What to do if I purchased a van from a dealership 19 days ago and had them pre-approve me over the phone but now they want the car back?

UPDATED: Sep 12, 2013

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What to do if I purchased a van from a dealership 19 days ago and had them pre-approve me over the phone but now they want the car back?

I went to the dealership, picked up the van and signed all the contract paperwork. Since then I have made changes to the van, one thing was removing some unwanted shelving and bins from the inside. I just received a phone call from the finance manager at the dealership and he told me they are having trouble finding a bank that will finance me, and that I will need to come up with more money down (which I do not have) or I will need to return the van. He told me I would need to replace or pay them back the value of the removed shelves also! Can they do this to me?

Asked on September 12, 2013 under Business Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

"Pre-approval" is NOT the same thing as getting the financing; all pre-approval means is that they think you'll probably get the financing. Sometimes, however, you do not; unfortunately, when that happens you have to either come up with the money some other way or else return the vehicle, since in the absence of financing, you have not paid for it. And if you have to return it, you have to return it in the same condition you received it in--or pay the cost to restore it. So from what you write, it seems they can do this.

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