Sep 26, 2023

Reversing the Drive: Mastering the Art of Car Returns

Regret after purchasing that new vehicle? Navigate the murky waters of car returns with finesse and confidence

How to Navigate the Complex World of Car Returns Without Regret

Ah, the scent of a new car. But what happens when the luster fades and buyer's remorse sets in? It's a story more common than you'd think. Can you rewrite this narrative? Let's explore.

Understanding the Basics

Did you know that 40% of people who buy cars experience buyer's remorse? If you're hoping to return a vehicle, you're in good company. But here's the catch: most states don't have a cooling-off period for auto purchases. Once you've signed on the dotted line and driven the vehicle off the lot, it's yours. No more take-backs.

In my years working at a dealership, I've seen countless hopeful faces looking to reverse a decision. While many are turned away, there's a handful who, with the right strategy, navigate a favorable outcome.

Option 1: Trade in the Vehicle

Your primary option is to consider trading in your vehicle. Here's how to optimize this route:

  • Research First: Before approaching the dealership, get quotes for your brand new vehicle from multiple online platforms. Do your due diligence swiftly; time is of the essence.

  • The Right Approach: Instead of the typical 'don't visit the dealership' advice, this situation calls for a direct visit. Connect with the sales manager who worked your deal. Remember, they wield the real power.

  • Maintain Your Poise: Coming in hot won't do you any favors. Dealerships rely heavily on the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). A score below 9 out of 10? That's bad news for them. Your dissatisfaction, conveyed rationally, can be a bargaining chip. But lose your temper, and you risk being dismissed.

  • Negotiation Is Key: Recall those initial quotes you got for your vehicle? They'll be invaluable when negotiating the value of your near-new car. Yes, your car will depreciate a tad, but it's not always the dreaded 20%. Aim for a loss around the $1,000 mark. Though it may sting now, in the grand scope of car ownership, this figure becomes a blip on the radar.

Option 2: Selling Outright

Here's the caveat: This should be your last resort. Why? Taxes.

Most states offer a tax credit when trading vehicles. But if you sell your car outright, you forfeit this advantage. While trading in may get you closer to breaking even, selling often means losing out on tax benefits.

However, if selling is your only option:

  • Shop Your Car Around: Begin by getting quotes from various platforms. Then, approach the original dealership with your intentions.
  • Cast a Wide Net: If you purchased a Subaru Outback, for instance, contact every Subaru dealership within a 100-mile radius. You'd be surprised; some may offer competitive prices even for a barely-used car.

The Final Word

Ultimately, wanting to return a car can feel like navigating a maze with no exit. But with the right approach and mindset, it's not impossible to find a way out that minimizes losses. The true lesson? Invest time in making the right purchase initially.

As someone who's been in the car industry seemingly as long as I've been breathing, I've seen it all. And the most valuable advice remains: Buy wisely, and let's keep those regrets at bay.

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