Earlier this week, V**** left a message for me. She was concerned because the name-brand dealership she had just purchased a used car from had called her to say that she had to bring the car back. They told her that they could not get her financed, and so she had to return the car.

When I called her back, she was on her way to the dealership. As we talked through the situation, it sounded as if the dealership was within its rights to ask her to bring the car back. However, in that situation, V****, like all consumers has rights, too.

When the dealership tells you that they will take your car back, it can feel like a big success, you’ve finally gotten away from this nightmare used car. However, many times, “We’ll take it back,” is code for, “We’ll find another way to rip you off.”

As V**** was driving, I coached her on what to say at the dealership. The main point was this: They had to return her trade-in and her full downpayment, with no reductions. When she got to the dealership, that’s exactly what she told them.

They responded by saying that this was exactly what they intended to do. Her trade-in was parked right outside, they were getting ready to cut her a check, and she just needed to sign a couple of documents first. Thankfully, V**** read them carefully and called me before signing. Here is what they wanted her to sign:


“Cash downpayment was not returned to purchaser.”

The dealership said that they were cutting the check, but they knew that once V**** signed the paper, they didn’t have to give her a thing. V**** didn’t sign, confronted them with their lies, and drove away from there with her money and her trade-in.

What can you do to avoid being ripped off by a vehicle return?

1. Watch for the common scams.

Read all the paperwork closely. The sale should either be rescinded or cancelled. Many times, however, the dealership will list the vehicle return as a voluntary repossession or a trade-in, giving them the right to assess fees and potentially destroy your credit.

2. Don’t believe anything that isn’t in writing.

Any promise they make, even one as simple as, “I’m going to the other room to get your check,” can’t be trusted. Get it in writing. If it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen.

3. Check your credit.

Wait four to six weeks after a vehicle return, and then pull your credit report. There should be some hard credit checks from the date of sale, but after that, there should be nothing detrimental to your credit from the transaction. Lookout for the dealership running your credit too much, or listing the return as a voluntary repossession.


Comments (4)

  • Bijan KH on August 5, 2016 at 7:52 PM

    Our car was impounded without any notification or notice whatsoever! why? We called dealership and then finance department and we were verbally informed that 62 days we have not paid our monthly payments. It took a lot of time and pain and trouble. We finally had access to all the checks and their listings of payment by Toyota finance department, through our bank. From the 1st day of purchase on 2012 to June 2016 , when they impounded the car we had paid every month, sometimes ahead of time! When they took the car, my medical equipments; as roller walker and back support and my disability placard was in it and we have only one car! They obliged my husband to leave his work and make a trip to Norwalk to get my properties and we had to pay for that too! To make the story short we had to get a loan from another bank by Toyota suggestion! The 2nd bank approved it. they had to pay the left overt to Toyota finance department, to get the title of the car and to be able the to release the car to us!! Toyota still did not approve to give the title to that bank and we could not get the loan to release the car and we had no money to pay off this car! Finally my husband talked to a supervisor in the same department with witness of bank employees and after a long discussion they send a form that is not even correct because our car is not leased! but my husband signed it by being stuck wth this situation where i can not go to my medical appointment,we have n other car no money to rent...etc. We are waiting for the release of the car. I have decided to take action and file for a suit against Toyota. They absolutely have no knowledge of our findings (regarding those non payments of 62 days as they say) and they assume we have accepted their wrongful accounting results. we have to pay also a fee of 400 dollars for this process!! Please advise me as soon as possible. Can u take care of our case? This is a strong case of a wrongful impoundment and causing a lot of pain to a disable person. with Respect Amy KH Reply

    • Kevin Faulk on August 8, 2016 at 7:18 AM

      Wow! That sounds horrible. I would love to see if I could help you with this situation. I'll send you an email for you to reply to. Reply

  • Francine barraza on September 5, 2017 at 6:24 PM

    California auto finance are scammers ibeen with this horrible finance subprime. Finance company since day 1 its awful. Me& my husband bought a 2012 ford fusion from stockton autoworld in the stockton ca. The dealers sold us a car for a trade in plus 1500 down and im paying 397.00 amonth wich was 350 but changed over a couple months into buying the car.so anyways i need help ihad such a hard time paying o. Time eberymo th because they give you all these late charges and dont give correct credit for your payments its crazy.so now iowe 518.00 32 days past due bevause theu added o er 100$ late charge and they called saying my cars out for reo again this will be the 2 time its so o erwhelming im ready to just give up please help me Reply

    • Kevin Faulk on September 6, 2017 at 11:21 AM

      Francine, Give me a call to discuss the situation so I can see if I can help you. Reply

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