Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Bought used car and had unexpected problems – return if no financing?

Hello Everyone,

I purchased a used car about a month ago and a problem regarding vibration and noise started to be noticeable a day after driving off the lot. I’ve spent a lot of time and money having mechanics look at it. The tires keep going out of alignment and the dealer has replaced several parts in the car themselves.

The dealer has been cooperative and is reputable (large dealer that sells new and used, full service shop, been around for a long time, etc). They have fixed whatever the mechanics found wrong themselves, but have grown tired of me and now don’t believe anything is wrong with the car. Meanwhile, the problem with the car has only become worse.

I put a down payment on the car and used financing; however the check from my credit union (for the financing portion) is still in the process of being mailed to me. That is, I have not yet fully paid for the car. Is it possible to return the car to them, saying that I could not get financing? In general, if financing falls through and the dealer agrees to accept the return, do dealers normally charge fees such as the amount of miles put on a car or number of days the car was used?

Thank you

No, that would be fraud.

Most used car sales are “as-is.” Some states (don’t know where you live) have a fixed period of “buyer’s remorse,” but that’s usually short, like 24-48 hrs or so. I cannot fathom why anyone would think a used car dealer is obligated to “buy back” a car a full month after the fact!

(Actually, I’m a bit surprised they let you drive around in a car you hadn’t paid for, for a month.)

I’m not. If the financing falls through, they get to keep the down payment and repo the car and resell it. There are used car operations that actually use this as a business model, selling used cars to people who can’t get credit, repossessing the car when a payment is missed, and reselling the car… for yet another down payment, until eventually the car gets sold to someone who actually makes the payments. It’s a lucrative if shady business model.

Surely this is covered in the contact and other paperwork that you signed. What does it say will happen if you don’t make the payment? What’s the purchase price of the car and how much was your down payment?

I have all the paperwork I was given but there is nothing about what will
happen if they dont receive the financing payment. The down payment was
2,500 and financing was for 7,500.

Have you heard the words ( repossess or lawsuit ). You signed a contract and you owe money. I can’t understand why it is taking so long to get the check. Our bank or credit union can have something like this taken care of in 30 minutes or less.

I strongly recommend you seek legal advice from a paid legal expert (attorney). This is not a forum for legal advice.

1 Like

If you don’t pay them, and honor the signed, written contract, they’ll repo the car. It’s YOUR car now, warts and all, and fixing it is your problem, not theirs. If you hand the car over to them…it’s still a repossession, just one you didn’t contest in any way.

(Unless your state has a “lemon law” on used sales. None of us have any way of knowing that, as you haven’t given us the state in which you live (and/or bought the car, if different) OR the year/make/model of the car in question.)

1 Like

If you have only talked to service advisors, I suggest you ask to speak to the service manager. If you already spoke to the service manager, they his boss. Explain that you don’t want your money back, just a car that works properly. See if they might work a trade for a similar used car on the lot.

1 Like

10k won’t get much these days. Could be 6yr old civic with 120k miles. Any details?

I have no idea what that means.


Work with the dealer to transition you to a different vehicle my thought.

1 Like

Thank you all for your thoughts and advice. It’s not my intention to do anything wrong like avoid paying- just wanted to explore and learn about what options are available, which is why I posted here- to learn. The manager at the dealer was not in today but will try to speak with them tomorrow and see what can be done like at least exchanging the car if a return/refund isn’t an option.

The car is a 2012 Chevy Malibu with 70k miles. It went through state inspection just prior to purchase and also a pre-purchase inspection performed by another mechanic before buying, neither of which detected the problem.

If the dealership mechanics are working the problem, just keep returning until the problem is resolved. If they deny there’s a problem, ask them to take a test drive with you. As long as you are able to clearly demonstrate the problem from what you say it seems like they’re willing to keep trying to fix it. A 2012 Malibu w/70K sounds like a pretty good car. So just continue to take it back until you are satisfied w/ the result.

BTW, for future used car purchases, the advice here seems to be to get a pre-purchase inspection before writing any checks. It’s a sort of $100 insurance policy to minimize the chance of stuff like this cropping up, and is well worth the expense.

The OP said the car went through a pre-purchase inspection before they bought it.

Not enough is known to be able to guess with any reasonable accuracy what the problem BUT if the tires are constantly going out of alignment I suspect something in the steering/suspension is faulty OR the car has been in a wreck and the subframe is cracked or shifting on its mounts.

Yes, unfortunately seems like this car has been a pain despite a pre-purchase inspection. I do not have much to suggest other than defending the OP.

At this point I will try and fix the car as much as possible and maybe try and see if the dealer would somehow be willing to settle on some compromise plan.

A slight or very specific vibration would probably go unnoticed during a pre-purchase inspection, normally no more than 10-15 minutes can be spent driving the vehicle.

It is not known what type of vibration this vehicle has but a new set of tires would cost less than hiring an attorney.

We don’t know the most basic things about this deal…namely, was it sold “as is” or with a warranty? What options OP has, and what the dealer is obligated to do (vs. elect to out of “goodwill”) hinges on the answer to that question. I don’t see how any of us can advise properly without that tidbit.


Not only meanjoe’s questions I still do not understand the length of time for the credit union check. This is one of those where the selling dealers side of the story would be interesting.

The car was sold as-is but included a powertrain warranty. After talking with the dealer, they agreed to look at the car again this Friday as they think the problem is with the rotors…

As far as more details about the problem:
-Low-pitched humming/growling noise that gets worse as speed increases. It is most noticeable at speeds over 50mph.
-Noise is still heard when turning either direction or when not accelerating.
-Slight vibration in the steering wheel and pedals.
-The steering wheel is slightly off center (car pulls to the right), even after tire re-alignment.
-All wheels are nearly brand-new and are correct tire pressure.
-The problem goes away after tire-alignment but comes back after a few days of driving.

Two front struts and tie rod were replaced by the dealer after I initially brought the problem to their attention. They had also done an alignment afterwards.