car buying header

Car buying advice

Is my deposit refundable?

Can you get your money back if the sale does not go ahead? It depends...

- Advertisement -

We get a lot of questions on our forum and in the comments sections of our articles from car buyers who have given a car dealer a deposit for a car and now – for whatever reason – want it back.

Quite often, buyers will be told that a deposit is refundable if they change their mind, only to subsequently change their minds and be told they can’t have their deposit back after all.

Usually, there is no legal right for you to change your mind after buying a car from a dealer. There are no grounds to terminate the contract on medical grounds, compassionate grounds, loss of job or anything else. Once you hand over your cash, it’s gone.

Trying to get your deposit back again involves negotiating the agreement of the dealer to refund your money, and is usually entirely up to them to decide to do so or not.

It should be noted that there are legal arguments about how much deposit a dealer is entitled to keep based on their reasonable costs and losses of income from a cancelled order. However, if it gets to the point where you are taking the dealer to court to argue about getting some or all of your deposit back, you are probably spending much more than whatever the deposit was anyway.

So what are the rules regarding deposits and when should you be able to have your deposit refunded?

When is a deposit not really a deposit?

The first problem is the word itself. Many people think of a deposit as a refundable bond or temporary holding payment, but in car sales that isn’t generally true. When you give a car dealer a deposit, it is considered an upfront or initial payment on a car. As a rule, it is not refundable unless specific circumstances apply.

When buying a car from a dealership, the dealer will want two things: a signed contract and/or a deposit. Having both is better, but one or the other will do if necessary to consider a car sold. If you sign an order form or give a car dealer a deposit on a vehicle, you are buying that car. The deposit is a form of security to hold the car until you are ready to pay the rest of the money and collect the vehicle. If you change your mind, you lose the deposit. Simple enough in most cases.

This is entirely fair enough. Car dealers exist to sell cars. If you walk in and say “I want to buy this car right here”, but you are not prepared to sign an order form and are not prepared to put down a deposit, then you’re not serious about buying the car.

A dealer is not going to hold that car for you without some kind of guarantee that you are actually going to come back with the rest of the money. A signed order is nice, but if you try to back out of it then there’s not a lot they can do unless they want to take you to court. So they take a deposit – the amount may vary, but it has to be significant enough that you won’t simply vanish if you change your mind. You will want that money back and they will be able to either fight you for it or use it as an opportunity to keep you from cancelling your order.

Taking a deposit is also a tactical ploy from the salesperson. Once you have pulled out your wallet, you are making a psychological commitment to buying that car and you are less likely to change your mind or keep looking around for a better deal.

Giving a car dealer a cash deposit on a car

But the salesman told me that my deposit was refundable!

If a dealer tells you that a deposit is fully refundable if you change your mind, do not believe them unless they are prepared to put that in writing. This means getting them to email you to spell out the conditions for refunding your deposit, and/or noting on your receipt (always get a receipt) to say that the money paid is refundable if you choose not to continue with the purchase.

Most dealers will not be prepared to put the above in writing. Why not? Because deposits are not usually refundable unless it is the dealer who is cancelling the order.

Always remember that a verbal promise from a car dealer is worth nothing. If someone promises you something, get it in writing in an official document (email is fine, as it will show sender, email address and date) or else the promise does not really exist. It’s Rule Eight of our Ten Golden Rules.

So when is a deposit refundable?

Generally, there is no cooling-off period when you buy a car from a dealership. If you visit the dealer and buy a car that you have seen at the dealership, even if the actual sale takes place off-premises, then you have bought that car and there is no legal basis to cancel your order and get your deposit back.

However, if the entirety of the sale takes place off-premises (so you are buying a car without ever visiting the dealership), then you have 14 days to change your mind – even after paying for the car and taking delivery. In this case, you are entitled to a full refund of any monies paid (some conditions do apply, though).

If the dealer cancels the order for whatever reason, such as the car no longer being available (it happens a lot, particularly in large multi-site operations), then you are entitled to your money back.

If the contract is voided for any reason, such as the factory not being able to supply the vehicle (production may have ended or halted, or the specification may have changed), then you are entitled to have your deposit back and are not obliged to take another vehicle.

If your finance application is declined, most dealers will refund your deposit without question. Technically, they could hold you to the contract and oblige you to find funding elsewhere, but in reality this doesn’t normally happen and you can get your money back.

Never give a car dealer money unless you are 100% comfortable with buying the car

This is one of The Car Expert’s Ten Golden Rules of buying a car. Only hand over your cash or credit card once you are completely comfortable with buying that exact car for that exact amount of money (whether cash or finance).

If you’re still hoping to get a better deal, or you’re not sure about your job circumstances, or you’re not fully convinced about the colour, or you haven’t discussed it with your significant other or your accountant, or any other reason at all, then don’t put a deposit down on the car. It is always much more hassle to get your money back again than it is to not spend it in the first place.

This article was originally published in August 2016. Last updated August 2019.

Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
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.

Latest from The Car Expert

Expert Advice

Award-winning, independent and impartial advice on buying, financing, owning and running a car

How much are the loyalty penalties for car insurance?

Loyal home and car insurance customers could find themselves paying significantly more than new customers, the City regulator has found.

The best new estate cars for every budget

Estate cars have lost popularity against SUVs, but they may be a better bet for many families. We look at some of the best on sale right now.

Expert Ratings

We analyse and aggregate dozens of media reviews for each new car into an overall Expert Rating

Mercedes-Benz GLB

The Mercedes-Benz GLB has an Expert Rating that ranks it in the middle of the mid-sized SUV field, although its seven-seat option is a plus.

Audi A3

The Audi A3 range has been praised for its refinement and improved driving dynamics, but criticised for a clunky touchscreen interior.

Expert News

The latest news from all the major car brands and across the automotive industry

The Car Expert is moving on up

The Car Expert is pleased to announce the appointment of Lee Williams from Digital Warrior as Board Advisor.

Britain’s best-selling cars, August 2020

August is generally the calm before the September storm, but these ten models led the way in new car registrations.


  1. Hello Stuart, I have given a £200 deposit on a car from a well known dealership, the car is one year old and low mileage and I was told the vehicle has had one owner from new. I have since discovered the one owner was a rental company and I am no longer interested in the vehicle, have I lost my deposit as the dealership were not open and honest about telling me about who the previous owner was

  2. Hi Stuart, yesterday evening I put down 250 deposit and signed on an astra at a local dealership after coming home and doing a vehicle check online I’ve found it’s recently failed 2 MOTs (but then been passed on the same day) but the most recent MOT has 6 advisories including an oil leak and damage on the windowscreen in 2 places? Am I entitled to cancelling and getting my deposit back? We weren’t told about any of these problems?

    • Hi Kelly, You can’t cancel a purchase because of MOT advisories, but you can if the car has failed an MOT test.

      Failing an MOT test and then passing on the same day is not unusual – it just means that whatever caused the failure has been fixed. If a customer has booked a car into a garage for an MOT test and a service, the garage will often run the MOT test first so that they can see if there are any other problems that they will need to address while they’re servicing the car.

      You can certainly raise the issue of the MOT advisories with the selling dealer, but you can’t insist that they fix them to whatever condition you deem acceptable.

  3. Hi ,

    I went to a dealership and put down a deposit of £2000 for a car.
    The sales rep has given me a price of £13000 and I was under the impression that it is the final price.
    That was not the case as that was without interest.
    The total price after credit checks came down to £19000 which I immediately turned down. (no paper was signed)

    Can I get my deposit back?

    As a side mention I have e-mailed them and told them that they did not fully disclose the full price and the only way I would buy the car now would be with a 0% interest rate ( to which they have agreed)
    Should I go ahead with the 0% interest option if it turns out to be true.

    • Hi Bogdan. We can’t advise whether you should go ahead or decline any finance offer – all we can do is advise how finance agreements work and what to consider, and then you have to decide what is best for you and your situation.

      It is surprising that they have agreed to sacrifice £6,000 of interest if what you say is true, which suggests that there’s more to the story or that they have made an error and are desperate to keep the deal despite losing what would presumably be a fair chunk of money.

  4. Hi Stuart, I wonder if you can help. I did as everyone else has and put a £500 deposit on a (used) BMW on the basis the dealership group didn’t have the exact requirements I was wanting (ie leather seats). When I got home I did some digging and it turns out the group did have available option and also had similar vehicle (exactly the same) for almost £3000 less. I immediately called and told them that I wanted what I had originally asked for and also queried why they didn’t tell me about the other options. I gave them an opportunity to source what I wanted but after a couple days they couldn’t. The order agreement does not say the deposit was not refundable. Since they were unable to obtain what I needed, do I have any claim to my deposit back. Note, I found a vehicle matching my needs at another dealer and asked them to source it, which they couldn’t so I told them I would go with the other option and ordered it over the phone myself. I have also paid a deposit here and told the original dealer that I cannot accept what I didn’t suit my needs. They refuse to budge. Any help would be great, thanks

    • Hi Justin. You’re not in a strong position to get your deposit back from the first dealer. If they didn’t have what you wanted, you didn’t have to buy a car with the ‘wrong’ specification – you could have gone home and looked at alternatives before buying it.

      And the dealer will know that you are going to buy another car from another dealer, so they will know that you don’t have any of the usual financial hardship excuses to cancel your contract.

  5. Hi Stuart
    I put down some of the deposit for a new car but, I am unable to come up with the rest of the money. Will I get my deposit back if I cancel everything within the 14 days calling off period?

  6. Hi Stuart,
    I put a £250 deposit on a 2008 BMW 1 Series this afternoon @13.30pm. About an hour later it was reported that there is now a recall of around 300,000 BMWs including the model that I have placed a deposit on, talk about bad timing.
    What are your thoughts, I was adamant I wanted to pick the car up tomorrow. I would be less keen to cancel buying, only it seems that BMW may have been misleading the DVLA about a known fault (albeit according to the MSM).

    • Hi Richard. I’m currently away on holiday so haven’t been following the detail of the BMW recall (although Andrew has reported on it).

      It will take BMW dealers a while to work through all the cars that need to be recalled and repaired, so it will probably be difficult for this to be done before you collect the car. You’ll just have to book it in at your earliest convenience.

      If you want to cancel your purchase, the dealer will probably still insist on keeping your £250 deposit as the recall isn’t their fault and there is a rectification process in place wit the manufacturer.

  7. Hello. I put £5000 deposit on a car in Feb from Vauxhall. 2 months after CV Joint had to be changed. Car booked in again to be fixed another fault. Not happy with car. Spoke to manager I could exchange car but i lose £4000.

    • Depending on the age and mileage of the car (I’m guessing it’s not new if it needed a new CV joint after two months), you may be able to reject the vehicle under the Consumer Rights Act, but this other fault would have to be significant enough to render the entire car faulty.

    • I would NEVER expect any dealer to give me my money back if work had been carried out such as fitting of a hoist! As I said previously I want the car – I thought I made that very clear in the above posts.

    • So you want the car but you’re unhappy about the price? That should have been agreed and clear before paying a deposit.

      One of your previous posts said that you have paid more than £3,000 deposit to the dealer – once you hand over your deposit, you have bought the car. You can’t keep haggling after you’ve already bought it. I’m not sure what advice you’re looking for, since you don’t want to cancel your purchase and there’s no way that a dealer is going to discount the vehicle after you’ve already bought it.

  8. Hi Stuart, I have been looking at buying a Horsebox and found someone who does conversions. He sent me several pictures of what he had done although he did not send me any references from previous customers. He said his build slots were filling up and on that basis I paid a deposit of £1000 plus vat. At the moment the person doing the conversion has not yet purchased a vehicle that he is going to convert for us. He says that his quote for the vehicle converted is £21,600.00 + VAT = £25,920.00 and that he will not start the build until the end of June 2018. My understanding was that the deposit is refundable. We paid the deposit on 9 April 2018 although we have not received an invoice or receipt for the payment yet. We have not signed anything. The terms were:
    £1000 + VAT BUILD SLOT DEPOSIT = £1200

    S.C 20 – 43 – 47
    AC NO 6 3 6 7 5 9 2 0


    We paid via Barclaycard.

    Since paying the deposit we have been doing some investigating and have found that people have experienced several problems with the vehicle conversions he had done. On Sunday I met someone who had a horse-box conversion from him and the day he delivered it “a piston in the engine had gone and it was billowing smoke and oil” He took the vehicle back and said he had repaired it but when it came back and went into the garage they were told the engine was made up from two different engines ! They had to spend a few thousand pounds sorting it out. Needless to say that this has given us no confidence in what we will be getting and as such wish to cancel or build slot and have the deposit refunded. The terms say that the deposit is refundable and that if we are not happy with the vehicle when we go to collect it we are free to walk away and a refund of the build slot is returned.

    We have informed him that our circumstances have changed and we wish to cancel and have a refund of the build slot deposit (£1000.00 + VAT for which we still have not received a receipt). He says cannot have the deposit back at the moment but if we do not like the vehicle for any reason and are not satisfied then the build slot deposit will be returned then?

    Do you think he is obligated to return the build slot deposit now or shall we let him provide a vehicle and then tell him we are not accepting it and ask for the deposit back then. Your advice would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Hi Malcolm. If it’s your intention to cancel the order, you should do it ASAP. You may lose your deposit, but if you wait until the vehicle has been built and then try to cancel then you will be in for a much bigger fight – regardless of what he may say now.

      If you wait for the bloke to spend many thousands of pounds building you a vehicle and then you try to walk away, he is almost certainly going to take issue with you refusing to accept the vehicle. Either that or he’s a really, really stupid businessman, and that’s unlikely.

  9. But that was exactly what the problem was. I had agreed to buy the car and already paid my deposit thinking the balance left to pay included the price of the hoist.

    It was only when I got up to leave that I heard the salesman say that the price of the hoist had not been included. That was why I went back because if the price didn’t include the hoist the figures didn’t make any sense. The unacceptable attitude only occurred AFTER I had paid the deposit.

    Of course, I want the car. I just feel that I have been tricked into paying more for the car than what I had said I would pay. I had no way of knowing that he had not included the hoist in the sale. The manager used the argument that he knew nothing about the hoist. I wonder why he would have taken the VAT off if he was truly unaware of the hoist. None of it makes any sense to me.

    Thank you for your response. You see I had already been deceived because you have said that the £100 deposit that I paid committed me. I was told that in no way whatsoever did this commit me to buying the car or agreeing to a price for the car. So they deceived me right from the start. I shall make sure I get the whole deal sorted out in advance and in writing next time. I have never dealt with a situation where a car is brought up from another dealership. So I will know in future. I think in Scotland even verbal agreements are binding so they should not have mislead me the way they did.

    I have still not signed anything and to date they still have not provided me with any paperwork of the breakdown of what I am paying for. I should have demanded it all in writing right from the start. It seems a shoddy way for a reputable dealership to conduct a sale. At least I shall know next time round. Thank you for your speedy response.

    • A verbal agreement is difficult unless you have proof of what was agreed. The dealer could easily turn around and say that their recollection of any verbal agreement is entirely the opposite of what you are saying. Unless you have a genuinely independent witness to verify what was said (which is unlikely as any witness would likely be with you or working for the dealer, so they’re not going to be independent), all you can refer to is what’s on paper.

      If you have not signed anything, you may have some chance of seeing some or all of your money back if you kick up enough fuss with the dealer and Citroen UK about how you feel the sale was conducted. But if the dealer has already done any work in fitting the hoist or other vehicle preparation, they’re very unlikely to co-operate.

  10. I suppose what I should do is just forget the whole thing and let the patronising, arrogant Manager get his own way. If he is happy with what has happened I actually feel very sorry for him. I just want to ask him “When I said , oh I see what you have done – you have knocked off about £500 of the car and thrown in the servicing for free. I want to ask him why he allowed me to think that was what he had done if it was not.” To me that is deceitful. And as far as someone throwing things in my basket at a shop and them being free would be acceptable but sneaking them in then charging me for them is again extremely deceitful. Certainly no way to treat a vulnerable customer. I know it all happened because of them swapping salesman during the sales procedure but even so it is still very unfair to me as the customer.

    • That may all be true, but you are still responsible for signing a contract and paying a deposit. You didn’t have to do either of those things, and you made it clear that you were not happy with their conduct before you agreed to purchase the vehicle.

  11. I went to a dealership and looked at a Citroen Berlingo. The dealer told me he could get me this car in an Automatic version from another branch. I said I needed to do some research and think about it. I went home and the next day I telephoned to say I would like to test drive the automatic. I paid £100 for them to get the car up from another branch. I was told that this was refundable. I made it clear to the salesman that the part exchange and final price of the car still needed negotiating and that in no way was I agreeing to buy the car at the full advertised price.

    The car arrived and I went down to test drive it. The price of the car was shown as £16,998. I had not had the chance to negotiate the price I was willing to pay as I was waiting to know what they would pay for my 2009 Nissan Pixo N-Tech. I had discussed that I was having a hoist fitted and that the car would be exempt from VAT and that they would need to arrange the hoist fitting prior to delivery and include the hoist in the price. Then a different salesman took over – it was the manager and I assumed he was aware of how far we had got. I told him I wouldn’t be prepared to buy the car for any more than around £16,100. He went away and came back. The price on the computer looked to me as if the VAT had been removed and the hoist added. I said “Oh I see what you have done. You have reduced the car by around £500 and thrown in the servicing free of charge so I am happy with that because that brings the price down to what I wanted. I am happy with that.” I assumed that because everything worked out to what I expected the price to be including the £1050 for the wheelchair hoist that the cost of the hoist had been included but I didn’t say that because the sale had already been arranged to include the hoist with the salesman I had been dealing with. NOW AT THIS POINT if what I sad was not accurate he had a legal obligation to correct me. The reason I was saying it was to make sure I had understood what was happening. Now my original salesman returned and I said I was happy and I wanted to pay the deposit so that the hoist could be fitted prior to delivery. Just as I was leaving a heard the trainee salesman say something to my original salesman and I didn’t catch what had been said. The original salesman answered saying the price of the hoist hasn’t been added yet. I was already getting up to leave and as I left the showroom alarm bells were ringing. I sat in the car and worked everything out. I made my Carer take me back in. The manager who was the man who had taken over and confused the whole process was quite patronising to me. He asked me what the purpose of my visit today was. I said, “I came to test drive a car and, if I was happy with the car, to negotiate a price for that car and the part exchange value.” He said to me so you had already agreed to buy the car. I said, “No I had not agreed a price.” The manager had taken over the sale mid way. He did not need to be so patronising to me.

    At this stage I was writing everything down on paper as I also had during the sale. The manager was reading what I had written as he had been during the sale. He pointed out that I had worked out the VAT incorrectly. I had worked out the VAT reduction incorrectly as I am used to starting with a net price and having to ADD VAT not take VAT off products. I apologised for my mistake with the VAT calculation. It just so happened that the price of the hoist came to the same amount as my around £500 mistake with the VAT, the tax of £140, and the servicing of £300. I would have expected to NOT have items added to my bill unless those items had been discussed. It turned out he had added £25 for petrol, the servicing had been added and I had assumed this had been thrown in free as we had not discussed whether I wanted it or not.

    I still want the car. I am just not happy with the way this sale was conducted. I was tricked into paying full price for the vehicle because the sale was taken over by the manager mid way through the sale. What idiot pays the full price displayed on the windscreen of a car!! I am no idiot and so I DON’T. Or rather NEVER have up until now being tricked into it. What can I do? I have so far paid £3,100 in deposits. I don’t think things should have been added to my bill without discussion with me. I don’t even know how many services are covered. I could be dead (I have two terminal diagnoses) before the services are due and the car may not even belong to me by that time! I confirm I want the car. I just feel I have been tricked into paying the full price. The car had 10 miles on the clock and is a pre-registered vehicle – registered September 2017. So over 7 months of the guarantee is lost, over 7 months of the MOT exemption period is lost and also in effect the car is over 7 months old already – it is irrelevant to the value of the car that it has only done 10 miles. What do you suggest I do? I feel the manager was very rude and patronising to me. Maybe he thinks all women are stupid, or maybe he assumes I am because I am disabled. I don’t know. I think he would be pretty mad with his wife if she came home and told him that she had paid the FULL asking price for a car which is over 7 months old!

    • Hi Jadie. Ultimately, most of your issues centre around what you believe should have or have not happened. However, the only thing that matters is what the contract says. If you signed a contract and/or gave the dealer a deposit, you have agreed to whatever that contract says. Verbal discussions or your own personal notes are not relevant; the only thing that matters is a contract signed by both parties.

      You can demand that they remove the servicing from the contract, and you can even insist that they remove the £25 charge for petrol, and they’ll probably agree to it. But from the moment you gave the dealer £100 to bring the car in, you were effectively buying it at whatever the advertised price was.

      You may be right that the staff at the dealership were being deceitful, patronising and rude. But if that was the case, you should have simply left rather than agreeing to buy a car from them. Ultimately, you can complain to the dealer principal/general manager about their conduct. You can also contact Citroën UK’s head office in Coventry and complain about the dealership. That might get you some sort of compensation or support, but it won’t cancel the purchase.

  12. Hi There,

    I ordered a new Audi from main dealer PCP deal 4 yrs.
    car has been twice back with them due to alarm kicking off randomly. They cannot fix it and are trying to speak to Audi executive office, I have demanded rejection and 4K deposit back but dealer is still waiting to hear from Audi office..
    Can I get my deposit money back? This has happened with
    Twice in the first month and now again within 6 months..

    • Hi Jon. It’s probably not sufficient grounds to reject the car under the Consumer Rights Act, unless the alarm is disabling the car from being driven. It’s certainly inconvenient and annoying, but if the car still works properly then it would be difficult to argue that the whole car should be considered faulty. It sounds like a car with a fault, not a faulty car.

      Certainly, you should expect it to be fixed under your new car warranty. You may have to keep hassling the dealer and, if necessary, Audi UK’s head office in Milton Keynes to get it resolved. When dealers can’t immediately fix a problem, it tends to get pushed backwards in the queue until the owner loses patience and starts kicking off. Ultimately, if the dealer and Audi can’t fix the problem then you should be arguing for a replacement vehicle. However, this is likely to be a negotiation between you and the dealership, rather than rejecting the car under the Consumer Rights Act.

  13. Hi, we’re in a predicament. We ordered a used car and signed the agreement and paid a deposit. Next day we went and signed the finance agreement and we were told we had 14 days to change our mind. We were expecting delivery of the car on a certain date 7 days later. They couldn’t delivery it because the paperwork was in the post. Our car we were part exchanging in broke down that weekend and we didn’t have delivery date for the new car. In the end we bought another car because we were desperate and we thought we could cancel the used car as it was only 7 days since we ordered it. The finance company said..fine get the garage to unwind the agreement. After talking to the FSA it seems I have two agreements and might have to ‘buy the car anyway’? It was not explained to us on sale. I put down £500 deposit and paid a further £1500 and was going to p/e my car. Will I ‘have’ to buy the car? It’s so confusing and it’s £27 K !

    • Hi Alison. Your finance contract and the vehicle purchase are two separate agreements. Confusingly, you have a 14-day cooling-off period on the finance contract but you don’t get a cooling-off period on the vehicle purchase (since you can choose to pay for it any way you like).

      You have cancelled the finance agreement, but that doesn’t cancel the vehicle purchase. In theory, the dealer can insist that you proceed with the purchase and find the funds from elsewhere. You can’t really use the usual excuse of financial hardship, since you have now gone and bought another car elsewhere.

      In reality, it would be difficult for the dealer to insist that you proceed with the order and demand the full £27,000 from you. they’d have to try and take legal action against you, and the legal costs would probably wipe out any profit they’d make in the sale – and that’s assuming they won the case.

      However, they are unlikely to be interested in returning your £2,000 deposit without a fight. You may have to take legal advice of your own if you want to see any of that again.

  14. Hello I payed a deposit on a vehicle 2 months ago £500 signed by both parties . the vehicle needed some work and an MOT and a service and this work has still not been done 2 months on
    I now need to move on and get another vehicle am I entitled for my deposit to be returned thank you

    • Hi Frank. Two months seems a long time for “some work, an MOT and a service”, so there may well be a much more serious issue.

      Your vehicle contract should have a clause regarding delivery dates in the T&Cs. Usually the dealer has 28 days from the originally-advised date to deliver the car or else you can cancel and get your deposit back.

  15. Hi. Just looking for some advice.
    I went to view a car, paid a deposit of £240 and signed a form at a car dealers.

    I asked why their was a penny wheel on one of the wheels instead of a proper wheel. I was told it was due to a puncture. So the agreement was for the tyre and seat to be fixed as stated on the signed form. Then the car would be delivered in a weeks time.

    A day before car was to be delivered, the seller tells me the alloy of the punctured tyre is cracked so they have left it off. I told them I was not informed of any issues with the alloy, just a puncture. Otherwise I would not have purchased it as getting a single alloy is going to cost me extra money. The seller said he’d only just found out about the crack himself which is why I wasn’t informed until now. I asked for it to be fixed and they refused, I asked for money to be knocked off, they refused. So I told them I’d rather have my deposit back as I no longer want the car. I was told I signed a form that states the deposit is non-refundable so cant have it back. And seeing as I no longer want the car it will be re-advertised asap. Any chance of getting it back my deposit back? This conversation was via txt so I have proof of the seller saying he wasn’t aware of the cracked alloy which is why it wasn’t mentioned to me.

    • Hi Mandy. If the dealer has disclosed a fault with the car after your order but prior to delivery and refused to fix it, you should be able to cancel your order and get your money back.

  16. Hi Stuart,

    Hope you can help, I want to a car dealer, wanted a Nissan Note, the car was not available in the dealer shop. I was told to come along to machine shop (Which was just across the road), the car is been worked on and I asked the guy when the car will be ready (was told the following day and he will call me to pick it).

    I did put down a £500 deposit and read the contract no mentioned of deposit not to be returned.
    I called the same day to cancel and I also send the email but was told deposit will not be returned.
    The car was for my mum (her name was on the contract)

    What can I do?

  17. Hi thanks for your reply, I have another query if possible? I payed the deposit and my deposit receipt says that the car will be held for 7 days and that it can be collected on Friday 6th April so far I’ve head nothing from the dealer, if its not ready for collection on the a green date am I allowed to pull out of the deal and have my deposit refunded?

    • Your contract (vehicle order form) will specify your rights in this regard. Usually it states that the dealer has 28 days from the originally-stated date before you can cancel the deal.

  18. Hi there, I visited a used car dealership yesterday and payed a deposit of £150 on a car. The car was listed on gumtree for £1795 however we negotiated a deal that I would pay £1895 if the seller had the timing belt kit replaced. I’ve since seen that the seller had the car listed elsewhere for £1795 and in the description stated that that price of £1795 would include the timing belt change. I now want to pull out of the deal as I feel that I’ve been overcharged £100.would I loose my deposit?

  19. Hi there, we went to a dealership and told the rep that we had had a problem with debt. He asked if we had been paying all that had been agreed to since then and we confirmed that we had. He said there shouldnt be a problem getting the credit. We paid a £100 deposit for a car but creidt was declined. Are we able to get our money back?

    • Hi Pauline. Yes, you should be able to get your deposit back without any problems, unless the dealer wants to be a difficult so-and-so. They can’t realistically expect you to buy a car if you can’t get credit, so they should just refund your money and move onto their next customer.

  20. Hi, I have ordered new car in January and paid £1000 deposit with planned delivery date week commencing 12th of March. car has been delayed and date changed few times now with the latest being after 10th of April. Can I cancel the order now and get full deposit back?

    • Hi Izabela. Have a look at your vehicle order form and it should explain your rights if the delivery of the car is delayed beyond a certain period. Usually it’s 28 days – after that you are entitled to cancel the contract and get a full refund.

  21. Hi Stuart, Yesterday I went to see the car I wanted to buy. I have checked almost everything, but when I came back home and research I found that I did not check few very important things. Also during the check on DVLA I found that car recently has outstanding recall. I already have payed deposit of £300. Tomorrow I am going to check car again and hopefully buying it. I would like to ask if I will find something I would not like can I ask for my deposit back? I payed through internet banking

    • Hi Vika. You can certainly ask the dealer to arrange the recall work to be done before you collect the car, or you can book it in to be done yourself after you have taken delivery. Recalls happen, and as long as the work is done, there’s no reason for concern.

      If you have paid a deposit before checking all the things you wanted to check, that’s not the dealer’s fault. You would only have cause to ask for a refund if the car is not as advertised or faulty in a way that was not evident when you inspected it.

  22. I recently paid a deposit of £750 for a second hand car at a car dealer & signed an order form. The transaction was carried out at the car dealers office. When I returned to collect the car at a later date I inspected the car again and found that some fairly significant (but not obvious) damage to the roof had been missed during the initial visit because the car was wet and conditions were dull. The dealer even verbally agreed that the damage would not have been seen during the initial visit. The dealer offered to repair but my view was that if this damage had been noticed (or pointed out by them) during the initial visit I would not have paid a deposit and proceeded with the purchase. The dealer refused to refund the deposit. Where do I stand – is there protection from the consumer good act, ie car is not of satisfactory quality?

    • If you’ve looked at the car and failed to notice damage, you can’t really complain about it afterwards. If the dealer has offered to rectify it, I’d accept the offer.

  23. Hi Stuart, I paid £1000 holding deposit for a Mini Countryman, I never went to the Mini (Park Lane) Dealership, it was all done over the phone/email. I have electronically signed two documents: Demands & Needs, Finance Disclaimer and an Used Vehicle Order Form. I’m just wondering if I would be able to get the £1000 back or not, if not all but at least some of it. Thank you.

  24. Hi Stuart,
    I recently ordered a new car through and paid a deposit of £500. I have signed a customer order form with the dealer that was sent to me by email and filled in a TRACS form. Both were sent back by post. The car is due mid April. My financial circumstances have changed unexpectedly and I now need to cancel my order. Will my deposit be refunded?

    • Hi Sajid. If you paid the deposit of £500 to the broker, then probably not. If it was to the dealer, who is actually selling you the car, then yes you should be entitled to your deposit back.

  25. Hi, I have been to a VW main dealership and put a deposit on a car that has to be sent over from another garage. It’s been two weeks and I’ve now received a phone call to say they will have to get another car in stock as my one is no longer available. I paid £250 deposit to secure the car, are they allowed to sell it to someone else? If so, why did I need to put a deposit in the first place?

    • Hi Natalie. This happens all the time and is usually a case of two people in two locations buying the same car at the same time and it’s only a day or so later when the paperwork is being completed that they realise what’s happened. One customer has to get the phone call with the bad news, but I’m not sure why it has taken them two weeks to do so. Presumably, they have been trying to find another similar car to replace it.

      You are entitled to have your deposit back and walk away, or you can let them try to find you a suitable replacement. However, you are entitled to negotiate a better deal this time around rather than accepting whatever they offer. Your old contract is now void, so you are free to drive a harder bargain and use the leverage that they have been messing you around for more than a fortnight.

  26. Hi thanks nope this information just another question, if I had signed an order form and we agreed on a finance agreement but the finance company had changed this and I said I I wanted to cancel it what can happen to my deposit.

  27. I recently went to a Vauxhall garage to buy my son a Corsa which was advertised as a Used vehicle, there was a sticker on the windscreen stating it was awaiting appraisal of repairs, we asked for the keys and started the engine up and it sounded very rough, they assured me this was in need of a coil pack and would be fitted the interior was in immaculate condition and the outside had scuffs to the passenger door, which they assured me would be done also, I was trading my car in and purchasing a newer car for myself and this corsa as a first time car for my son, the other car was in the compound only just come in but was in a very dirty state with badly scratched alloys to both sides of the vehicle and a chunk missing out of the tyre, again they assured me this would all be done, I was unable to test drive any of the cars, I said I would have both vehicles and left a deposit of £100 on each, today we went to test drive the vehicles which is a week since I left a deposit, the sales person was not in who we dealt with, however the vehicles had not had done to them what was originally promised, the scratches to the corsa looks like it has been dabbed with paint of a different red and is blotchy and feels like sandpaper, and the new vehicle the alloys look worse than ever as it is now not in the compound and I can see the other side, I am probably stupid for buying a vehicle without test driving this but I have emailed them today asking for my deposit back and stating I no longer want the cars, I have rang the showroom and asked to speak to a manager but I have still not had any response, I never signed any paperwork and the deal was going to be cash on collection, where do I stand with this

    • Hi Janine. You don’t have any paperwork where the dealer has confirmed what level of repairs would be conducted, only a verbal promise from a salesman (which is worth nothing). The dealership may try to be difficult, particularly if they think they are going to lose two sales at the end of the month, but you should fight to get either your deposits back or for the cars to be prepared to an appropriate standard.

  28. Hi. Hoping you can offer some advice. I recently paid a £500 deposit for a car from an Audi dealership. I live in Scotland and the dealership is in England. The transaction was carried out over the phone last Friday. I agreed to pay for delivery costs to Scotland and an add-on treatment for the car. They sent me the video of the car today (which they were supposed to send me yesterday but I had to chase). 4 days in however and the dealer called me to say that today (Tuesday), after checking, the car has been ‘condemned.’ The costs of getting the car fit for sale, he advised, exceed £4000 at which point Audi condemns the car. Now for various reasons, I am extremely doubtful about this. The car has very low mileage, 1 owner and was ex-PCP. Effectively, Audi have agreed to sell me a car which they are now no longer prepared to sell me. I have put the wheels in motion to sell my own car. I will now need to let my buyer down. Just wondering how to proceed with this one. As well as being extremely disappointed, I would like to know if Audi have acted legally and ‘above board’ in selling a car that wasn’t (so they say) in a saleable condition. Have they the right to pull out of the sale?

    • Hi Katie. I suspect that the term “condemned” is simply how Audi and its dealers describe a car that is going to cost more than is feasible to meet Audi’s used car standards and be sold through an Audi dealership, so they will ship it off to auction and it will be bought by an independent garage, popping up on sale in a few weeks’ time somewhere else in the country.

      There could be any number of reasons for this – the car could have been damaged and require repairs, it may not have been serviced according to schedule or it may have some mechanical issues that they don’t want to have to fix in order to sell it. Of course, if it’s a diesel Audi that you were trying to buy, it’s entirely possible that it’s been properly broken by the Volkswagen/Audi/SEAT/Skoda “fix” applied to dieselgate cars. VW swears that the fix doesn’t cause any problems, but they’re lying.

      In short, yes they can pull out of the sale. The car would have been advertised as soon as the dealership got its hands on it, and it’s probably only sometime later that the car went into the workshop to have an inspection where they have discovered whatever problems there may be.

      Basically, you should be glad to get your deposit back. Either the car has problems, which may or may not ever be properly fixed, or the dealer is lying to you about what’s really going on and therefore you don’t want to be buying a car from them anyway.

  29. Hello . I looked at a car and as it was far away the dealership agreed for me to put down a 100 refundable deposit to hold the car. I had this in an e mail from them that it was refundable. I visited and test drove the car. After this my partner looked and found a number of vaults with the car and I wanted my deposit back. What are my rights? They agreed for it to be refundable and I have it in writing that it was meant to be.
    So frustrating. Sarah

  30. Hi
    Saw car in dealers but it was faulty and couldn’t drive it . They said they would fix seat problem. Test drove another car same model. Left £ 250 DEPOSIT on debit card . Asked and reassured cooling off period and deposit refundable and twice confirmed this is the case. This was a Saturday. Monday morning rang them advised changed my mind. Asked for refund. Haven’t said no just dragging feet. Took details of card again to return money . Weeks later no refund.The contract was never signed by them and has a fictious date of birth on it ? Am I like to have a right to get deposit back . Thanks Lisa

    • Hi Elizabeth. You will just have to keep nagging them, daily, to repay your deposit. Unfortunately, the default position for a lot of dealerships seems to be to ignore you for as long as possible in the hope that you will give up and go away.

  31. Hi Stuart,

    Two weeks ago i put £200 deposit on a car i saw online to bring it to branch near me. After a week and sending the e-mail i get a call from salesman that he said that the car was sold in different branch and that i will get a refund soon, so i put deposit on other car in same company, with exactly the same situation and again after few days they give me a call and said that this car has been sold as well. Now, last week i ordered another car and transfer previous deposit, after waiting a week i saw that the car is no longer available on a website when i e-mailed them, i get an information that car probably has been sold and that i will get more information when the car should be in branch near me. On a terms of paying that deposit, it was said that the car will be ‘reserved’. If i paid that deposit and car should be reserved, can dealer still show this car to other and sell it?
    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Anna. If it is a large dealer group with multiple sites, then this happens quite a lot – although you’ve been unlucky to have it happen three times now. There may be thousands of people looking at the dealer’s stock on any day, so inevitably there will be situations where two (or more) people will sign a contract or place a deposit on the same car at the same time.

      Dealers will always prefer to sell cars in stock on site rather than moving them around, as it’s cheaper. If a dealer has two customers who have both reserved the same car and one of them is local while the other is hundreds of miles away, the local buyer will usually win.

      However, once a specific site has been notified that another branch has taken a deposit on one of their vehicles, they should not be able to continue offering that car to other buyers. It’s difficult to keep on top of, especially at weekends when the sales departments are busiest and there are usually no admin staff to record which vehicles have been sold.

  32. Hi Stuart,

    I put down a £500 deposit on a car! We agreed a price and i singed the paperwork for what i was going to pay. A couple of days later I received a call from the finance company saying that monthly fee’s have gone up around 30%. I could not afford this so i emailed the company numerous times saying i cannot afford the extra money per month. Can i get my deposit back as the monthly fees are not what i signed for?

  33. hello Stuart,

    I went to visit a second hand dealer on saturday and paid £300.00 deposit, did not get to test drive the car because it did not have a valid mot. Which they stated on their site it was with mot. On monday after I checked some photos taken i realise i do not wish to proceed with the sale. Am I entitled to my deposit back.

    • Hi Melissa. It’s quite common for dealers to not get the MOT inspection done until the car has been sold, then get it done in the days before you actually take delivery of the car. It’s not usually anything problematic, simply good business practice. If, for whatever reason, the car doesn’t sell, it will go off to a dealer auction and another dealer will buy it, so the first dealer will have paid for an MOT for nothing.

      From a customer’s point of view, it means that the MOT will last a full 12 months. If the dealer had the MOT done when they first put the car on sale, but then it sat there for three months before you came along and bought it, you’d only get nine months.

      As for whether you’re entitled to your deposit back, that would depend on what grounds you don’t wish to proceed.

  34. Thank you Stuart for your reply, its very appreciated. Yes he has a list of “alleged” vehicles still for sale on two car selling sites. He screens all calls and calls back without answering the phone direct. We now have a surname and two possible business names but I cannot find anything about these business anywhere, I expect they are alias’s. My hubby called and left a message for him to call back but he hasn’t done so and he still has not refunded our money.
    I was going to go to the bank but everything I read points out that because my hubby authorised the transfer we are not covered, even though as you say it now has become a “theft” issue as is my understanding aswell. I would like to send him an email with some legal terms, as well as the theft comment. Could you tell me what the correct “Act” is legally if this applies to us please? I’m also thinking auction fraud is a good place to report him as well. But we don’t want to run the risk of him going undercover. thanks again for your reply… Michelle :)

  35. i cant believe how often this happens reading through the posts but we have just been ripped off by a dealer and wonder if u can lead me in the right direction of our legal rights and the terminology needed to write to him. we agreed to purchase a vehicle online paid £500 deposit. agreed we would collect vehicle today. received text sat night from dealer to say this car has now been sold. refused to answer our calls yesterday. today we got a hold of him and he is refusing to refund our deposit. surely this is theft. Did we not enter a verbal contract when we paid him the deposit. do we have any redress through the bank as it was a bank transfer? hubby has already lost a lot of time and money on this and just says to leave it. but if this guy has done this to us hes done it to others and I want to take it further. Im so furuous right now! can i report his business to action fraud? I also wish to write to the online page he is selling his vehicles on. We only have a first name and his online selling name plus email address.

    • Hi Michelle. If the dealer has taken your deposit for the purchase of the vehicle and then cannot proceed to sell you the vehicle (for whatever reasons they may have), then they need to give you your deposit back.

      He sounds like a devious character, so I’d be reporting him to the police as it sounds like blatant theft. If he is a dealer and advertising his vehicles on a vehicle search site, I’d be writing to them as well.

  36. Hi Stuart, my apologies if this question has been asked before but I would like to ask for your advice on an approved used car that I have paid a deposit of £1000 on.

    I am very happy to continue with the purchase of the car but my funds to complete it will not be available at the end of the month as agreed with the dealership but rather 2 weeks into the following month.

    I understand why they were eager to complete the sale by the end of the month for their targets but can they now keep my deposit and sale the car to someone else? Or do I have the right to ask them to wait 2 weeks for the funds to clear?

    Many Thanks,


    • Hi Mark. If the dealer wants to break the contract and sell the car to someone else, they will be obliged to give you your deposit back. However, it’s much more likely that they will have a bit of a sulk that they won’t get the extra number on the board this month and roll it over into next month instead. These things happen all the time.

  37. Hi Stuart,
    Being a foreigner I am not that much familiar with the rules of buying a car in the UK – so I visited a dealership during the weekend and spotted a car that i liked. I gave a ‘holding deposit’ of £500 on it which the sales person told me was fully refundable – it was given to hold the car until Monday.
    I was there with my spouse and we both think we were led to believe that the deposit is fully refundable.
    Now after reading your article I am really upset as it seems that the deposit may not be refundable at all…. i feel that i was pushed into something that i was not fully aware of and agreed to purchase the car without realizing it.
    Please can you let me know what my options are here?

    • Hi Margot. Have you actually tried to claim the refund and now been told that it’s not refundable? From the sound of it, you are worrying before you’ve actually asked for a refund. You may find that they do refund your money without question.

  38. Hi Stuart,
    Can you clarify if the right to your deposit back from a dealer (when the sale is conducted over the phone/internet), is only available if you cancel the purchase within 14 days of paying the deposit. Does the right to recover your deposit lapse if more than 14 days (from payment of deposit) have passed under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013?

    • Hi Noreen. My understanding is that, yes, you have 14 days to cancel your purchase and get your deposit back, but it’s worth checking with as they will be able to give you a better explanation of the law.

      Obviously there needs to be a time limit, otherwise the dealer is left holding stock for an indefinite period that they have paid for but can’t sell to get their money back.

  39. Hi I seen a car on line Auto trader i am from Germany the person on the ph said put a holding dep and when you get in at the airport i pick you up at 9.45pm you can test drive it to the yard and if you like it we can do the payer work.
    But then i gave them my flight info paid for the ticket then they sent me a email they can not pick me up go and get a hotel and come to your yard the next day. I was a little upset so i said i want my money back all they said sent the managerment a email thats it so have i got the rights for my refund as i called then from Germany never seen the car thanks Gary

    • Hi Gary. Yes, since the business was conducted over the phone rather than in person at the dealership, you have the right to your deposit back. That doesn’t mean that the dealership will play along happily, however, so you may have to fight them to get it. Being located overseas obviously makes that more difficult, unfortunately.

  40. Hi Stuart,

    Thanks for the article. I was wondering if you could help on our case.

    we saw a car online, liked it and went to the dealer for viewing on Sunday. The car was on preparation in a different site so could not view the car. We deposited a sum of 250£ at the dealer office and reserved it. Salesman told us he will get the car within 2 days but wasn’t. My wife was expecting in a week so we panicked. No sign of the car until Thursday. On Friday they called me saying the car was available in their site. The visit was scheduled Sat morning. But Friday evening, we had a viewing with a different dealer, we liked the car and bought it. As the car was bought, we did not visit the previous dealer next morning and told them over phone that we have bought a car and would like to get our refund back. Salesman told us that manager will give us a call. After a week, the manager told us that we will not get the refund because the car was available for us to view and buy but since we did not view the car and rejected it, we are not getting the refund.
    Could you please advise us on this matter ?
    Kind Regards

    • Hi Navin. If you went to a dealership and gave them money to buy a car, then they are probably entitled to keep your deposit. If you then chose to go elsewhere and buy another car, that’s your problem.

      You can try arguing that they failed to have the car available when they said they would, and you will probably get the money back eventually if you keep persisting. But they are probably not obliged to give it back.

  41. Hi Stuart

    I visited a dealership and discussed pcp deals. There and then, i decided they they were too expensive and to not purchase.

    Several days later a different salesman called me and offered me a contract hire deal. After a few telephone calls discussing the deal i agreed to proceed and put down a deposit.

    I decided after about 6 days that contract hire was
    not the right deal for me, and advised the dealership that i do not wish to proceed and want my deposit back. I did quote the relevent legislation relating to distance selling.

    Am i entitled to my deposit back? Contract hire was never discussed when i was on site at my intial visit to the dealership and the entirety of that deal took place over the phone. I never even met that salesman face to face who offered the contract hire deal.

    Best wishes, Terry

    • Hi Terry. Yes, you should be able to cancel the contract within 14 days and get your deposit back under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

  42. Hi Stuart, my apologies if this question has been asked in the above comments but I’d like your view on a situation I am now in with a car I was looking to purchase. I had planned to finance a car through a dealership due to their low APR rate. They have helped me pick a car of my choice and had planned to purchase on my behalf from another separate dealership. To reserve the car I paid a £500 deposit and after receiving the finance documents/terms and conditions I became aware that my financial situation over the term of the contract may change and as a result I chose to cancel the sale of the car (not signing anything) and have asked the sales team for my deposit to be returned. All communications have been carried out over the phone by myself and the company I have been looking to finance through. Am I entitled to my deposit back? It has been a week since I paid the deposit.

  43. Hi, on Nov 8th I paid a £100 deposit on a second-hand car on the basis that the seller puts a brand new MOT on the vehicle, on the 9th of Nov the seller contacted me to say the car
    had failed the MOT and as it would cost too much to repair the vehicle they would refund my deposit, I have contacted the seller 6 times over the past month for my deposit only
    to be given excuse after excuse, one time they asked for my sort code and bank account so that they could do a bank transfer, as of today I have still not received the refund, I
    contacted the seller today only to be given more excuses and told if I didn’t like it to go to trading standards?

    • Hi Richard. There is no real problem with the first part of your story – the car failed an MOT and the dealer decided it was too expensive to fix so offered to refund your money. It happens, especially on lower-priced used cars.

      The second part of the story, however, suggests that the dealership is a fairly dodgy operation. They are clearly hoping that you will give up and go away rather than keep fighting for your £100 back. The only solution is to keep hassling them, two or three times a day if necessary. You can complain to Trading Standards, but it is unlikely to help you get your money back.

  44. Hi Stuart,

    We purchased a new Mazda 2 from a dealership and have paid a 500 pound deposit. We took advantage of a scrappage deal on our old car which was at the garage in repair. We contacted the repair garage to say we just wanted them to make the car start and not do any other repairs but it had already been sent elsewhere that day and we have had to pay a 400 pound repair bill. We have not changed our mind about the Mazda purchase (the actual vehicle is not yet in the dealership but will be in a few days) but we would rather not take possession of it and start the finance deal until we have done a planned 600 mile journey to Europe and back in the old car so that at least we are getting something for our money before it is scrapped! Are we legally obliged to pick up the car as soon as it arrives or can we ask them to keep it for us for a few weeks?


    • Hi Nicola. I understand that you are annoyed about the £400 repair bill, but if you car is going to be scrapped anyway, you may as well take delivery of your new car and enjoy what is presumably a more comfortable and safer experience on your trip to Europe.

      The dealer will be highly motivated for you to take your new car as soon as possible – they tend not to take kindly to customers wanting to wait “for a few weeks” before taking delivery. Legally, there will an obligation set out in your sales contract as to how long you have to take delivery of the vehicle.

  45. Hi, I wonder if you could help? We recently viewed a horsebox advertised by a private seller. We liked the box and verbally agreed that we wanted to purchase it and agreed a price. We then left. During the evening I received a message to say that someone else viewed the box after us and also wAnted to purchase it. The owner asked if we could pay a deposit to hold the box. We agreed and paid £500 and said we would hopefully pick up the box the following weekend and pay the full amount. She said this would be fine. We decided to have a pre purchase inspection done on the box – due to access and light restrictions this could only be done at the weekend. This potentially may have delayed the sale by 24hrs. The owner pulled the box off the market saying that we had agreed Saturday for picking the box up and she would incur costs if it wasn’t. Due to these costs she has refused to refund our deposit. My argument is that the deposit was a holding deposit only – there was no specific reference to a purchase date at this point and she actually broke the contract. Is this correct and am I entitled to a refund?

    • Hi Sue. If it’s a private seller, you have zero rights and it’s all a matter of argument.
      I’m not sure how the seller can have incurred £500 of costs from holding onto the box for an extra couple of days, but that’s fairly irrelevant. From what you said, you had a verbal agreement with a private seller, so you have no rights or comeback. Even if you had a written agreement, it’s hardly legally-binding and you’d spend more than that trying to chase them via the legal system to get it back.
      To be fair, you appear to have thrown in the pre-purchase inspection condition after the sale was agreed, so you have changed the agreement not her. Maybe she doesn’t want the box inspected because she knows there’s something wrong with it?
      You can argue, threaten, beg, reason or do whatever you like to convince her to return your money, but you don’t appear to have any right to have it back.

  46. Hi Stuart,
    I’ve put a deposit on a used car when Indaw it at a dealership. The car was advertised as free of damage. When I came back to make the payment and to collect the car I saw body repairs which have not been done well. I have decided to not buy it as I have not seen these repairs during my first visit. Can I still get my deposit back?
    Many thanks for your comment.

  47. Hi Stuart i am about to order a new car got finance approved. Dealer wants a holding deposit for the car. I assume this will be refunded once i collect the car ?

    • Hi Calum. That depends on how your payment for the vehicle is structured if you are financing through the dealership. It is rare for 100% of the purchase price to be financed, so you will need to look at what you have been quoted under “customer deposit” on your finance quote. This is the amount you will be expected to pay up front, including any holding deposit.

  48. Hi Stuart, I paid deposit for car but later i discovered the seats were not comfortable. I advise the salesman and he sold the car to someone else, and now he is refusing to refund my deposit. Please advise

  49. Hi Stuart. I test drove a used car and paid £5000 deposit for a car that costs £46,500. the dealer was going to look for finance on behalf of me and I signed pre order form based on 6.3% APR . Now the dealer can’t get me that rate and offered 8.11% APR. I refused and asked for the deposit to be paid back but the dealer refuses to pay back my deposit. Can they do that?

    • Hi Clirim. There’s no legal basis for a “pre-order form”, so you’ve either signed a contract (order form) or a meaningless piece of paper. If you’ve signed an order form for the vehicle, it’s not connected to the finance so you’ve still bought the car.

      A dealer can quote you any number they like for finance, but it’s ultimately up to the finance company to make you a formal offer of finance. Ultimately, you’re going to have to fight hard to get your money back, and because it’s a significant sum of money, the dealer will do whatever they can to avoid repaying it.

  50. I have been in touch with Trading Standards, since he cancelled the sale and is refusing to refund me now. He however did call on Monday and offer me an additional £200 off the car, I guess the people who wanted it no longer want it. Any suggestions on how I can get my money back?

  51. Hi, I put down a deposit of £300 for a car and then was told I needed a payslip. I’m a director of a new company and had no need for payslips or PAYE yet. The dealer insisted I take the car on credit since he has low margins and his commission on the finance is his profit. Cut a long story short, I contacted my accountant to get this sorted for him and I told him I will sort it out today Wednesday which is 7 days later and the first day back from holiday for my accountant.

    Where do I stand, I’ve obviously tasked my accountant and will be charged by him, and want the car.

    My question I guess is can the dealer cancel my order. And secondly I believe i’m entitled to a refund.

    • Hi Mohammed. A dealer is absolutely not allowed to tell you how you must pay for your vehicle. If you are buying the car, it’s up to you how to pay for it. There may be additional incentives to take a finance package (like a deposit contribution), but a dealer can’t tell you that you have to take the car on their finance package or not take it at all.

      If he continues to insist, I’d be calling Trading Standards.

  52. Hi Stuart,
    I put a deposit down on a car with a local dealer that they were reserving from another branch. 2 days later I was called to say that the car had been sold at the other branch. I was informed that they could get the same spec car from a further dealer but it would be another three weeks until it arrived. As the delivery date arrived I called the dealer who informed me the car was not ready, it was in Germany! After further questioning it turns out that the second car had also fallen through and rather than tell me the dealer had ordered a car of the same spec from the manufacturer and it is currently still being built with no delivery date. I want to cancel as I have no trust in the dealer and wondered if I am legally entitled to my £1000 deposit back.

    • Hi Vanessa. If the contract was for a specific vehicle (the VIN is listed in the agreement), then the contract will be void if the dealer cannot deliver the vehicle. If the contract was not for a specific car, but for a specific specification, then that’s a different story. It will depend on whether a delivery date was specified – if they have missed that target then the contract will be void.

  53. Hi Stuart
    I paid for a £100 deposit to balance £400 on collection day,at a Toyota dealership in my town,signed order and finance form (0% finance) on saturday,by tuesday night -am convinced that I might have rushed and may not be able to afford monthly repayment. I contacted the salesman on his mobile,and he says the car has already been ordered and would be delivered in a few days. what are my options please as I do not wish to go on with the purchase just now. thanks

    • Hi Celestinne. If you cancel your order, the dealer will want to keep your deposit but there is not a lot they can practically do to force you to proceed. They can bully you or threaten legal action, but they are unlikely to proceed to court action as it’s not usually worth the expense.

  54. Hi I placed a deposit on a van subject to an AA inspection. The deposit was placed late Friday. The AA inspected the vehicle on the Monday. Mechanically the vehicle is fine However it’s 2014 vehicle which has not been taxed since February this year As there is a 7 month gap until now I a concerned where the vehicle has been / has it been in a crash etc. the vehicle was bought subject to me being happy with the AA report. I am not happy with the gap in dates and asked for a refund. The dealer has refused. Can he do this ?
    Many thx

    • Hi David. If the agreement was subject to an AA inspection, and the vehicle has satisfactorily passed that inspection, then your contract is valid and the dealer is right to expect you to proceed. You don’t need an AA inspection to discover that there was a seven-month gap in the road tax. There may be a reason that has nothing to do with any vehicle damage (maybe the previous owner lost his job/business, or was ill and unable to drive, or any other reason), but even if the vehicle had been involved in an accident and repaired, that’s not a valid reason to cancel the contract unless the dealer has lied about the vehicle history in response to your direct questions.

  55. i recently put a deposit on a car that needed work doing to my specification – however the garage 3 weeks later is now asking me to pay the remainder of the sum agreed before agreed work is carried out and will not budge – i have told the garage i am happy to pay 50% and then the remaining 50% on pick up of vehicle but they will not budge – where do i stand as i dont want to pay in full just in case the work carried out is not 100% satisfactory – we are at a standstill – am i entitled to my deposit back under these circumstances?

    • Hi Stephen. If your contract says that the dealer will do the work as part of the sale, then the payment terms would be the same as for any car sales contract – you pay a deposit upfront and the rest on (or just prior to) delivery.

      If the agreed work is not properly detailed in the contract, then it’s simply a matter of negotation.

  56. Thanks for the reply Stuart.

    Sorry, I wasnt very clear, but so far I haven’t signed any order forms or anything other than the test drive waiver. So far I’ve paid a £1000 deposit and they’ve sent me an order form to sign (which of course I haven’t as yet)

    • If you’ve given them a deposit, you’ve basically committed to buying their car. They may refund you the money eventually, but you’ll probably have to work for it.

  57. Hi Stuart,
    Great article, thanks for writing it.

    I wanted to check my assumptions on the following. I visited a VW dealership 10 days ago and took a model for a test drive. I then agreed terms with the sales guy on a different model (saloon rather than hatchback), and said I needed to get it approved by the wife – would be madness for me if she wasn’t consulted.

    So after getting the wife on board I rang up the garage to say it was all good, so he asked if he could take £1k payment to enable the order to be placed. I paid via debit card.

    Now, since then I’ve used a site like carwow, and have found the same model for 4K cheaper (I clearly didn’t negotiate very well). So you think I should cancel the order and attempt to get my deposit back, or should I try and re negotiate a price close to the one I found on line?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Stephen. The dealership is under no obligation to renegotiate the contract you have signed. If you choose to go with a quote from Carwow, they are entitled to keep your deposit. They may be interested in dropping their price to keep the sale, or they could throw a lawyer at you, since you clearly intend to purchase a car from elsewhere when you have a valid, legally-binding contract.

  58. is my deposit transferable? i put down the £200 on a car i was considering buying, it says subject to viewing and test drive on the green form from the garage with my receipt. i have decided to go down the motability route. is my deposit transferable from the used car to the motability car?

  59. Hello, my husband is disabled physically, I have Aspergers (more about that later). we went to the Fiat dealer to view a particular car, but they didn’t have one there but charged us a refundable deposit of £200 and got us to sign a form to bring a used Fiat Qubo from another garage for us to test drive. We were clear to them at the time that we were considering a purchase or the Motability option. After the test drive, we did our maths and found the Motability was the best option. When I informed them, they said we couldn’t have our deposit back or count it towards the Motability upfront payment. Can they do this? I have since found Aspergers is not a gift but a vulnerability and the whole deal has left me seriously ill. We still need the Qubo so I have no choice to visit the same garage to get the Motability car.

    • Hi Debbie. In terms of liability for your deposit, it probably depends on the contract you signed. If there is nothing to suggest that the deposit was refundable if you didn’t like the car that they brought over, you probably can’t get it back.
      If you are purchasing a car via Motability through the same dealer, I would have thought that the dealer would allow you to transfer your deposit to that vehicle. If they don’t, I’d suggest contacting Fiat UK’s head office and making a complaint.

  60. Hi Stuart

    I have paid £300 deposit for my PCP agreement, I have signed all the documents etc. but the car was in different branch, around 40 miles away. They have told me that it will take them around 2/3 days to deliver and than I would complete the purchase. Unfortunately after a week and little communication from their side I called and ask about the car which still was not assigned to be transferred. I have told them that I want to cancel my order. Moreover I have asked to get my money back and they said it will not be a problem. It was almost two months ago and I still didn’t get my money back. Am i entitled to get my money back?
    Oh, and I got the call next day and they have told me that the car is ready for collection. Again I told them that I dont want it and I just want my money back.

    • Hi Mike. Legally, they probably don’t have to refund your money. The T&Cs on your vehicle contract probably makes reference to you being able to cancel if the dealer cannot deliver within 28 days of the indicated delivery date, so a week’s delay isn’t enough to trigger that.
      If you complain to the sales manager or dealer principal, you may eventually get a refund and an apology. But you probably can’t demand it from a legal point of view.

  61. Hi Stuart,

    We left a £250 deposit on a used car and was told that the dealer would touch in the scratches and stone chips. When we went to collect the car on the agreed date, the work was of a poor standard. The sales person admitted it looked worse than before and advised they would rectify it. Unfortunately I have lost faith in the dealership and no longer want the vehicle. I asked for our deposit back but they’ve refused. Am I likely to get the full refund back if they have breached the contract by not having the car ready on the agreed date?

    • Hi Olivia. It would depend on the dealership agreeing that they have breached the contract, and it’s a difficult argument for you to win. The contract presumably does not specify the standard of repair required, so the dealer can argue that the contract has not been breached.

  62. Hi Stuart, I paid a 2k deposit on a car at an Audi dealership in person today without seriously considering my financial situation, in other words I’ve bought it on a whim and now I’m having doubts about actually going through with the purchase. I only signed a credit check agreement form and all I was given was a cash receipt form. I haven’t signed any HP agreements or anything. Am I likely to get the deposit refunded if I tell them my financial status isn’t as healthy as I thought it was?

    • Hi Rob. If your finance application is rejected then you should get your deposit back without any hassle. If the application is accepted but you choose to cancel, you’ll probably lose your deposit.

  63. Help please, I’ve put a deposit down on a car at a well known dealers but unable to go through with sale as have been poorly and have to wait for a reply from dvla to clarify whether I can drive or not. Have I lost deposit?

  64. Hi Stuart, on Sunday I saw an advert for a car, phoned the dealer and gave a £250 reservation payment on my credit card to “hold” the car till I could travel to see it. The dealer said that in the mean time he would get the car mot’d and ready to go should I want to drive it away. On checking the ad and other information and consequently recontacting the dealer I have found that although described as having a sat nav, it doesn’t, that it’s failed it’s mot and that there’s outstanding finance on the vehicle taken out a couple of days before it went on sale plus I’ve not been able to contact the dealer since. Not surprisingly, I don’t have a good feeling about this, could I get my money back, thanks Simon

    • Hi Simon. If the car is not as advertised (satnav), then it’s pretty simple and you should be able to get your money back without hassle. Doesn’t mean that the dealer will play along happily, though…

      The MOT failure isn’t a reason to cancel the purchase if the failures are repaired before delivery. A car can fail its MOT for very minor reasons, so you should ask to see the MOT failure report and judge for yourself that the fix is acceptable. For example, if the car failed its MOT because of a worn tyre, you should insist that the dealer fits a new tyre that matches the other three rather than fitting a used tyre that doesn’t match. It’s still legal, but you should expect better.

      The finance issue is almost certainly dealer finance. Very few car dealers own their stock outright as they don’t have the cash, so all of their cars are under finance from specialist providers. This is perfectly normal, but you should still double-check that and ensure that the vehicle data is updated ASAP to show that the finance company no longer has any interest in the vehicle.

  65. Hi Stuart. Hope you can help. I.paid a £300 deposit for a car the other day a local small car sales, they said that they would put the car through a new MOT, it was advertised as having one. Today the salesman called me to say that it failed due to needing too much work. I asked about a refund and was told to call to the garage as they couldn’t do it over the phone. Went after work to be told that the person who deals with the refunds has left and then they tried to sell me a new car. I said I wasn’t interested and wanted the refund to be told to call in tomorrow. Do I have grounds for a refund please?

    • Hi Michael. Yes, absolutely. If the dealer cannot complete the contract, you are entitled to your deposit back. If you are clear (without being rude), they shouldn’t fight you too hard on this as they are the ones in breach of the contract.

  66. Hi stuart

    I called about a car I had seen
    The advert read as though it had everything I wanted
    I called and asked some questions
    Negotiated a price and the dealer said i could come up and collect would have to pay deposit
    I paid deposit over phone using my husbands card as mine had expired and new one not come through
    I hadn’t seen car
    I then reread ad called back as wasn’t convinced about Bluetooth
    There was a photo that made it look like was Bluetooth but it wasn’t mentioned in description
    I was told yes he was sure it had it and would double check
    This was 10 mins after my initial call
    I said it had to have it or I didn’t want car

    They said would call back

    He called back 30 mins later said no it doesn’t
    I said wanted to cancel it then
    He said no can’t have deposit back
    I said about distance selling and he said no
    He had marked it as sold – it was literally 10 mins

    After much calling I spoke to director that evening who offered £220 (deposit was £440) this was if I didn’t go to trading standards
    I said no

    I have asked bank to stop payment they won’t

    I called consumer helpline and they told me to write to them
    I have sent letter advising I want a refund under distance selling cancellation
    But they haven’t replied

    • Hi Marie. Yes, you are entitled to your deposit back in full. For more information, read our article about buying a car then changing your mind.

      Unfortunately, the dealer in this case seems to think that he doesn’t have to co-operate. I suggest visiting the excellent forum at, as a legal expert there may be able to give you some advice. Failing that, you may need to get paid legal assistance to bring any action against the dealer – and he’s probably counting that you won’t bother.

  67. Good morning. I was wondering if you can help me with my problem I found advert on AutoTrader and I have rang to car dealer to ask if the car is still available. I been told that if I want to reserve a car I need to pay 500 pounds deposit which I did on the same day. After a week a have went to car dealer to see the car. I noticed that there are few issues with car like scratches on alloy and a few scratches all over the car and seat cover was peeling off. I been told by the sales mam that the car is manufactured approved and they will change alloy,fix all paintwork and prepere a car for me to be in excellent condition. This car is almost brand new 2016 plate. After that I paid a additional 2500 deposit for the car as I wanted to choose hp finance with initial payment of 3000 pounds. I been told that they will prepare the car they will do all works and they will deliverto my home. Two days later I received a finance documents by email which I signed and I send them back via email. When they come to deliver the car I noticed that car have even more scratches and dents and I refused the delivery-car went back to a dealer. They rang me to apologise and promised to fix everything and deliver the car within the next few days. Car is with the dealer now. Can I cancel my hire purchase contract and get deposit back? Please help

    • Hi Carol. Yes, you can cancel your finance agreement within 14 days, but this does not cancel the vehicle purchase – it simply means you have to find another way to fund the car. If the dealer agrees to you rejecting the vehicle, that won’t be a problem, but it is unlikely to happen for light cosmetic damage that should be easily repairable.

  68. Hi Stuart

    I looked at a car on Auto trader and I really wanted to buy the car. I called the dealer I was willing to pay £100 as a deposit but the salesman insisted that £100 did not show my intent to buy the car and £500 would reserve it. So I unwillingly paid £500 and asked him to hold it for 1 day. and I would come the next day and if I like the car I would buy it. The entire transaction took place over the phone.

    When I went there the next day, I did not like the car as it looked very aged, not as the pics showed it. I refused to buy the car. The dealer said he was not happy and I had declined other the opportunity to buy this car. I only held that car for 1 day. He said he would not refund my deposit.

    I have then emailed him to request my deposit back.
    And he has emailed the following response
    Mr Soni

    Thank you for your recent email the contents of which I note.

    My view of this position is that we entered into contract with you in relation to the BMW X5 when you willing placed a £500 deposit on the BMW X5 over the telephone.

    It is worthy of note that we declined, on no less than two occasions, to take your deposit, explaining that you should view the car in the first instance before making a commitment to buy. However, you didn’t listen to my suggestion and you we particularly insistent on placing a deposit, and therefore entering into a verbal agreement/contact with Oakwoods Group Limited in relation to the purchase of the black BMW X5 at a ‘three day sale event price’ which main stipulation was collection and payment of the goods by 17.00 hrs Saturday 24th June 2017. The only stipulation you set was that the car was to ‘drive well’, and you were accepting of age related wear and tear. A contract was entered into by both parties and agreed with those terms.

    As a result of your actions XX Limited were legally bound by the terms of that verbal contract and advised other interested parties that the X5 had been sold and we removed the X5 from our website and other third party advertising sites. The car was made ready for your collection on the aforementioned Saturday.

    Your reason for wanting to break the contract to purchase were nothing to do with they way the vehicle drove and were all condition related issue which you were happy to accept when placing your initial deposit on the BMW X5.

    XX Limited verbally agreed to release you from your contractual obligations in relation to the outright purchase of the BMW X5 but didn’t agree to return you initial deposit.

    Having had time to consider the position in relation to your deposit I have decided to retain that £500 deposit but you appeared to be more than happy to purchase a car from us in the future, so with that firmly in the forefront of my mind, I will be happy to apply your £500 deposit to any vehicle you purchase from XX.


    PLease advise if this is even valid

    And what option do I have.

    • Hi Sunny. Your deposit is refundable as it was taken over the phone. He cannot withhold it or make you buy a different car. He may well have lost two other customers, but that’s the way the law works.

  69. Hi Stuart, It has been fascinating reading your article and the comments. I put down a £1,000 deposit on a car in early March. I had test-driven the car and visited the dealership twice, but the contracts and the majority of discussions were done via email. At the time I was told by the salesman that delivery would be expected to be in June, which was fine as we had a driving holiday booked in early July and we would need the new car by then. Upon the order being placed, I was then informed that delivery was now scheduled to be at the end of July/early August but that in practice this would move forward, so I was hopeful all would work out ok.

    The salesman then left the dealership in May and a new sales person was appointed and I asked about the status of delivery and was informed that it was now pushed to late August (nearly 6 months after the order was made). We kept asking for updates over the last few weeks with no real help from the dealership and I made the decision to cancel the order as I needed to source another vehicle quickly that would arrive in time for my driving holiday. I was assured by them that it was an issue with the manufacturer and that the delivery date could not be changed. I then emailed to cancel the order and proceeded to purchase a used vehicle that could be delivered within 2 weeks from another manufacturer and surprise surprise, the dealer came back to say that delivery could now be moved to 17 July(!), however it was too late as I had already paid a £2000 deposit on another car. Despite the car not being built yet, they are still saying I am liable for the entire £1,000 deposit. Is there anything I can do or is this lost now?

    Many thanks in advance for your advice. Prad

    • Hi Prad. It will probably depend on whether you have anything in writing (contract, emails) that specifically says that the expected delivery date is in June (prior to approx. 19 June). If the car is not deliverable with 28 days of the promised date, you can cancel and get your deposit back. It should be in the T&Cs of your contract.

      If you don’t have anything in writing, you’re not going to be able to prove anything.

  70. Hi. I ordered a new Hyundai i10 in April 2017 for delivery on 1st September. The car is white and I specified I wanted a red interior (choice was black, blue or red). I have now found out that the car is no longer made with a red interior and that I will be supplied with a black interior instead. I did not want a black interior in April and I still don’t want it, so am I entitled to a refund of the £1000 deposit? Although the car will function in exactly the same way, I consider this to be a fundamental change to my specification, which is written on the order form. Thanks…Ian

  71. I asked about a car and was persuaded to put down a deposit over the phone and I said I would come to look at it and if all ok purchase the car. I then called back two days later to say I didnt want to go ahead. the dealer was rude and hung up on me. I then emailed him to confirm my conversation, He said that he put new tyres on the car as good will gesture and I will have part of deposit back minus the cost of tyres. I said that this was not discussed so I dont have to pay to make his cars road legal. I want my deposit back. He has refused to send me policy on terms and conditions. I didnt sign anything and he has now sold the car?. what can i do ?

  72. I went to a dealership and put a $500 deposit on a car that they said I was approved for with intentions of paying the rest and getting the car only to find out the very next day that the dealership approved me for the loan but it had not yet been approved thru any bank. Am I entitled to get my deposit back and shop elsewhere?

  73. Hi Stuart,

    The managers car I drove was the exact model I wanted. However, later realising that a 7 seater would be more suitable. Any chance I could get a partial refund?


  74. Hi Stuart,

    I wonder if you could help here. I went to a car dealer and test drove the managers car which is the model i wanted. I was told the actual car I would receive is being shipped and not going to arrive until about 3 weeks. I put down a deposit of £1000 so they can direct the car to be delivered to them. I signed some pre-contract agreement form. After 2 weeks, I’ve changed my mind as the car is “not fit for purpose”. We need a 7 seater now, not a 5 seater. Can I get my deposite back?


    • Hi Donald. I don’t see that the dealer would be obliged to refund your money. You can’t argue that the car is not fit for purpose when it hasn’t even arrived and you have changed the requirements after buying it.

  75. Hi, wondering if you can offer some advice. I visited my local Audi dealership to view a car, which turned out to be unsuitable. While I was there the salesman looked through their database and told me they had a different car (higher engine size, automatic, different colour) at a different branch, and they could get it up for me to look at. I said I’d look but wasn’t sure about it. After leaving the dealership I received an email asking if I’d pay a £500 deposit to have the car brought up to view. They did state that if I decided it wasn’t for me, I’d get my deposit back. I then received an email from the business manager with finance quotes, and congratulating me on purchasing a car…which obviously got me worried. I’ve decided that the car isn’t for me, it’s not what I originally set out to buy, however the car is now at the local dealership and is awaiting me to test drive it. I’ve agreed to go today but already know I have no intention of buying this particular car. I’m worried they are going to try to pressure me or argue over refunding my deposit. Do you have any advice I can follow?


    • Hi Kay. Stick to your guns and insist on getting your money back. If they try and pressure you, insist on making a complaint to the general manager about their sales tactics. If they are being completely objectionable, throw a massive hissy fit in the middle of the showroom in full earshot of other customers – that usually works…

  76. Hi Stuart, I put a £300 deposit on a new personal lease car. Two days before the car was due to be delivered the lease company phoned to say the car had been damaged in the dealership and needed repairs. They were unable to confirm when the car would be delivered, offered no apology or made any attempt to compensate for consequential losses. Not sure I now want a new car which has been damaged even before I get it. If I cancel the order, will I be entitled to a refund of deposit.

    • Hi Keith. It all depends on the extent of the damage. Problem is, no-one is likely to want to give you too much info about exactly how bad it is, as neither the dealer/manufacturer or the leasing company will want you to walk away from the deal.

  77. Hi. I put a deposit down of £500 on a car after the dealer agreed it would be fully refundable if I decided not to proceed with the car. There was some body work repairs that needed doing that the dealer said he would be doing away but if I left a deposit he would get the work done quicker. I would then view the car to decide if I was happy to proceed any buy the car. A few days later, on reflection I decided that I didn’t want to consider the car being repaired and asked or my deposit back. The dealer is not refusing to pay my deposit back as he is saying he has spend out to put the car right. This was work he would of had to do anyway so I am
    Not happy that he keeps my deposit. I honestly don’t think he has had any real out of pocket expenses. The cat was even still being advertised! Do I have a right to my deposit back?

    • Hi Henry. Unless you have a written guarantee from the dealer that your deposit is refundable, then you’re probably not going to get it back – unless you kick and scream long and hard enough that they give you the money back to make you go away.

  78. Hi Stuart. My daughter and son in law recently agreed to by a 7 year old Vauxhall Meriva from a garage and put down a deposit agreeing to collect the car a few days later. They were told the paperwork was at there other garage and it would be ready when they collected the car.
    However the day before the collection they were phoned to say that there wasn’t a V5 as the previous owner had it and they would have to fill out a V62?
    I advised them that the garage should get the V5 before they should buy it, but nothing has happened 2 weeks on.
    They have since found another car, but the previous garage is refusing to refund the deposit. Do they have any legal rights as the garage didn’t say up front that the 5 was lost, and what should they do? Thanks

    • Hi Mark. You are quite right to insist that the car has a valid V5C certificate before purchasing the vehicle. Otherwise there is the risk that the original owner could claim the car back and it could get messy (there are scams involving this sort of behaviour, although they are not common).

      If the dealer is refusing to refund their deposit, they will probably have to call in a solicitor to take (or at least threaten) legal action.

  79. Hi Stuart, I put down a £300 deposit as part of a PCP deal on a new VW and cancelled the next day before the car was ordered. Will I be entitled to a deposit?
    Cheers, Pete

  80. Hi Stuart. I started a discussion over the phone with a private dealership to purchase a one owner car with a full main dealer service history. I used the cars registration on AutoTrader website to get model spec (listed as ‘Exec’ version) information and a guide price for the car I wanted to purchase. The dealer advert on Auto Trader included a video walk around of the car, showing and stating, amongst other things, that a full set of original documentation was present with the car.

    I then visited the dealership on Saturday to look at and test drive the car. During the visit I enquired about an engine repair item that I knew the car required. The sales person said this had now been completed by the main dealer, however did not produce any paperwork to that effect.

    In the course of our discussions I was told that the service book was not available with the car (contrary to the video advert), but that the main dealer would validate the full service history and provide a new service book. I then asked about the last service that fell due in 2016, which should have been a major service based on the age and mileage of the vehicle. The sales person went away to call the main dealer and then came back to tell me that only a minor service had been done in 2016 and not the required major service. The private dealer said they could not do the major service on the vehicle for me, but might be able to get a trade price for me on the major service work, however they could not put that in writing.

    I left the dealership not having paid any deposit, saying that I needed to think about it all before proceeding.

    Later that day, in a follow conversation with the dealer, the salesman told me that they had other people wanting to see the vehicle and that I couldn’t really wait overnight to make a decision, but they could ‘take it off sale’ while the outstanding issues (engine repair confirmation, new validated service book and trade price for major service) were being sorted out, if i left a £1,500 deposit. I reluctantly agreed to do this, thinking that the deposit would be refundable in the event the we could not resolve the outstanding issues and paid the deposit over the phone with a credit card

    Later on Saturday evening, more from a peace of mind point of view than anything else, I ran an Auto Trader Experian Vehicle check on the car. On checking the results, I was surprised to find that the car was listed as the ‘base’ version and not the Exec version. This was a new concern, as I knew that one feature which I was particularly interested in having (rear seat heating) was standard in the Exec spec’d car, but only an option in the “base’ model.

    On Sunday morning I called the dealership to find out about the spec anomaly and to check the car did have rear seat heating. The sales person who I was working with was not in, but another sales person went to physically look at the car and came back to inform me that it did not have heated rear seats!

    Reflecting on all of this on Sunday, I came to the conclusion that there were now just too many issues with the deal for me to continue and that it would be better for me to pull out before completing the purchase.

    I e-mailed the sales person I had been dealing with, explained the situation as outlined above and suggested that they put the car back on sale immediately, while we agree how best to conclude our business. When I spoke with the sales person on Monday afternoon, I was met with a fairly frosty response, saying essentially that they were legally entitled to keep my deposit and that I should consider that carefully if I choose to now pull out of the purchase.

    Needless to say, I don’t feel that the vehicle I thought I buying, is the one thats being offered and there are now too many questions in my mind about service and maintenance history for my comfort. Moreover, I have lost trust in the relationship, which prior to my visit to the dealership I felt was ok. I would really just like to get my deposit back and walk away at this point.

    How would you advise me to proceed?

    Many thanks


  81. Hi there, I bought a van online with an initial £500 deposit. After delivered I found a wide array of faults making it not fit for purpose. All within 7 days. After the dealer finally agreed to take it back he emailed me saying he sees the faults and will offer refund or replacement. I said refund and after weeks of him going on holiday and ignoring me he finally sent me an email saying the money will be in my account within 2-3 days, minus the deposit. Its been a week and nothing has gone in yet.

    Can he really hold a deposit for a faulty car? How do I fight this?
    Please help!

    Regards, Nicole.

    • Hi Nicole. If it’s a work vehicle (and vans usually are), then you are not covered by the Consumer Rights Act as you would be for a personal use vehicle.

      Morally, if the dealer has accepted that the vehicle is faulty and agreed to refund you, it should be 100% without holding anything back (assuming the vehicle is in the same condition as when you bought it). However, legally is not the same as morally, so you may have to fight to get your final £500 back.

  82. Hello. I recently put a £500 deposit on a vehicle that I saw on the internet. I called the dealer and asked questions including if the car has been HPI checked which he said it had which he now denies. I have checked the car myself which showed that it is a Cat D write off. I have decided that because of this I no longer want the car and I have asked for my money back. The dealer is being difficult and said that I should have checked it before giving them the deposit. There is no mention on their website or advert Goethe car. Please could I have some advice SD to where I stand. Many thanks.

    • Hi Mat. A dealer is oblige to declare if the car is a Cat C or Cat D write-off. It’s very unlikely that the dealer would not have done an HPI check; it’s standard practice.

      Saying that you should have checked is unacceptable, and you should be able to cancel your order and get your deposit back.

  83. Hi Stuart,

    I’m looking at buying a car from the local Ford dealer. They are requesting that I pay a £500 deposit before the car is moved over from another branch in Oxfordshire and that this is normal practice. Does this consitute an off-premises sale? I’m just wondering where I’d stand if there was a fault with the car or I wasn’t happy with what it looked like when it arrived.

    • Hi Nick. If you’re in the dealership, it’s not an off-premises sale – regardless of where the car is.

      Make sure you have a suitably-written comment in the contract which says something along the lines of “Contract subject to customer’s inspection of vehicle”. If you’re not satisfied, the contract is void.

  84. Hi Stuart,

    I have recently put a deposit down for a vehicle and was offered an extended warranty. The warranty is due to start when the manufactures warranty lapses on 31.10.2017. Having read the fine print of the warranty I will still purchase the vehicle but won’t be taking out the warranty. How do I stand legally regarding the whole of the deposit.

    • Hi Derek. The dealer probably won’t be happy (they get a nice kick-back from the warranty company), but you are well within your rights to cancel the extended warranty.

  85. My wife has put a £200 deposit down on a car based on a quote using a friends and family discount. However it turns out the discount was family only and so not valid which has increased monthly cost by £50. Is she entitled to her deposit back? The deposit being put down and increase in price occurred over 4 days.

    • Hi Michael. It will depend on whether or not the policy changed in that time, or if you were simply wrongly advised about how the discount works.

      If the policy changed so that she was no longer eligible, you would be entitled to cancel the contract and get your deposit back. If the policy never allowed it and you were mistaken, you’re probably not entitled to your money back – unless you can show that you have been incorrectly advised in writing (verbally doesn’t count).

  86. Hi I recently but a £500 deposit down on a I haven’t seen the car as they said they would have to bring it from another garage. I haven’t signed anything but when I’ve looked into it I can’t afford it. I phoned to cancel it, bearing in mind it’s not even at the garage yet and they said i can’t have my deposit back. Is this right?

  87. I have seen car on auto trader with trader seller, put down 200 deposit to reserve car, but once visited showroom car did not match description of add, I have requested refund which trader has refused. All dealings has been done over phone or sms prior to visit when found out car does not match description. Can I get deposit back, if, so how? Thanks for advice.

    • Hi Sunny. Yes, you are entitled to your deposit back. Firstly, the deposit was placed without you setting foot in the dealership, so you are covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. You can cancel your purchase and get a full refund. Secondly, the car is not as advertised, therefore you have the right to cancel your purchase under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

      If the dealer refuses to give you your money back, you will need to take action against him. He is probably assuming that you will give up rather than pursuing this, since the cost of engaging a lawyer is going to be more than £200.

      I would suggest you write to him, pointing out your rights in law, and then keep hassling him every day until he refunds you the money. If he realises that you are not going to give up, he will eventually pay you to make you go away.

  88. Hi there. Thanks for all the advice above. A friend has just phoned and falls in the middle of many of the discussions above.
    He did visit the dealership to test drive the car, but then paid £500 deposit over the phone by debit card.
    He has not seen or signed any paperwork.
    He now wants to cancel the order – but more than 14 days have passed since he paid the £500.
    The dealer says it won’t refund the money because he’s taken longer than 14 days to tell them.
    Any advice would be a great help.

  89. I have seen and enquired about a car online. I agreed a price over the phone and paid a £200 deposit. The dealership has now got back to me and says the picture is a ‘library’ image and that the car has lots of extras on it which has increased the price by about £400. I can stand the extra cost but one of these extras is a red ‘touch’ package. I was under the impression I had orderd a black car only to find out its black and red. Should I be able to get my deposit back?

    • Hi Kate. You are absolutely entitled to your deposit back. The car is not as described so you can withdraw from your purchase and get your money back. The dealer may try and cajole you into buying the car anyway, or transferring your deposit to another car they have for sale, but you do not have to accept any alternative option.

    • Thank you for your advice. I have been to the dealer this morning and told them I did not want the car as it wasn’t the car I had agreed to put a deposit on. They said it was fine and I could get my deposit back and they would call me in the afternoon once a manager could process it. Surprise surprise the phone call never happened and when I called back the sales person I have dealt with was either busy or had gone home. I will try again tomorrow and this time if they don’t return my call I will go again in person and wait at the dealership until a manager becomes available.

  90. Hi. I test drove a car and left the dealership with no purchase etc. A few days later I decided to buy the car and paid £1000 deposit over the phone. I have signed no paperwork and can now no longer proceed with the purchase. Because I had test driven the car does this mean that although I have signed nothing and paid the deposit over the phone that I am not entitled to my deposit back?

    • Hi Judith. The dealer may be happy to refund your £1,000 or they may want to argue the matter.

      If they want to argue with you, it is likely to depend on how much discussion went on at the dealership, and whether they provided you with a quotation. If you were paying a deposit based on a quotation provided on-site, they are likely to argue that the sale was largely inducted on the premises and that your deposit was confirmation of your acceptance of their offer.

      If you keep arguing, you will probably get it back eventually.

  91. Hi. I wonder if you could help please? I’ve recently placed a £1000 deposit on a used approved car from a main dealership. This has all been done over the phone and I was due to complete the sale in person in a few days. I haven’t signed any contracts or seen and T&Cs. I’ve now looked properly at my finances and I am unable to proceed with the deal. At the time I paid the deposit I wanted some time to think about it, but was talked into placing the deposit. Will I be able to get my deposit back and walk away from the deal?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  92. Hello, a £255 deposit was put down on a used car. My son returned the car within the 30 day, under the consumer protection act, as it was not ” fit for purpose”. The company had it back and cancelled the credit agreement, however the deposit had not been returned. Where do we stand.
    Thank you

    • Hi Sandra. Yes, if the car has been rejected under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, the full invoice amount of the vehicle is refundable.

      The finance agreement is separate from the deposit paid to the dealer. You will need to keep chasing the dealership until it is repaid.

  93. Hi Stuart.

    Thank you for this informative article. I wonder if you don’t mind answering a personal query on this: I put down a £300 deposit on a car from a dealership and the entirety of the sale took place over the phone and not on premises. A couple of days after putting down the deposit over the phone i did not go ahead with the order. I did not sign any sort of order form etc. As per your article above i believe i am entitled to this money back but the salesman told me that they had to bring in another car from a dealership etc and therefore incurred costs so i cannot have this deposit back. None of this i was ever aware of. They even mentioned that they can hold this deposit in case i wanted to buy a car from them in the future. I have tried contacting them again to request my refund back but have now received no communication back from them and i am wondering a) if i am entitled to my deposit back and b) how to approach the situation?…

    Any help would be most appreciated.



What are your thoughts? Let us know below.