Tips, Tricks & Trends

What’s the Deal With the Dealer Buyback Offers in Mail?

If you have ever leased or financed a car from a dealership, then you might get an offer in the mail from them offering to buy back your car within the first two to three years of owning or leasing it. But why would a dealership want to buy your car back, or have you trade it in, when you’re not done with the payments? There’s actually a good reason for it, and it’s not really to your benefit.

Mailers are convenient advertising

The dealer offers that you get in the mail, often referred to as “mailers,” will typically all say the same thing. They will say something to the effect of: “We need more used cars and we would love to have yours because it’s in high demand. So come down to the dealership and you can save up to $5,000 if you trade it in for a new one.” Of course, those aren’t exact words, but you get the idea.

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The truth of the matter is that a dealership always needs more car deals and in order to get more they send mailers out to thousands of previous customers in an attempt to have them trade in their cars for new ones. And while the mailer that you receive might sound somewhat personable and warm-hearted, as if your car is the just the car that they need to make their used car lot whole, just remember that everyone else got one too.

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car dealer
Salesperson showing vehicle to potential customer in dealership |Shutterstock

The deals that the dealer offers could be too good to be true

Let’s get this straight, while the offers on these mailers might seem too good to be true, the dealers are not flat out lying to you. You just need to read the fine print and understand what it is that they are offering. For example, if they offer for you to trade in your current car for a new one with a special financing rate or possibly a heavy discount, then you might not get both at the same time. Typically, you have to choose between saving money now (saving money on the cost of the car) or saving money later (saving on interest).

There are upsides to having the dealer buy back your car early

Don’t get us wrong, these mailers are not complete bogus by any means and if you really do want to trade in your car for a new one, then, by all means, work with the dealer and see if trading out of your car for a new one makes sense. As ACV Auctions puts it, “A dealer buyback program must be set up in a way that reduces as much friction as possible for the buyers.”

A new car deal can work just as much for the dealer as it does for you and you might actually be able to get into a new car lease, or possibly a new loan with better interest, for around what you’re paying for your current car. This works especially well if the newer model of your car is a redesigned version with new tech and styling,

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A man inspects new Toyota cars on display | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Do your research

We say this in just about every car-buying advice article, but here it is again: Do your research. While most people on the Internet will easily say that a dealer buyback offer is a complete scam, just keep in mind that it’s more of a marketing tool instead. If you really want to get out of the car that you’re in earlier than expected, then the dealer could possibly work with you. However, if you don’t want to take part in it, then just simply throw the mailer away.