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Can You Negotiate Car Price After Putting Down a Deposit?

Did you put a deposit down on a car only to find out that maybe you could’ve gotten a better price?

In that case you’re probably wondering if you can negotiate the price of a car AFTER you have already put down a deposit.

The short answer is: It depends on the specific circumstances and the policies of the dealership, as well as any contracts you might have signed

Why Leave a Deposit on a Car?

When you put down a deposit on a car, it typically serves two purposes:

  1. Holding the Car: The deposit ensures that the dealership holds the car for you and doesn’t sell it to someone else while you finalize the purchase.
  2. Showing Intent: By putting down a deposit, you’re demonstrating your intent to purchase the car, which signals to the dealer you’re serious and that can be helpful during price negotiations.

However, it’s important to note that a deposit does not always mean that the price is set in stone.

Negotiating After a Deposit

In some cases, you may be able to negotiate the price of a car even after putting down a deposit. Here are a few scenarios where this might be possible:

Refundable Deposits

If the deposit you put down is marked refundable, you may have more flexibility to negotiate the price.

Refundable deposits are typically used when the dealership orders a car specifically for you or when you put a deposit on a car that hasn’t arrived at the dealership yet.

In this situation, the dealership may be more willing to negotiate the price because they haven’t finalized the sale yet, and they want to keep you as a customer.

Non-refundable Deposits

If the deposit you put down is non-refundable, you have an uphill battle ahead of you.

Non-refundable deposits are often used when you’re putting a deposit on a car that’s already on the lot and ready for sale.

The reason why this type of deposit is more firm is because it’s more likely to result in the dealer losing money if you back out.

For example, if someone comes in and is interested in the car you put a deposit on, they have to inform them there is a deposit and that could likely cost the dealership additional business.

If you were to back out of the deal after they lost another customer, that would certainly be considered a loss in the dealer’s eyes.

Dealer Policies

Ultimately, whether you can negotiate the price after putting down a deposit will depend on the policies of the specific dealership you’re working with.

Some dealerships may have strict policies against price negotiations after a deposit has been made, while others may be more flexible.

It’s always a good idea to ask about the dealership’s policies regarding deposits and price negotiations before putting down any money.

Tips for Negotiating After a Deposit

If you find yourself in a situation where you want to negotiate the price of a car after putting down a deposit, here are some tips that may help:

  • Be polite and respectful: Approach the negotiation in a friendly and professional manner. Dealerships are more likely to work with you if you’re reasonable and courteous.
  • Explain your situation: If your circumstances have changed since putting down the deposit (e.g., you found a better deal elsewhere, your financial situation has changed), explain this to the dealership. They may be more understanding and willing to work with you.
  • Be prepared to walk away: If the dealership is unwilling to negotiate or meet your desired price, be prepared to walk away from the deal. While it may be disappointing, it’s better than being stuck with a car you’re unhappy with or a price you can’t afford.

Can a Dealership Keep Your Deposit

If you put a deposit down on a car and now you want out, can the dealership keep the deposit?

Answer: Yes, but only if they follow the law.

So, consumer protection laws vary from state to state, but here in Florida a dealer has a process they must follow in order to legally retain your deposit:

Florida Statute 501.976(10)

This statute states that it is an unfair or deceptive practice for a dealer to “require or accept a deposit from a prospective customer prior to entering into a binding contract for the purchase and sale of a vehicle unless the customer is given a written receipt that states how long the dealer will hold the vehicle from other sale and the amount of the deposit, and clearly and conspicuously states whether and upon what conditions the deposit is refundable or nonrefundable.”

  • If the dealer does not provide a compliant written receipt specifying if the deposit is refundable or not, they cannot legally retain the deposit if the sale does not go through.
  • The receipt must clearly state the conditions under which the deposit is refundable or non-refundable.

Dealer Policies on Refunding Deposits

  • Some dealers may have policies to refund deposits up until the customer signs the final paperwork, unless the car was specifically ordered for that customer.
  • However, in general, if the receipt states the deposit is non-refundable, the dealer is likely entitled to keep it even if the customer changes their mind, absent any violation of the receipt requirements in the statute.

Consumer Protections

  • If the dealer violates the receipt requirements in 501.976(10), the customer may be entitled to get the deposit back and potentially additional statutory damages under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act.
  • The Florida Attorney General’s office can investigate repeated violations by dealers failing to refund deposits when required.

So, whether a Florida dealer can keep a deposit depends heavily on if they provided a proper written receipt specifying the refundability conditions as required by 501.976(10). If they did not, they likely must refund the deposit.

But if the receipt properly disclosed it as non-refundable, they can generally keep it.

State Laws and Cooling-Off Periods

Some states have laws that provide a “cooling-off” period for car purchases, which gives you a certain number of days to change your mind and cancel the purchase without penalty.

However, these laws vary from state to state, and they may not apply to deposits or non-refundable fees.

Related Article: 3 Day Right To Cancel Car Purchase

It’s always a good idea to research the laws in your state and understand your rights before putting down a deposit or finalizing a car purchase.


Whether you can negotiate the price of a car after putting down a deposit or change your mind entirely will depend on the specific circumstances, the policies of the dealership, and state law.

While it may be possible in some cases, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of the deposit before signing anything and handing over your hard earned money.

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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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