Is it the law for a downpayment on a car to be non-refundable and go towards fixing the car without telling the buyer?

UPDATED: Mar 29, 2012

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Is it the law for a downpayment on a car to be non-refundable and go towards fixing the car without telling the buyer?

I put a down payment on a car that to my knowledge was in working condition. I was not told that the down payment for my car was non-refundable and is used to go towards the repairs of the car to pass inspection nor did I sign anything that stated my money was non-refundable. I asked for a refund because the car was not in working condition when they said it would be and had hidden issues that the dealer told me of later. He pointed to a sign on the wall which was a copy of a deposits are non-refundable. It was not there at first and he said people try to sue all the time and never win.

Asked on March 29, 2012 under General Practice, Virginia


Darren Delafield

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are a few questions here that need to be answered before any guidance can be given. Was there a written contract? Was there a Bill of Sale? Was the vehicle purchased "As Is?" Was there a sign on the vehicle stating it was being sold "As Is?"

As a general rule, a contract for the sale of goods, including a motor vehicle, for a price of $500 or more is not enforceable by way of action or defense unless there is some writing sufficient to indicate that a contract for sale has been made which was signed by you. See Code of Virginia § 8.2-201. This may allow you to get your depots refunded.

The Code of Virginia § 46.2-1530 requires that there be a written buyer's order. The buyers order must include the amount of any cash deposit made by the buyer.

Virginia also has laws protecting buyers from fraud in connection with a consumer transaction. Was the vehicle being purchased by a business or for personal use? A consumer transaction means it was for personal use. If the salesperson lied regarding the condition of the vehicle, this could be fraud in connection with a consumer transaction. If so, the law permits the Judge to award attorney fees to the buyer.

Some attorneys will take this type of case on a contingency fee because of the likelihood of an award of attorney fees. Good luck.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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