Within hours of buying a car, you may realize that your purchase was a mistake. Despite what you might have heard about having three days to change your mind, it's not that simple in Ohio. The state provides no blanket right to return a car or other motor vehicle within three days, but you may be able to undo the transaction under limited circumstances. The rules concerning car returns are strict, and documentation must be in order.
Ohio, like many states, has what are commonly known as "buyer's remorse" or "three-day" laws. They allow consumers to undo, or rescind, certain transactions as long as they do so by a deadline. In Ohio, you have three days to change your mind about signing your child up for dance or karate lessons and 30 days to reconsider the purchase of a hearing aid, for example. Unfortunately, the law doesn't apply to motor vehicle purchases. Only California allows consumers to change their minds about car purchases, and strict requirements apply.
Grace Period and Buyer's Guide
Whether your car is new or used, review the contract you signed at the time you purchased the vehicle. Some Ohio car dealers include a grace period in their contracts, allowing the buyer to change her mind within a certain number of days following the sale.
If the vehicle is used, pay attention to the buyer's guide that was posted in the car at the time of purchase. Ohio car dealers are required to display the notice in every used car they offer for sale. It lets the buyer know whether or not the car has a warranty or whether it's sold "as is."
These arrangements must be in writing. The salesperson might promise a grace period or mention that a used car is under warranty, but you're likely out of luck if you don't have that arrangement in writing.
If you purchase a new car that has mechanical issues, it might qualify as a "lemon" under the Ohio "lemon law." This law has very specific requirements, and cosmetic imperfections and annoying quirks don't count. The car has to have one or more serious problems that can't be fixed, and the car dealer must have a reasonable opportunity to repair the car before you can attempt to reverse your purchase. The Ohio lemon law applies only to cars that are less than 1 year old or were driven fewer than 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
Perhaps the best way to ensure you don't get stuck with a car you don't want is to take your time shopping for a car and do plenty of research before making a purchase. If you are armed with knowledge about a car's true value, its mechanical condition and the exact terms of its warranty, you are less likely to make a purchase you'll end up regretting.
- Ohio Attorney General: Cancellation Rights of Consumers
- Nolo: Can I Cancel a Contract within Three Days of Signing It?
- Ohio Attorney General: Ohio Lemon Law: A Guide to Your Rights
- Summit County, Ohio, Office of Consumer Affairs; Buying a Used Car?; August 2006
- Nolo: Buying a New Car
- Nolo: Buying a Used Car