Can I Change My Mind After Signing a Contract to Purchase a Vehicle?

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If you've changed your mind after agreeing to buy a car, you're often out of luck. A contact to purchase a vehicle is legally binding. Although you may have heard of a three-day "cooling-off" period that allows you time to change your mind after a purchase, it doesn't apply to cars in any state. However, if you're the victim of auto fraud or purchased a defective vehicle, you may be able to get out of the contract.


Buyer's Remorse Laws

Unfortunately, any laws covering buyer's remorse don't apply to cars. Once you've signed the contract, you own the car. If you want to return the car, you'll need to contact the car dealer to discuss returning the vehicle. However, dealers aren't obligated to take back cars unless they have specific policies allowing returns.

Contracts are not easily cancelled, especially if you took out an auto loan to pay for the car. You may face fees and penalties even if the dealer agrees to take it back. Before signing a contract, the Federal Trade Commission recommends asking dealers about their return policies. If there is a return policy, get it in writing.


Lemon Laws

The term "lemon" is often used to describe a car that has significant problems. The true meaning of the term is much more specific. A lemon is a car with a defect beyond repair. If your car has a defect covered under the warranty and can't be fixed within a reasonable number of attempts, you may be able to return the vehicle. Since each state has its own specific lemon laws, the number of required repair attempts can vary. Remedies for lemons differ among states, but may include a complete repurchase of the vehicle, including any taxes and finance fees.


Auto Fraud

If the dealer failed to disclose damage to the car or didn't adhere to the terms or clauses in the contract, you may be able to cancel based on fraud. Address the issue with the dealer and ask to cancel the contract. If you aren't able to reach a resolution, contact an attorney specializing in auto fraud.