Buying a new car is perhaps one of the most exciting experiences for you. You spend a lot of time researching, saving up, and looking for reputable dealers around you. When you finally find it, what if something feels wrong and you face buyer’s remorse?
What if you feel you were shortchanged, or something was defective with the car? Now you’re thinking, can you return a car you just bought?
Here are some things to consider and expect when you try and return a car you just bought.
Why You Would Want To Return Your Car
Aside from just changing your mind, financial or technical difficulties might be grounds to return your automobile.
The dealership may be prepared to work with you if you are unable to make payments. If your car has mechanical problems, you may be able to return it depending on your state’s lemon laws and the terms and conditions of the car return policy.
The Payments Are Too Steep
You’ll have difficulty returning your car if you want to return it because you can’t afford the monthly payments.
The dealership could argue that it is your responsibility to assess your finances properly. Now, it’s up to them whether or not they’ll allow you to exchange the car for something cheaper.
If you can’t afford to return the car, contact the salesperson who sold you the vehicle first. If that proves unfruitful, then you can ask for a sales or general manager.
You Feel You Were Cheated
If you feel like you’ve been ripped off, there’s no reason not to try and discuss it with your dealer. First, check out the value of your car before you make your case.
You can check websites like Kelley Blue Book or Carfax for the same make and model.
When talking to the manager, remember that you’ve already signed a contract, and it’s entirely up to the dealership if they honor your request. You can also:
- Get in touch with your state attorney general’s office to figure out what to do.
- Hire an attorney to try and sue the dealership.
- File a complaint with the FTC, your state’s consumer protection agency, or the Better Business Bureau.
- Give the dealership a negative review on their website.
Your Dealer Has A Return Policy
Some dealerships offer a return policy that may allow you to exchange it or get a refund.
If your dealership offers you this, you must get it in writing. This way, they are forced and bound by contract to honor your car return or exchange request.
Some dealerships have programs that set a limited number of days, miles, or a combination of both if you want to exchange a vehicle.
For example, a dealership can exchange a car if you’ve had it for three days and haven’t driven it over 150 miles.
You Have Buyer’s Remorse
A change of mind after buying a car is probably one of the toughest cases to make when getting a dealer to say yes to a car return.
It is because very few dealerships have a return policy that covers buyer’s remorse. Once a sales contract has been signed, it’s your responsibility to pay as agreed and promised.
Your Car is a Lemon
Suppose you’re returning a car due to mechanical problems. In that case, you need to gather all the necessary documentation detailing the mechanical issues you’ve experienced.
It requires you to go into the dealer’s service center. When you do, make sure that all of the findings, repairs, and complaints are detailed on all repair orders.
If it still doesn’t work properly after multiple trips of having it serviced, chances are your car is a lemon — a car that is beyond repair. If you think this is the case, there are laws to protect you.
The Laws You Need To Know
As said above, certain laws are designed to protect you if you buy a defective automobile and want to exchange it for a safer, better working vehicle.
While there are various laws that consumers can rely on to pursue a dealership legally for an irreparable vehicle, state lemon laws are the most efficient and effective way to get compensated.
Lemon laws are powerful statutes that indicate when the manufacturer has violated the written warranty.
Any defects or issues that severely affect the safety or value of a new vehicle is a lemon. If your car isn’t repaired after several attempts, you’re entitled to a refund or replacement under this law.
A few factors generally outline a consumer’s success to use their state lemon laws, like:
- Legal representation by a seasoned lemon law attorney
- A thorough record of communication with the manufacturer and the dealership regarding the problems
- An accurate description of vehicle repair order forms that detail each issue and the steps taken to try and fix it
- Compliance with arbitration and notice requirements
Always check your state’s specific lemon laws to know if you do qualify for it.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
Consumers who buy a product above $25 that comes with a documented warranty are protected under this federal law. The law is designed to prevent manufacturers from unfairly burdening consumers with contracts.
The Act also removes financial barriers to filing a case against a car manufacturer by adding an attorney fee-shifting clause. This clause allows a consumer who wins a claim under the law to demand that the defendant pay their attorney costs.
The clause also permits a customer to sue the manufacturer for attorney costs.
The Uniform Commercial Code
Consumers can invoke the UCC in all fifty states, including the District of Columbia. The law pertains to signing contracts that involve the sale of goods, such as cars.
This law gives you the right to a replacement or refund. But, its disadvantage lies in its lack of definition.
If you’re going to pursue this route, the decision lies solely on the judge if you will be granted your claim or not.
There Are No “Right to Cancel” Car Purchases Under The FTC
While many consumers believe that the Federal Trade Commission protects car buyers with three days to back out under the “Right to Cancel” law, this is not the case.
Car buyers need to understand that this does not apply to new car transactions, only to purchases made from door-to-door salespeople or made outside of a seller’s place of business.
There Are No Federal or State “Right to Rescind” laws
To date, no federal laws are saying that buyers may return a new car. Every car purchase is final as soon as the contract is signed and you go and drive the vehicle.
There are no state-mandated rights to rescind your contract or return the car to the dealership due to a change of mind or buyer’s remorse.
The Dealer’s Point of View
Before even making a claim, put yourself in the shoes of the dealership. It can be advantageous to your case if you approach the case maturely and professionally.
Dealerships are often looking to foster long-term relationships with their clients so that they can get repeat business.
They might be able to place you with a lower-priced car in case of buyer’s remorse. However, keep in mind that unless there is a breach of contract, they are under no obligation to do so legally or morally.
Other Avenues To Consider
Here are some other routes to consider before returning your car:
You can sell it
It might get you out of owning a car you don’t like. Keep in mind that vehicles devalue as soon as you get them out of the lot.
It means that you might not be able to get the full amount you paid at the dealership. You might need to pay the difference between the original price and the buyer’s price.
You can ask for voluntary repossession
If you can’t make your monthly payments, you can call your lender and request a voluntary repossession.
Although this voids your monthly payments, your lender can still report this to credit bureaus. It can negatively impact your credit score, making future auto loans more expensive.
You can refinance your auto loan
If you feel like your monthly payments are too high, you can consider refinancing your auto loan with lower interest rates or longer terms to lower your monthly payment. This route won’t impact your credit score as voluntary repossession.
Avoiding Having To Return A Car
Suppose you want to avoid the stressful and, at times, expensive process of returning a car. In that case, you should properly prepare before purchasing a vehicle. It may involve:
- Reading reviews
- Researching market pieces
- Comparing auto loan rates
- Creating a budget
- Test driving
- Having a mechanic inspect the car to avoid lemons
You can also get prequalified for an auto loan to avoid being overcharged by the dealership’s financing department. It can also give you an idea of how much each monthly payment would be.
Can You Return Your Newly-Bought Car?
No matter how exciting buying a car may be, remember to do your research on the vehicle you’re planning to buy.
Make sure that you like the ins, outs, and prices so you won’t get stuck with a car you don’t like. Most dealerships won’t allow a change of mind or buyer’s remorse as grounds to return a vehicle.
If you find yourself unable to do so, check the laws that can help you, or you can sell it, ask for repossession, or refinancing the auto loan.
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