the in laws the in laws had said we shouldn’t be paying for vehicle admin fees or even the £20 fuel with us paying out over £8000 for the car. we have been a bit put off about the car ever since. we haven’t signed any paperwork but we have put down a £200 deposit are we entitled to get that deposit back? the car is not going to ready to be collect for at least another 36 hours can you please advise.

    • Hi Samantha. If the dealer has made you aware of any admin fees and fuel costs before you agreed to the purchase, that’s perfectly acceptable. The only reason you would have to cancel and get your deposit back is if you were not told about those costs before you signed your contract, that’s a different story.

      I agree with your in-laws that it’s poor form for dealers to have added costs that are not clear, but unfortunately that’s not illegal.

  65. Hi
    i sold one caravan through ebay . customer deposit me £500 to hold caravan but after one week he said m coming for collection. but when he arrived he didn’t look at caravan and he said its not worth and its mileage not correct according to its outside condition.. so he request his deposit refund …
    please tell me … is he still eligible for refund ?
    now he is involving police to sort out his matter. because he transfer his money through bank…to bank……

    • Hi Hamid. Assuming you are a private individual rather than a dealer, I think you would have to look at eBay’s terms and conditions as it would not be covered by the standards applied to a dealer. Generally, he would not have any right to get his money back and the police are unlikely to be interested unless they think you are running some kind of scam.

  66. Hi Stuart,
    I ordered a new Focus RS in April, paying a £1000 deposit over the phone and all correspondence by email. I have not visited the Ford dealership. I am being told the car may be build in November and if so may be ready for March collection. I was always aware of the potential time delay. I have received no paperwork other than an emailed PDF of the spec of the car and the PCP figures -but it’s not an finance agreement or a formal contract. I haven’t signed anything. I received confirmation by email that the deposit had been received.

    If I decide not to proceed now am I entitled to get my deposit back? Other than placing the order I am not aware of any cost to the dealership up to this point, and indeed I dont think the car has even been built yet.


    James .

  67. Hi Stuart

    I recently bought the new Toyota Rav 4 Excel for £30,800 with all add ons at my local toyota garage. I Have signed the finance agreement on the premises as well. Today i have found the same car on offer at another Toyota Garage for £27,800. I was wandering can i call the garage to see if they will reduce the cost of my car to match the other garage or is this not possible now that i have signed the finance agreement. (both garages offer the 0% pcp).

  68. Put a deposit down yesterday under the condition that finance would go through. Got told today they cannot get credit under my name. Am I entitled to the deposit being refunded? I was never informed that deposits were non-refundable, or I would never have paid it.

    • Hi Lynn. Most franchise dealers are pretty quick to refund your money if your finance is rejected, as they know they are wasting their time trying to continue. If you can’t pay for the car, the contract can never be enforced.

  69. Hi Stuart
    Strange one
    Purchased a van from a private seller, left a deposit and both signed an agreement confirming the sale. Owner just text me saying had a better offer of £2500 more than my price and wanted to cancel. Now just texted to say he wants to keep the van to no doubt sell at a later date to the other party.
    What are my rights?
    I really wanted that van

    • Hi David. In a private sale, there’s basically nothing you can do. You can try taking the guy to court to enforce your contract, but that will take time and money, and there’s certainly no guarantee you will win. Basically, get your deposit back ASAP and find another van.

      For more information about vans and LCVs, visit our brand-new sister site The Van Expert.

  70. Hi Stuart, we have seen a Volkswagen van we want to purchase, going to view it on Sunday. The
    It’s a private sell but the owner has told us it’s locked in a finance agreement. Do we pay the car dealer some money and then the owner? I’ve never had this situation and I don’t want to hand over large amount of money when I’m unsure of my rights and how this should work, thanks

    • Hi Nicola. I would ask to see the finance settlement to check the numbers against what you are paying for the car. The owner should be able to get a hard copy of that from the finance company easily enough; if they can’t/won’t, walk away.

      Once you have seen the finance settlement letter from the finance company, I would then call them to ask about their T&Cs. They won’t be able to tell you about the specific contract due to privacy legislation, but they should be able to tell you what they expect if you are buying a car that they have a financial interest in. They may insist that you pay them directly for the settlement amount, and then pay the owner the balance. But you should definitely not be driving off in the car until you know that the finance has been paid off.

  71. Yes, they are; I’ve counted eleven dealerships.
    If I get my £1000 back I will walk away but if not I will have to bite the bullet as my reading of your article above means I fall into the category of signing up on their premises, although, interestingly, they have still advertised the car for sale on their internet site which does not chime with your comment: “The dealer takes the car off sale so no-one else can buy it….”
    Whatever happens, I’ll certainly follow your advice and go down the complaint route with the manufacturer and other bodies. A few pictures of vehicle pricing on site matched to internet advertising would be pretty conclusive.
    Many thanks.

    • The car may still show up on internet ads; that’s not really a problem as long as if anyone else calls up about that car, they are told that it has been sold awaiting payment and delivery. If the dealer is a large multi-site operation, it may also be that the ads are all managed centrally and there is a delay in taking your car off the site.

      Sales do fall through all the time if customers change their minds or fail on finance, so a dealer is entitled to say something like “That car is sold subject to receiving payment, but I can give you a call if it falls over.” As long as they are not still actively trying to sell the car to someone else at a higher price after you have already purchased it, it’s OK.

  72. Thanks Stuart
    Appreciate your help. Feeling a bit chastened. My experience is exactly as described in that article and by several of the subsequent comments. Shocking thing is that this is an enormous Toyota dealership, really big with many sites.
    Just a quick update as a cautionary tale: 48 hours later the car is still being advertised at £10,300 then this morning it appears at £11.995. I guess it’s obvious what is going to happen in the subsequent ‘negotiations’. It’s quite clear and provable however, that there is a systematic dishonest practice involved and their behaviour is not smart but as stupid as their contempt is for the customer. The next car on their used model list is exactly the same spec, metallic black vs metallic grey, at just under half the mileage, later 65 reg as opposed to this 15 reg and is priced at £10,490. This is not a one off, there are a number of other examples where comparable cars are advertised at unbelievably lower prices. I have cached these pages and printed off a number of examples so ready to fight my corner. If Trading Standards, Toyota Customer Services, Credit Card Issuer involvement all means less to them than screwing me for £500 and the consequent reputational issue, then so be it. Any further tips will be gratefully received.

    • If it’s a franchised Toyota dealer, get in touch with Toyota GB to complain about their dealer practices. You can also complain to the dealer’s head office.

      Ultimately, you have to decide if you’re comfortable buying a car from these people at all, even if you get the lowest advertised price. If this is how they operate to sell the car in the first place, how do you think they operate in preparing the vehicle or repairing faults?

  73. Hi Stuart
    Two days ago I visited a main dealership looking at a second used car for the Mrs – window shopping not intending to purchase. Saw something she liked and negotiated down the price but a little uneasy as had done little research at that point. Left a £1000 deposit on my credit card. Within 24 hours I am looking at their site and that car is on their web page, and still is right now, being offered at £500 less than we ended up at – and at a price some £1500 less than they started me off at on their premises. I have spoken to them in polite, no uncertain terms this morning and not getting very far but awaiting call back to resolve. It’s clearly not a ‘web mistake’ as their are other similar cars being advertised around this price, several being similarly marked down from a previous higher price. I’m not wanting to refuse the car but to get it at the lower price quoted on their internet site. Can I get my deposit back if they do not budge; have I got any rights via the card company?
    On another point, is it advisable to do a vehicle check when buying from a main dealer or is that unnecessary?

    • Hi Percy. Have a read of our article about used car pricing – it’s fairly common, unfortunately. They should sell it to you for the lowest advertised price.

      Yes, for your own peace of mind, you should always do your own vehicle check. It’s worth the £20 to have your own record of the vehicle’s history.

  74. Hi there, A few days ago I signed a used car sales invoice but didn’t put down a deposit. I have subsequently had a change of mind as the car wasn’t quite right gut feeling! We informed the dealer of this and have now received a letter saying its a legally binding contract. As no money has changed hands where do I stand on this?

    • Hi Tommy. The dealer is correct that you have signed a legally-binding contract. In practical terms, there’s not a huge amount they can do unless they want to take you to court – and that’s a considerable expense with a very uncertain prospect for success.

  75. Hi Stuart

    I hope you can Help I ordered a new Kia in July but due to a change in circumstances I can no longer afford it, I have not paid a deposit, I was meant to part ex my current car, where do I stand? will I incur a charge?
    Thanks Ruth

    • Hi Ruth. Legally, you don’t have the option to change your mind because you can no longer afford the car. However, if you have not paid a deposit then there is not a lot a dealer can do if you cancel the order. They will probably get grumpy and may even threaten legal action, but it really isn’t worth it or in their interests to do so.

  76. Hi Stuart, you seem to be the go to person on all of this, I have a query. I bought a car this week on finance, put down a hefty deposit and completed and picked up the car today. I was in a bit of a rush as I needed to get to the school run, but as we were setting everything up and showing me the radio I asked how I made spotify work through the bluetooth. At this point the salesman said ‘you can’t stream, you have to use a usb or aux in. I had not read in thorough detail all the specs as it was online, and I haven’t printed it out to see if it said no bluetooth music as I presumed when they said bluetooth in the spec and verbally said all the whistles and bells, that’s what they meant. I had explained I do 24000 miles a year and had mentioned music on the stereo and nothing had been said. Do I have any rights to take it back as the thought of 2 years and 48000miles without the music in the manner that I want it, makes me very upset. I put the deposit down with a credit card.

    • Hi Caroline. ‘Bluetooth’ in terms of car specification has traditionally related to making and receiving hands-free phone calls. Music streaming is a separate issue and far fewer cars have this feature.

      Unless you have proof (ie – in writing) that you specifically asked about music streaming and were told that this vehicle had it, you have no grounds to return the vehicle. A verbal conversation about a feature can’t be proved, as the dealer can directly contradict whatever you say and there’s nothing you can do about it.

      You should be able to connect your phone to the stereo via the USB or auxiliary port to listen to Spotify.

    • Thank you, I’m shocked BMW doesn’t do this with android, I have had no problems with lesser cars. I’m now looking into adapters. The garage was willing to buy it back but now a child’s small tantrum has put a 4 inch scratch on the bumper so who knows what that will cost! I’m going to have a couple of miserable years then take the lessons I’ve learnt and try again.
      Thanks again

  77. Hi Stuart

    I am a private seller on ebay, I had a guy make me an offer for my car and I said I could only sell it for the reduced price he offered if it was a cash sale outside of ebay, he agreed and paid me £100 via paypal to remove my ebay listing which I did and we agreed he would come and pay the rest when he collected the car on saturday, now less than 24 hours later he is saying he no longer wants to purchase my car as he does not feel happy being the 8th registered owner of it and has asked for his deposit back, I have now had to re-list my car which incurs yet more ebay charges. Do I have to pay him his deposit back or not? paying him his deposit back feels like i’m encouraging time wasters like this on and off ebay.

    • Hi Craig. If it is a private cash sale, there are no real rules and he is going to have to take you to court to get his £100 back – and then have a good reason for the judge to take his side.

      However, I have no idea if you have violated any of eBay’s T&Cs, so he may try to report you to eBay if you have as a means of getting his money back one way or another.

  78. Hi Stuart.

    I have paid over the phone £500 deposit on a 1 owner, full service history, 3 year old Honda used approved car from main dealer. Car being advertised at £10k. I was told that this deposit is fully refundable.I was also told that car is is perfect condition and will be ready to drive away same day. I have travelled over 200 miles to see this car. During test drive it came out that there is a lot of steering wheel judder at and above 70mph. I was told that this is possibly due to a worn tyre or badly balanced wheels. I have discussed with a salesman that i am still happy to buy the car but they will have to sort this judder and worn tyre prior to me signing anything or paying for the car. I was told that unfortunately they won’t be able to carry out necessary repairs on the same day and i will have to come back again to their dealership again in few days time to finalise this deal.
    After coming back home I decided to do my own hpi check on this car which showed outstanding finance (possibly a dealer’s finance) but nothing else. I have also went through car’s VOSA MOT history as i was not presented with any mot paperwork during my visit at dealership.
    VOSA MOT history check showed that car was MOT by main dealer 4 weeks ago and initially failed on Supplementary Restraint System warning lamp indicating a fault, and there where two MOT advisories on rear inner Brake pad(s) wearing thin and offside front Tyre worn close to the legal limit.
    After it’s MOT failure it seems that SRS system has been put right and car has been retested and successfully passed his test this time but still came back with the same advisories as before.
    Obviously i have not been told about any of this by the seller.
    I don’t think confident buying this car now and unless considerable discount or other form of compensation is given i am seriously considering pulling out of this deal completely and wondering if this will mean loosing my £500 deposit?

    Please advise.

    • Hi Paul. Given that the deposit was placed over the phone before you had seen the car, you would have the right to cancel and get your £500 back. However, if you signed a contract while you were at the dealership, this would probably supercede your initial deposit and the dealer could hold you to the contract unless there were clauses regarding cancellation.

      A dealer is not obliged to fix an MOT advisory, so they are unlikely to agree to replacing the brake pads and tyres.

      Having already made a commitment to the car (albeit refundable), you don’t really have the legal option to demand a discount or compensation. It’s basically take it or leave it. The dealer may agree to additional measures to keep you from cancelling, but you are potentially muddying the waters if you agree to this and then decide to cancel again.

  79. Stuart – I thought this was an excellent article.

    I recently had a rather gutting experience, losing out on a car.

    I saw a low mileage FSH Aston Martin DBS CBE for sale at a good price. I am based abroad so contacted the dealer by telephone. The salesman and I had a good chat. I expressed my interest in the car as an investment and indicated that I would seek financing on the car. I politely asked if the dealer would keep me informed of any developments and he agreed.

    I subsequently received that evening an email from the MD of the company thanking me for my interest and offering to hold the car for me on the payment of a 5,000 GBP deposit. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this for obvious reasons, so was prepared to take the risk of losing the car.

    For the following four business days I spoke with the salesman twice daily updating him on the progress of the financing (it takes time here). On the fourth day, I indicated that it had been approved in principle and I was just awaiting formal confirmation. However, I made an offer (slightly below list price) and said I was happy to wire a 1,000 GBP deposit to “hold” the car until the morning. The salesman never responded. On the fifth morning, I received confirmation of financing and called the salesman. I was told that he was on holiday and was put through to the MD. He then told me that 30 minutes prior he had taken a 1,000 GBP deposit “subject to finance” and that I had lost the car. He even told me that his principle is to “treat everyone equally” and therefore, it was first come, first served.

    Bottom line, the car has been sold and there is nothing I can do about it. The dealer was not obligated to deal with me or offer the car to me once they received the other offer. I do however think that this is atrocious client handling skills and that a reputable dealer would have called me as a courtesy and explained the situation to both me and the other potential buyer, and given me at least an opportunity to say yay or nay (as we were negotiating first).

    Interesting to read your article because I had not been minded to think of the Consumer legislation aspects of this. As the sale was at a distance, I could lawfully have paid the deposit upfront, and cancelled the contract had my finance not been approved, and then demanded a refund – at least that is how I read your article. It was the risk of losing the 5,000 GBP if my finance was not approved that made me hold back. I have always worked on the basis that such deposits are non-refundable. But if you are right, I should not have had such concerns – or at least in theory (there would always be a risk that the dealer would keep the cash and I would have to litigate the matter to get it back). Is this correct?

    Any comments would be really useful to soothe my battered soul…


    P.s. contrary the modern day trend of naming and shaming, I am not going to disclose the name of the dealer in Derbyshire (I think a frosty exchange by email ex-post facto has hopefully encouraged the MD to review his client handling skills).

    • Can’t offer any comment on their tone, but they are correct to say that the car gets sold to the first person to sign an order and/or put down a deposit. It is entirely possible that the successful buyer had appeared out of the blue and put down their money exactly as the MD said, because that does happen a lot.

      Having worked in car sales for a decade, I have heard plenty of people say that they are just sorting out their finance and will be in a position to do something shortly, or that they are just waiting on some money to come in, and every other excuse for not committing to buying the car they are interested in. Until you are prepared to put down your money, you haven’t bought a car and a dealer is entitled to sell it to anyone else who walks in or calls them. They have no obligation to tell you that someone else is interested in that car. You hadn’t ‘lost’ the car because you never had it.

      Indeed, if a car dealer tells a customer “Well, I need to tell you that we have another person interested in that car already,” most customers would assume it is simply a sales ploy (which is because it usually is).

      You are correct that you should have been able to place a deposit and had the right to claim it back again if you didn’t go ahead with the vehicle. but as you point out. Coincidentally, we have written further about this in our latest deposit about when you are entitled to get your deposit back.

  80. Hi Stuart,

    Wondering if I can get some advice.

    I went to look at a car on wednesday at a dealership. I was intending on getting it on finance, and the sales rep told me I could leave a deposit and it would be refundable if things didn’t work out and I could walk away.

    The finance group got in touch with me, and I wasn’t happy with the deal, so I decided to get a bank loan instead. I rang the dealer to say I was going to buy the car outright and he asked if I wanted to leave a deposit. I said yes sure, and paid the deposit over the phone. I haven’t signed anything, and it was a verbal contract.

    Yesterday (thursday) I decided I didn’t want the car anymore, it was an 04 VW Polo and he was asking for £2375 which I just didn’t think was worth paying for, so when I called to cancel, he was pretty annoyed about it and then just said, “and you know the deposit is non-refundable”, to which I questioned and he said that it was only refundable if I was seeking finance and couldn’t get the finance. There was never any mention that this was exclusive to this, and by mentioning that I was buying the car in full this would void this. He is refusing to pay it back and is basically telling me to try and get it back.

    My bank aren’t helping because they say that, because I ‘changed my mind’, it doesn’t really work with their policies. This isn’t covering the fact that I was lied to and missold the deposit.

    What do you think I can do? It was only £100, but the point is I’ve been conned here.



    • Stuart,

      I don’t think it’s very fair or honest though.

      What about in your article where you have said:

      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.

      How does this work then?
      Surely the fact he has mis sold something to me must mean something?

    • You have no grounds to get your deposit back. You visited the dealership and inspected the car in person. Distance selling is provided where the car is bought entirely off-premises.

      You have a claim of a verbal promise but nothing in writing. The dealer could reply that you were specifically told the deposit was non-refundable but you wanted to go ahead anyway. I would have thought that a judge would be highly unlikely to find in your favour.

  81. Hi Stuart,

    Hope you can advise on my current situation…
    I ordered a new car to my specification back in May through a broker and paid a £1000 deposit over the phone which was passed on to the dealer to make the order with the manufacturer. Finance sums were agreed on and I was told the order had been placed. There was around a 12 week wait regardless for this particular vehicle. I received an order form, which I did not sign and also documents which I believe to be finance request forms (not an actual agreement) which just asked for personal and professional info.

    During early July I requested a test drive and went to the dealer for this but afterwards just asked to take a look at the latest documents they had. As it turned out they missed off part of the specification I had ordered and said it was too late to change etc etc. Ok fine, so they put in another correct order with the manufacturer again.

    Only thing is it won’t arrive until maybe mid October which means it hasn’t yet been built yet but the original vehicle is already in the country.

    I’m now thinking about cancelling this order now, do you think I can get my deposit back?

    To throw in another curveball, since the delivery is now 3 months later than it should be I will be starting a new job before any finance documents are signed – therefore I’m thinking that under their rules I will not be approved finance on the basis of not being in my new job for a certain period of time.

    • Hi Jamie. If you cancel your order, you can expect to lose your £1,000. If the finance company declines your finance application, you should be able to get your £1,000 back as the other side has cancelled the contract.

  82. Hi Stuart,

    I guess I’ve a similar problem to some of the people who asked for your advice. I went yesterday to a Vauxhall dealer because I needed a car. I tried a quite resent car and decided it would be a good choice and went forward with the paperwork and to check if the credit would be approved and payed 500 £ deposit. Later I start to realise that maybe I just went to far from what I could actually afford. Now this fall within the 14 days cooling-off period so, even if I don’t get my 500 £ back (which will be very hard to me) I will avoid a lot of trouble. For what I’ve been reading on your posts, I can cancel the deal although I will probably lose the 500 £ but on other foruns some people are saying that although you can actually cancel the finance deal withing this 14 days, the actual purchase of the car can’t be cancelled. Meaning the finance company will cancel the deal but you still owe the car. If this is the case the deal it self is not actually cancelled. I read your article more than once, I know I did a childish mistake but I’m trying to stop this to get any worse. Can you advise me on which options I have?

    • Hi Luis. You are correct that the finance agreement has a 14-day cooling-off period but the car purchase does not.

      If you have not taken delivery of the vehicle, you can probably negotiate with the dealer to cancel the contract and lose your deposit. If you have already taken delivery of the vehicle, then you are stuck with it.

  83. Hi a week ago I visited a dealer and agreed to purchase a new car from a dealer, finance was agreed but no paperwork for this has yet been signed, car won’t be ready till September, we are now in July. I paid a £1000 deposit and they are taking my current car as part exchange, however after careful consideration I don’t feel I am financially in a good enough position to take this on and now want to cancel it. The dealer emailed me the order form which I have signed and returned via email, no paperwork has been signed at the dealership. can I get out of this agreement and get my deposit back?

    • Hi Kylie. Yes, you should be able to. Legally it would be a bit of argument, since you left a deposit at the dealership but signed the contract off-site. But if you simply cancel the order, request a full refund and keep chasing them until you get it, you should be fine.

      If they give you any grief, keep arguing. For more information, have a read of our article on how to handle a dispute with a dealership.

  84. Hi im after a bit of advice please, on Wednesday my wife went into our local evans halshaw dealership to look at second hand cars to replace ours, the main reason was to lower running costs, ins, tax as the car we have atm is quite expensive.

    She found a car she likes but told the sales guy she would have to ok it with me first, and of course the sales guy suggested to put a deposit on the car to hold it and if for whatever reason I didn’t like the car she can get a refund.

    While she was sat at the desk paying the deposit the sales guy asks her questions like how she would pay for the car if she went ahead etc which the answer was finance. So he suggested filling in the paper work while she was there and they can do all the checks to make sure finance would be approved and it would save time if we decide to buy the car and so she signed the papers thinking it was just to get checked out etc but it was actually the agreement to buy the car and not just for finance checks like he told her.

    Next day we both go to see the car and I don’t like it i think its too small but wifey still likes it so we decide to consider for a little longer still under the impression she can cancel so didn’t think there would be a problem. The next day (Friday now) i decided im not happy with the car so took her to other dealers to see other cars and we found a better one, by this time Friday night evans halshaw was closed so couldnt tell them to cancel until saturday.

    So saturday we go in to tell them we want to cancel and the manager said the finance company has already paid them so its too late we have to pick up the car on monday, we tell him all the blahblah about sales guy saying we can cancel etc but obviously he denies it and denied lying to my wife and says we put deposit down so we agree to buy the car.

    After looking on your site we know this to be true now but at the time obviously we were unaware of this and naive. Today is sunday and the 5th day since she paid deposit so we are still in 14 day cancellation period for the finance and we have not received the car yet so my question is if we call the finance company can/will they cancel it even tho they already gave the money to the dealer? And if they do cancel it does the dealer have to give them their money back or is it up to us to make sure they get the money back? I realise the deposit is lost but is it possible for the finance company to cancel the credit then make us pay it back while the dealer sits there with the money and the car and tells us hes not giving us the money to force us into taking the car? Hope that makes sense and sorry for being long winded thanks in advance

    • Hi Nick. I would speak to the finance company directly, and point out that you feel that you have been lied to and mis-sold by the dealership. They will also be able to tell you if the agreement really has been activated yet. If the contract has been activated and the money paid out, you will be relying on the dealer returning the money to the finance company on your behalf.

      You can try complaining to the dealership about the behaviour of their sales staff. Have a read of our article about resolving a dispute with a car dealer. They may agree to cancel it all and refund your deposit.

      At the end of the day, your wife signed a legally-binding contract, and the likelihood of you getting your money back and walking away from the deal will depend on how well you can argue your case. The salesperson could easily argue that he explained exactly what she was signing and that she genuinely wanted to buy the car, but later changed her mind and is trying to back out by blaming the dealer (which happens all the time, and drives dealers nuts). Ultimately, it comes down to what is on paper, and by the sound of it, you and your wife have bought a car.

  85. Evening Stuart, we paid Car Place, Birmingham £800 deposit for a car we saw online so that they would deliver to us in Stirling, Scotland. The verbal deal was we were to pay the balance of £13800 upon delivery, when we were happy with the condition of the car. We signed nothing. The car arrived late Friday night on the back of a truck. We never took the car off the truck as we could see the panel gaps between bonnet & front wings, A-pillar etc were all wrong (not symmetrical) . The car was returned to Car Place on the same truck. I am now going round the houses with the dealer to get my deposit back. I realise they have a round trip delivery cost but where do we stand on recovery of our deposit re the distance selling rules? If I can get no satisfaction over the phone with the dealer, what is my next step? Will this involve lawyers & hence more costs to ourselves? What is a typical timeline for resolution on such issues?

    thanks Alistair

    • Hi Alistair. If there was nothing explained in writing, then you are probably set for an argument with the dealer over transport cots. Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations (which replaced the Distance Selling Act), you are entitled to a refund for your deposit, but the dealer can claim costs if nothing has been set out in writing. They can’t reasonably claim that their costs of transport would be £800, but they are unlikely to refund the whole amount.

  86. Hi I placed a deposit on a new 16 plate car on 3rd of this month and I have been advised by my accountant that I should cancel deal as due to my financial situation has now changed where I could mis payments I spoke to dealership today and they said that’s ok we will confirm that with me in the next few days is there a problem where they could ask for more monies owed as i did pay a £500 deposit which I said I am happy for them to keep as I am unable to take delivery of the car and also it has not even arrived in the country yet and also I have not signed an order form or any other pcp documents

  87. Hi I placed a deposit On a Santa Fe on the 3rd of this month I also run a business where my out goings are quite large but my accountant has told due to my financial situation where I could miss payments I should cancel the deal is worst thing that I could be told is that they will keep my deposit which I don’t mind as I have not signed any documents to confirm my order as also the car has not even been shipped from it factory yet I just told them today but the dealership can’t confirm the cancellation as manager is off the next two days could I be told to pay for any other monies owed

  88. Hi Stuart,

    I’ve recently put a £500 deposit on a car at an ‘approved’ Kia dealer, then 24 hours changed my mind as I came across a more suitable spec at a different ‘approved’ Kia dealer. Now I have purchased this car from the other dealer, but the dealer where I changed my mind refuses to refund my deposit!

    I have purchased exactly the same model of car from Kia’s approved garage, just different spec, yet I am told this is still non-refundable. I currently have a case file open with Kia Head Office and await the outcome of that, but if that gets me nowhere, I will look to go down the small claims route.

    On Kia’s website, for its approved used car sales it states 60 day or 1000 miles exchange policy, yet I changed my mind in 24 hours and purchased elsewhere?

    Surely I am entitled to my original refund?

    Can you help?



    • Hi Adam. The two dealerships are almost certainly completely different businesses, with the only thing in common being that they each have a Kia franchise. The first dealership is obviously not going to refund your deposit if you are trying to renege on a legally-binding contract and go to buy another car from another dealership. It doesn’t matter that they are both Kia dealers; they are separate companies operating independently of one another. So you have effectively bought two cars from two different dealers, and both of them are entitled to expect you to fulfil your legally-binding contracts.

      Kia head office is entirely unlikely to intervene in your favour. The exchange policy doesn’t work in the manner you are suggesting – if you buy a vehicle and are not happy with it, you can exchange it for another vehicle of the same value from the same dealership (not from any dealership in the country).

  89. Hi Stuart,
    I recently bought a car last week on hire purchase with a considerable deposit. After buying I noticed 2 Audi upgrades had been mis-advertised. I checked with the Audi main dealer and they confirmed the upgrades were not on the car and the upgrades became “standard” (i.e. included) on the newer models.

    I went back to the dealer and their response was that the car description is “auto-generated” on their website and they have the legal clause below on their website so there was “nothing they can do”:

    “Please note
    The data displayed above details the usual specification of the most recent model of this vehicle. It is not the exact data for the actual vehicle being offered for sale and data for older models may vary slightly. We recommend that you always check the details with the seller prior to purchase. ”

    Basically they copied a new model description which included the 2 missing upgrades as this was not included as standard on the older model.

    It’s just not right that dealers can mislead customers with descriptions that don’t match the car and get away with it. In any other trade you would be in court.

    Any advice is appreciated.

    • Hi Scott. If you didn’t buy it from an Audi dealer, then you won’t be able to get Audi UK’s assistance in sorting your problem, and it’s difficult to do much about it unless it was done deliberately to intentionally mislead customers.

      Part of the problem is that specifications can change at any point in the year, so one 2011 Audi A4 (for example) may not be the same as another 2011 Audi A4. If it is a general used car dealership which sells all sorts of vehicles, there is a good chance that they will not be aware of the specification differences, and simply load the car into the third-party advertising site (such as Auto Trader) as a 2011 Audi A4 without realising that the automatically-generated specs may not be correct.

      If you have reason to believe that it was done deliberately, you could argue that you have been mis-sold and demand your money back. However, you also have a responsibility to make sure that the car does in fact have all the features you want rather than relying on the third-party advertisement.

  90. Hi Stuart,

    I recently paid a deposit to hold a Golf after viewing it, the dealership had advertised the vehicle as having 12 months MOT but realised that the current MOT was due to expire in July 2016 so agreed to get a new MOT done ready for purchase. I paid a £100 deposit but did not sign anything at all, no contract or agreement to purchase just received a receipt.

    A few days later I was advised the MOT was complete and there were no advisories.

    On collection a number of discrepancies in the vehicle paperwork came to light.

    The advert does not mention any CAT C or CAT D damage, however when I mentioned the right headlight look slightly out of line they then told me there was CAT C damage from an accident in 2010 but it had been on the road for six years since then with no issues. On checking the logbook the accident had been recorded however there were no dates and it did not say anywhere which category it was. I asked them to show me where they had found the information relating to the date and category type but they could not, they had guessed CAT C however this could well have been CAT D, there was no proof.

    The vehicle had been MOT in July 2015 and again in April 2016 (ready for me to purchase) however the mileage on the April MOT certificate had decreased by a significant amount from the July 2015 MOT. When I asked them about it they told me it was probably just a clerical error, they hadn’t noticed themselves and there was nothing to worry about, that I shouldn’t let that put me off. I could have perhaps understood this if the mileage was a digit out however every digit was different from one MOT certificate to another. The MOT also brought to light that the vehicle had been off the road for at least two and half years due to the gap between the MOT dates. This concerned me as they had told me the car had never been off the road.

    With the discrepancies in mileage and the incorrect information about the CAT C or D I told the dealership that I did not want to purchase the vehicle.

    No agreement was signed prior to paying a deposit and the vehicle was never actually removed from the market. The dealership continued to advertise it on e-bay (as buy it now) & it still had the for sale sign in the vehicle window when I arrived to collect it. I’m not sure if this would mean the car was actually ‘held’ for me if someone else could still ‘buy now’ online in the 10 days between me viewing it and going to collect it?

    The dealership refused to give me the deposit back, I told them the vehicle was not as advertised, they had no proof the damage was CAT C, the date the damage occurred and did not seem to understand that the mileage decreasing was a big issue.

    It seems they have been dishonest with me and tried to pull the wool over my eyes.

    Should I be able to get my deposit back from this dealership? If so how would I go about this as the dealer very aggressively told me I would not get my money back.

    Many thanks in advance.

    • Hi Andrew. There certainly seems to be enough in your story to warrant cancelling the order and getting your money back.
      First and foremost, the car has been mis-sold. Cat C and Cat D write-offs must be declared when advertised – they are still legal to sell, but have had significant repairs after accident damage (especially Cat C). The mileage is also an issue – you should be able to check previous MOTs and see whether this really is a ‘clerical error’ or whether the odometer has been wound back.
      It’s not unusual (although not really best practice) for cars to still be advertised after a sale until full payment is received – if the deal falls over, the dealer could potentially have someone else who would buy the car, so that’s not really a problem. It would be a problem if someone else wanted to buy the car and was not told that it was sold subject to funds being received.

      Basically, the dealer sounds rather dodgy. You appear entitled to a refund, but that doesn’t mean he will play along nicely and give it back to you. You may need to make a complaint to the Ombudsman, or seek legal advice on dealing with him – start with legalbeagles.info. Unfortunately, for £100 it’s not really worth engaging a solicitor to take legal action against him.

  91. Hi Stuart, I recently put down a 2K deposit on a car having dealt with the dealer via the phone as the car was over an hour and a half drive away. However they have sent me the vehicle order form to complete and I have changed my mind as it will be too much of a financial stretch to buy the vehicle. Can I get my 2K deposit back?

  92. Hi Stuart,

    this may have been covered before but I was looking for a new car and found one on the VW website which was a used polo. The veh was some distance from where I live and so I placed a deposit through the VW website by paypal prior to test driving the veh. On going to the garage and test driving it I wasn’t entirely sure about it as the garage were poor in how they dealt with me or the price they were offering for my car as a part ex and I wanted time to think about it. I have had no paperwork from them or sales receipt /order form but have had email paypal receipt and an email from them thanking me for reserving online and stating that if I chose not to purchase then the deposit would be refunded.

    In the meantime I had seen a similar vehicle at another VW garage also far away from where I live and rang them to enquire. I advised garage 2 that I wouldn’t be able to get to see their vehicle until the following weekend and they told me that they couldn’t guarantee it would still be available but the would hold it for me to review and test drive with a £100 deposit. I agreed and paid a deposit by debit card over the phone. The salesman told me that if I test drove the vehicle and didn’t like it I would be refunded my deposit. In the following couple of days he took the vehicle off sale and I received a sales receipt, pre collection check list and a vehicle order form, which gives me the impression the sales person thinks Ive bought the car. At this stage I have not even been into their franchise, test drove it or signed any paperwork. Their vehicle is 3k more than the first one I saw and on reflection have decided not to pursue this vehicle and as I have not been into the dealership to test drive it and haven’t signed any paperwork am I entitled to my £100 holding deposit back. And how would I stand with the first dealer should I decide not to progress as I have paid them £500 via paypal?

    Thanks in advance


    • Hi Jonti. As far as I can see, you have been told by both dealerships that your deposits can be refunded, so you should be fine.

      And for future reference, you should not need to be putting deposits down prior to test driving – Polos are not that rare and important that you have to be that desperate to secure a car. Have a read of our 10 Golden Rules for buying a car.

    • Stuart thanks for that, I presume in both instances Im also covered by the new act in relation to distance selling…I paid a holding fee for the second vehicle over the phone and haven’t been into their showroom or signed a contact.

  93. Hi, I agreed to buy a Volvo through the select network of used cars in uk. The dealer first told me it was with them for 4-5 weeks. After some calls and discussion over details and a number of days we settled on a price and I paid a deposit by credit card. Since then I have had more discussions with the dealer and he has admitted that they have had the vehicle since end of November ( 4 months not 4 weeks ) and a previous deal fell through.
    I have lost faith in the deal and am unlikely to go ahead with it. Will I still be able to get my deposit back?
    I live in Northern Ireland and the 4×4 is near London so all of the dealings have been done by phone and email. I don’t want to fly over to pick up the car and discover something amiss and have to try to get home again.

    • Hi Vince. If the salesperson has been lying to you about the vehicle details, even a relatively insignificant detail, you should be able to cancel the agreement and get your deposit back. Complain to the dealer principal/general manager about their sales conduct, and you should be able to get a refund without too much hassle.

    • Stuart,
      Thank you for that. I thought that would be the case, but good to hear someone else say the same. The salesman said he had only been with the company a short while but had worked in other branches of Volvo before so it could be genuine on his part or a bit of a stretch of the truth!

  94. Hi, I have just paid £250 deposit on a car and agreed to part exchange mine and pay finance for the left over amount. However I have to pay another £450 left over deposit as the agreed amount was £700. This was two days ago. Am I able to change my mind about how much deposit I give them and increase the amount of my monthly repayments.

    • Hi Bethany. You should usually be able to do this, unless the finance company has stipulated a minimum level of deposit (which is not unusual)

      The only other problem would be if the contract has already been activated and the finance company has already paid the dealer.

  95. Hi Stuart I financed a used Vauxhall Mokka in February 2016, a 2013 plate the car has had an oil leak, needs the water heater replaced and now I cannot turn off the heating either I have complained often and have to wait for them to fix it all. Is this classed as faulty and is there a way to get out of this finance? As I am now worried about what will happen next. I have just had it for 2 months and also paid £1000 deposit. Where do I go from here?

  96. Hi Stuart

    I put a deposit down for 1k at an audi dealer… when I did my groundwork on the car(HPI report) it showed the car had outstanding finance on it. The car I put a deposit down for was a demonstration model which was being used as a company car by one of the audi employees.
    They did not tell me this before I put down a deposit and now it makes me question what else they are not telling me about the car. As its only been 4 days since I put a deposit down, I now would like a refund on this. Am I entitled to my refund as I do not want to go ahead and buy the car? No paperwork etc has been signed only a deposit to hold the car has been placed by me


    • Hi Nick. Virtually any car that you buy from a dealer will be under finance, as the dealership usually finances all of its vehicles – few dealerships could afford to own all of their stock outright. So check with the dealer that the finance listed is actually the dealer’s own finance.

      If the finance is not the dealer’s, they are not allowed to sell the car, so you would have every right to be concerned.

  97. Hi Stuart
    Thank you for you reply, unfortunately to many people like myself dive into these things without carrying out the basic checks and then look to someone like yourself for help when things do not go our way.
    Once again thank you


  98. Hi Stuart. I was looking for a bit of advice, I went to look at a car yesterday and put a £300 deposit on it, a used cars dealer this was around 4pm yesterday on the way home we did a vehicle check and the results told us the car had a category D vehicle damage. I when called the dealer at 10:30 this morning to explain what we had discovered and I told him I would not be buying the car because of this reason, he told me he would not refund my money because it does say cat D on the advent which I never picked up on.
    I also agreed to pay the deposit but would not sign the agreement/ invoice until the weekend when we came to test and collect the vehicle which the dealer was happy with, do I have a leg to stand on.
    Thanks Malcolm

    • Hi Malcolm. Dealers are required to declare if a car is a Category C or D in their advertisements, so if it is shown in the ad then they have no reason to refund your deposit. They are entitled to expect that you would have read the ad fully before making your enquiry.

      If it was not advertised as a Category D vehicle, then you have every right to demand a refund. But you would need to have a physical copy of the ad which backs up your case.