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Lose Your Job? You Can Return Your New Hyundai

Posted: Jan 05, 2009 11:32 a.m.

With job losses mounting daily, it seems like a bad idea to many of us to take on the debt associated with a new set of wheels.  As much as we'd all like a new car, in uncertain times, it just seems more prudent to try to squeeze a few more miles out of that old beater.  Unless, of course, you buy a Hyundai.  If you lose your job, Hyundais are now returnable. 

MSNBC explains, "In an attempt to combat economic uncertainty among automobile buyers," Hyundai is now "offering a first-of-its-kind one-year guarantee return program.  Starting today, the dealer begins allowing a new-car buyer to return the vehicle in the event of 'life-altering circumstances' such as layoffs, job transfers and accidental deaths up to a year after the purchase."

The deal is available on all new Hyundais, from the bargain-basement Accent to the luxury Genesis.  

In a press release, Hyundai explains, "The Hyundai Assurance Program, the first of its kind for an automaker in the U.S. auto industry, allows consumers to walk away from a financing obligation when certain adverse life events occur, providing protection from financial shortfalls that arise from vehicle depreciation (negative equity) up to $7,500." 

Those "adverse life events" include loss of employment, but also "international employment transfer" and even personal bankruptcy for the self-employed. 

Autoblog cautions, "There are plenty of catches, though. Hyundai buyers must have made at least two payments on their new cars, be current on said payments, and their reasons for unemployment must fall under a list of common causes. The plan also only covers $7,500 worth of depreciation. In other words, if you beat the hell out of your Hyundai and your car's now worth $7,500 less than what you paid for it, you gotta come up with the rest. There's also probably a clause somewhere in there somewhere that also sticks the buyer for tag, title, taxes, fees, etc. etc."

But with car sales plummeting in the current recession, the deal may remove a major impediment for many potential car shoppers.  Hyundai dealers are certainly encouraged.  Chris Houghton, general manager at New Hampshire's AutoFair Hyundai, tells MSNBC "Normally, we deliver 100 plus new cars a month, but now we've dropped down to the 50s. With this program, I expect we'll be right back up to the 100-plus, maybe more."

We should note that other dealers can offer similar programs, if they wish.  Hyundai arranged this agreement through a partnership with WalkawayUSA, a company that sells finance insurance on new car loans.  WalkawayUSA can only sell policies through dealerships, but can partner with any car dealership to arrange a similar program - though we haven't heard of any others on this scale.

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