Have Buyer’s Remorse? Do You Understand Return Rules When Buying A New Car?

by Hank Coleman

Understand your state's car lemon lawsThere are a lot of myths floating out there about buying a new or used car. Many people think that they have up to three days to return a car if they change their mind. But, that’s not true at all. Other people do not understand the lemon law of their state. Knowing the in and out of car buying and what you are allowed before you make your buying decision will help save you from having buyer’s remorse and regret with your new car purchase.

All Car Sales Are Final

Many consumers incorrectly think that they have three days in which to change their mind if they have buyer’s remorse after they have purchased a new car. But, that is not true. All car sales are final in almost all cases. Cars, trucks, and other automobiles are not included in the Federal Trade Commission’s “Cooling Off” Rule. The Cooling Off Rule allows consumers up to three days to cancel the purchase of a product that they are not happy with or change their mind about, but this rule exempts car purchases.

When Car Sales Are Not Final

There are several occasions when consumers do have rights under the Federal Trade Commission’s rules to return cars. Car buyers can return cars if the car was bought away from the seller’s normal place of business. So, if you bought your car at a convention center or if the seller brought the car over to your house, you may be entitled to return that car if you change your mind about the purchase.

Understanding Your State’s Lemon Law

Another way to return your new car is if it falls under the classifications of a lemon. Each state has its own definitions of what classifies a car as a lemon. For example, in North Carolina, a car is designated a lemon if the vehicle has had four repair attempts or more or if it has been broken and out of service for more than twenty days during any twelve month period. For North Carolina, the Lemon Law’s coverage only extends two years or the first 24,000 miles driven. In most States, you will need to hire an attorney and take the manufacturer to court in order to resolve a Lemon Law dispute. You do not take the dealer to court which is often a common misconception. A lemon is a vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety. So, peeling paint or a strange knocking noise does not automatically qualify your car as a lemon.

If you think that you have a lemon, you can contact the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission to seek help. A local lawyer can and may be required in many cases, and not ever state will require manufacturers to reimburse the lawyer costs. Knowing your rights as a new car owner is imperative before you buy your car. Deciding that you want to change your mind after the purchase will often be too late.

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

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{ 1 comment }

Jenna November 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Thanks for the information. I’ve never heard of “lemon laws” before reading this.

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