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Is Chrysler’s 60-day ‘risk-free’ purchase program a good deal?

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Posted: 8 am ET

Recently Chrysler announced a new incentive for buyers that will cover their first two months' worth of car payments and allow them to return vehicles they don't like. The incentive applies to all Chrysler vehicles except the Dodge Viper and the Jeep Wrangler.

On the surface, it sounds pretty tempting. In my experience, a lot of people who've just bought new cars get wicked buyers' remorse within a few days and it would be nice if they could return a vehicle.

The incentive applies to all Chrysler vehicles except the Dodge  Viper and the Jeep Wrangler.

The incentive applies to all Chrysler vehicles except the Dodge Viper and the Jeep Wrangler.

However, I took a minute to look at the fine print, and what I found wasn't encouraging.

First off, in order to take advantage of the offer at all, you have to finance your vehicle through Ally Financial, formerly known as GMAC, which means you won't be able to shop around for the best auto loan on your own.

Plus, participating in the program means you're ineligible for rebates, low APRs and all the other incentives Chrysler is using to move cars off the lot these days, so that's a built-in cost regardless of whether you return the car or not.

Then, there's all the things a driver won't be compensated for in the event of a return:

  • License.
  • Title.
  • Registration fees.
  • Insurance.
  • Accessories.
  • Dealer fees.
  • Extended warranties.
  • Finance charges.
  • Negative equity.
  • Any other expenses incurred at the time of delivery of the new vehicle.

On top of that, a driver who wants to return their Chrysler will be on the hook for 40 cents for every mile they've driven since taking delivery of the vehicle, which if the driver drives a typical 1,000 miles a month would add up to a nontrivial $800. That would probably make them regret their original purchase just a little (sorry, Chrysler).

Then, there are the exceptions: If the vehicle has sustained more than $200 worth of damage, it can't be returned. If the vehicle's involved in any kind of traffic accident, it's not eligible either. Oh, and don't drive it too much while you have it. Put more than 4,000 miles on that Chrysler in those first two months and you're stuck with it.

In all, it seems like it might be better to just wait until you've worked a car purchase well enough into your budget and test driven enough alternatives that you're sure the car you want to buy is the right one.

Going into a purchase just because you have a rather expensive out in case you regret it doesn't seem like a good idea. Seems sort of like getting married just because you like your spouse-to-be well enough, they signed a prenup and you know a really good divorce lawyer. In other words, not a great idea.

What do you think? Are you tempted to take advantage of Chrysler's offer?

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1 Comment
Adam Beck
July 19, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Great article Claes. When I first heard about this offer, I knew there had to be a catch. If it sounds too good to be true then it usually is.