You can back out of a car deal after you've paid a deposit. Depending on the agreement you made with the dealer, it may not want to refund your money. Do not leave a deposit on a vehicle unless you intend to buy it. Otherwise, if you want to hold the car, make sure the dealer notes that the deposit is refundable.
Prevent any hassle at the dealership by signing a receipt that truly reflects your purchase decision. For example, if you aren't sure you want to buy the vehicle but are offered a chance to hold it by leaving a small deposit, make sure the dealer notes this on the receipt. The dealer should note that your deposit is refundable based on your ultimate decision. If you intend to purchase the car and leave a deposit to prove your interest, read your receipt. Most states don't allow a dealer to keep a deposit unless you actually buy the car, which involves signing additional paperwork beyond the receipt.
If you left a deposit and only signed a receipt, you did not buy the car. If you signed additional paperwork, you may have bought the car, although unless you're driving it, you can probably back out of the deal. Go over your paperwork to review the documents you've signed. If you agreed to an end-of-month deal and signed loan contracts and motor vehicle paperwork but didn't take the car, your dealer probably did not process your paperwork and you can still cancel the purchase.
If You Took the Vehicle
Most dealerships require a deposit if you want to purchase a vehicle but can't do so that day. For example, some customers may have a loan approval but need to pick up the check, or they may be waiting for an insurance settlement to provide a down payment. If you leave a deposit, take the vehicle and change your mind before completing the paperwork, you do not have to buy the car. In this situation, you'll likely lose a portion of your deposit. The dealer can charge you for putting mileage on the vehicle's odometer and for its cleaning fees.
Pursuing the Return of Your Deposit
If your dealer refuses to return your deposit, call the proper authorities to initiate a complaint. Before initiating the complaint, let the dealer know you plan to do so. Many dealers would prefer to avoid this. Call your state attorney general's office or the motor vehicles department to begin the process. In most cases, the dealer will receive a phone call. The proper state authorities can help you back out of a car deal or get your deposit back, if you are eligible.