Purchasing a car is a large decision emotionally and financially. Can you return a car you just bought? If you experience "buyer's remorse" or discover that the car you purchased from the dealership is faulty, exercise any return options in your contract to get your money back. Return clauses in vehicle purchase contracts are usually time sensitive, so contact the dealer immediately if you want to return the vehicle. Depending on your contract, and the laws in your state, the dealer may have the final say on any vehicle return.
State Lemon Laws
Can you return a car? Some states have laws to protect buyers from bad purchase, like New York. Review the lemon laws for your state to determine whether your car is a "lemon." Depending on your state, your car may be a lemon if serious mechanical problems cannot be fixed after multiple visits to the dealership. The National Lemon Law Center explains that you may also have rights under federal law.
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Small, non-critical mechanical problems or defects with your vehicle usually do not qualify it as a lemon under Lemon Laws. If your car is indeed a lemon, the dealership must take your vehicle back or face legal consequences. It is important to know what to do if scammed by car dealerships.
Read the return clause of your purchase contract. A dealership is not obligated to include a return clause in vehicle purchase contracts, but some dealerships may include a 24-hour return or even a three-day return policy. If you are returning the vehicle due to "buyer's remorse" and not mechanical problems, review the contract to verify that the return window is not restricted for any reason.
How to Return Car to Dealership
If you are returning a vehicle, first inspect your car and take pictures to prove that you are returning the car in the exact shape in which you bought it. The car should be free of any dirt, trash, dents or other blemishes that may hurt your case for returning the vehicle for a refund.
Then, drive your car to the dealer and discuss the possibility of returning your car. Honestly answer any questions the dealer asks about your reasons for returning the vehicle. Discuss refund possibilities and the next steps you have to take to return the vehicle.
If your car is a lemon, or there is a clause in your contract that allows returns, mention this to the dealer. The dealer may have to contact your bank if you financed your vehicle through a lender.
Troubleshooting the Return Process
Attempting to return a car should go smoothly, but not all dealerships are above-board. In addition, some salespeople or customer service representatives may not be familiar with their state's lemon laws. Contact a lawyer if the dealer refuses to honor your return agreement. A lawyer can begin the subpoena process and civil suit proceedings against a dealer on your behalf.
Your dealer may agree to accept the vehicle if he knows there is an impending case against the dealership. Keep constant communication with the dealer to avoid unnecessary legal battles. Whenever possible, document your conversations with the dealership to protect your best interests. Email or certified letters are a great way to accomplish this. Be sure to keep copies for your records.