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Can You Sell a Car Back To The Dealership

Can You Sell a Car Back To The Dealership

The short answer is yes, it’s generally possible to sell your car back to the dealership where you purchased it, but there is no federal or state law mandating that a dealer must buy your car back or refund your money.

The only exception to this is obviously when the dealer made a mistake or lied to you about the car.

If the dealer isn’t at fault, you’re essentially in the position of a normal customer who walks in the door and wants to sell or trade their car to the dealership, so I’m going to prepare you accordingly…

Helpful Article to Read: 3 Day Right To Cancel Car Purchase

Understanding Car Depreciation

One of the biggest factors to consider if you will be selling your car back to the dealership is the depreciation that occurs as soon as you drive the vehicle off the lot.

New cars can lose up to 20% of their value within the first year of ownership.

This means that if you purchased a new car for $30,000, it could be worth as little as $24,000 when you drive it back to the dealership.

That might seem extremely unfair, but it’s possible!

The good news is that as of 2024, new and used car prices remain high, and inventory remains somewhat of a struggle for dealerships, so if your dealer isn’t eager to take the car back (even at a discount), it’s likely you’ll be able to find another dealer that will.

Selling Back to the Dealership

If you decide to sell your car back to the dealership, they will evaluate its condition, mileage, and market value just like any other car. Here are a few key points about this part of the process to keep in mind:

  • Timing is crucial: The sooner you sell the car back, the less depreciation it will have experienced, and the higher the potential offer from the dealership.
  • Negotiate the offer: Dealerships will typically offer you a lower price than what you could get from a private sale, as they need to make a profit when reselling the vehicle.
  • Consider trade-in value: If you plan to purchase another vehicle from the same dealership, you may be able to use the trade-in value of your current car as a down payment or to reduce the overall cost of the new vehicle.
  • Understand your loan situation: If you have an outstanding loan on the car, the dealership will likely require you to pay off the remaining balance before they can take possession of the vehicle. In some cases, they may be willing to roll the remaining loan balance into a new car loan if you’re trading it in.

Alternatives to Selling Back to the Dealership

While selling your car back to the dealership might be the fastest route, it’s not going to be the most financially advantageous choice. Here are some alternatives to consider:

  • Private sale: Selling your car privately, either through online classifieds or to an individual buyer, can often fetch a higher price than what a dealership would offer. However, this process can be more time-consuming and may involve additional paperwork and legal considerations.
  • Car buying services: Companies like Carvana, Vroom, and CarMax offer online car buying services that can provide a competitive offer for your vehicle without the hassle of a private sale.
  • Lease buyout: If your car is leased, you may have the option to purchase it at the end of the lease term for the predetermined residual value. This can be a good option if the residual value is lower than the market value of the vehicle.


While it is possible to sell your car back to the dealership where you purchased it, it’s essential to understand the implications of car depreciation and explore all available options to ensure you get the best possible value for your vehicle.

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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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