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Can You Return A Car You Just Purchased? What Are The Rules?

couple at the car dealer showroom

So you just got a new car, and you can’t contain your excitement. Then suddenly, you find yourself thinking about your monthly mortgage installments. Will you still be able to keep up with them, especially now that you’re financing this new purchase? What about tuition fees and all the other miscellaneous monthly expenses?

At this point, you know exactly what you ought to do—return the car to the dealership. But is that possible? Read on below to find out.

divider 5The Cooling-Off Rule

Purchasing a car is complicated. It’s not like purchasing your favorite designer clothes from the store, or groceries. That’s why policies that touch on the topic, and even laws, are relatively strict. We would have loved to give you a clear answer, but that’s not possible, as it depends on a few factors.

You may have seen a sign at the dealership that read, “No Cooling-Off!” Well, it was referring to the federal cooling-off rule that buyers love to use as an excuse, whenever they are dealing with buyer’s remorse. This rule was implemented to protect consumers who sometimes find themselves buying something they don’t want to just because they were subjected to some high-pressure sales tactics.

Unfortunately for you, this rule doesn’t apply in the automobile industry. And what that means is, it’s up to the dealership to decide if they’ll unwind the deal or not. That’s why we told you it could be a ‘maybe’.

However, if you’re looking to return the car after realizing it has a fault, that’s a different story.

salesman giving car keys to buyer
Image Credit: 89stocker, Shutterstock

The Short-Term Right To Reject Rule

The 2015 Consumer Rights Act has a rule that gives buyers a maximum of 30 days to return their newly purchased used car to the dealership. If there’s something wrong with the car, and you can prove that you’re not responsible for whatever that is, nobody can stop or sue you for rejecting it.

You are entitled to return the car to the dealership and ask for a full refund. Of course, that is only if you want your money back. If you just want them to fix the issue and return the car to you, they can do that as well.

The good thing about purchasing a motor from the dealership is, you’re also protected by the Sales of Good Act 1979. It says that the car you’re thinking of buying should match its exact description, be of satisfactory quality, and be fit for purpose.

So, the next time you go out to get yourself some new wheels, remember to check the condition of the car—don’t just focus on the price

Returning a Car To a Private Seller

Typically, those who choose to work with private sellers are buyers who are looking for cheaper options. And that’s great, save for the fact that you’ll be risking a lot.

You won’t be as protected as you would have been had you bought the car from a dealership. The only rights that you’ll have are returning the car if the seller wasn’t allowed to sell it by law, and to return it if you can prove that there’s a mismatch between the written and verbal description of the car.

car dealership
Image Credit: Pixabay

How can you avoid being taken advantage of by a private seller?

For starters, if the seller is hesitant about meeting at their place of residence, take that as a red flag. Buying a car is no small purchase. So you should be asking yourself this: why would anyone be apprehensive about conducting such a huge transaction at a place where they feel most comfortable?

Secondly, take down every bit of information about that transaction, including their address. That way, should you have a problem down the road, you’ll know exactly where to start looking.

Thirdly, look out for dealers who pose as private sellers. We’ve been in this business long enough to know such dealers are usually in the market looking for unsuspecting, naïve buyers who can’t tell a good deal from a bad one.

You’ll be able to tell you’re talking to a dealer because they always seem to have several other cars on sale, just nearby. Even if they don’t, they’ll always ask you to describe the car you just bought from them, a clear indication that they’re in the business of selling cars.

If you’re not knowledgeable about cars, seek help from a friend or family member. Someone who’ll right away spot a default and let you know.

Lastly, always check the car’s history. You could visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System site, and key in the details. It will give you the salvage information, insurance loss, and everything else that you’d want to know.

old man handing over car keys to a young man
Image Credit: Freepik

Returning a Car To An Auction

To be honest, the only good thing about buying a car at an auction is the experience of the live auction itself. Other than that, we really don’t think there’s anything else good that would come out of it.

According to the law, anyone who purchases any car from an auction is not protected by the Consumer Rights Act. And at the auction, you’re only allowed to check the terms and conditions. Not the actual car.

Will you be able to return it if you find a fault? No.

divider 5Conclusion

The safest route to take when it comes to buying a car is the one that involves a dealer. Even though they often don’t have written policies allowing customers to rescind their purchase agreements, they could still hear you out.


Featured Image Credit: Nejron Photo, Shutterstck

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