hamburger icon
Toyota RAV4 Prime top view blue color
Deals Articles

Putting Down A Deposit With A Car Dealer

A car shortage has created an environment in which dealers are selling cars before they arrive on the lot. As a result, consumers may find it necessary to put down a deposit if inventory is scarce. Here are some important things you may want to keep in mind if you're looking to put down a deposit on a new car or truck.

First, your ability to even put down a deposit may vary depending on the dealer. As for how much you should expect to put down for a deposit, the amount could be as little as $500. A deposit is usually meant to show the dealer you're serious about buying and is typically different from a down payment when buying or leasing.

Can You Get Your Deposit Back On A Car?

If you cancel your intent to buy and want your deposit back, your ability to do so may be dictated by the nature of your agreement with the dealer and possibly state law. Not all deposits may be refundable, especially if the dealer has placed a firm factory order. Be sure to understand the limitations before handing over any cash.

Chevy Tahoe SUV red color front view

An Incentive To Wait For Your Car

See a deal on a car you want that isn't in stock? You may be able to lock-in current rates to protect yourself if incentives change. For example, Chevy began offering this option earlier in the pandemic due to the car shortage. In Ford's case, the brand rolled out a $1,000 cash incentive for buyers on factory-ordered vehicles.

In a seller's market, a deposit could be a way to get your hands on the car you want. However, buyers should be sure to ask their dealer what the deposit is for. For example, is it to hold your place in line? Is it actually a non-refundable purchase deposit for a VIN that the salesperson was able to locate at another dealer?

Toyota Highlander 3-row SUV front view

Not All Car Brands Do Factory Orders

That said, even though vehicle orders have gained traction with consumers, brands like Toyota typically don't offer factory orders. Instead, it uses vehicle allocations that determine which models, trims, and configurations go to a given region. Your dealer will have access to this data and can help set the right expectations.

If inventory is particularly bad and you don't want to put down a deposit, it could make sense to delay your purchase. Some brands even offer price protection programs for additional peace of mind. Depending on your priorities, this could be a way to ensure you don't pay a dealer markup and get the latest model.

Shoppers should be aware that new car deals change monthly. While 0% financing deals do exist on select models, it's important to keep in mind that lease deals and various car rebate offers may get better (or even get worse) if you wait too long. We suggest considering all of your options to get the best deal possible.

Explore The Latest Car Deals

As CarsDirect’s resident pricing expert, Alex offers must-know analyses of pricing & incentives to those looking to buy or lease a car. His consumer-oriented coverage of the latest trends and breaking news has been featured by The Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, Motor Trend, Automobile Magazine, and more.

Sign Up for Customized Deal Alerts

Subscribe to receive emails of the latest deals. Select list to join:

Related Articles

Toyota Multiple Security Deposits Explained Putting down a security deposit can be a creative way to effectively make a lease less expensive. On some occasions, multiple refundable security d...
Using Multiple Security Deposits To Get A Cheaper Lease In some situations, putting down a security deposit can help enable shoppers to get a cheaper lease on a car. Even better, multiple security deposi...
Can You Buy A Car In Transit To A Dealer? If the car you want isn't in stock, it may be possible to buy one that's in transit to your local dealer. Due in part to an inventory shortage resu...
How It Works: Subaru Solterra Reservation Process If you're looking to save your spot in line for the new Subaru Solterra, you may want to place a reservation. Starting today, the automaker is offe...
Vehicle Reservation vs. Order Differences With new cars and trucks exceptionally hard to find because of an ongoing inventory shortage, more consumers are choosing to take advantage of rese...

Sign Up for Customized Deal Alerts

Subscribe to receive emails of the latest deals. Select list to join: