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Auto | Buying and Selling a Car
Can You Return a Car You Just Bought?


We've all made questionable purchases on a whim or been overcome with excitement about a product only to get it home and say, "What was I thinking?" Unfortunately, buyer's remorse is a real thing. While it can be relatively harmless when you're talking about small purchases like a dress or a pair of shoes you've had your eye on for months, it's much more of a financial strain when you're talking about things like a home or a new car.

So, what about vehicle purchases? Can you return a car? If so, how long do you have to return a new car?

The answer is complicated, but in almost all cases, once you've signed the sales paperwork for a new car, it's yours to keep.

While there are some exceptions to this rule, for example if the car doesn't perform as promised or is defective, even in these instances, there can be several hoops to jump through before you get your money back. While there are "lemon laws" designed to protect buyers from purchasing cars with hidden issues, often a dealership or seller will be given chances to repair or fix the issue before a refund can be given. In fact, to qualify under the lemon law for a refund, a vehicle must receive official "lemon" status before it qualifies, and the buyer will be expected to make payments as usual while this process plays out.
Returning Car
There is also a that is designed to protect consumers from aggressive sales tactics, but this typically only applies to home purchases. Under this law, consumers are allowed to cancel certain purchases within three days, but the criterion for applying this law is strict and doesn’t cover auto purchases.

Once the final paperwork is signed, the vehicle is yours, however this will vary depending on the state where you bought the car and the dealership you purchased from.

If you decide on returning a financed car within 30 days, you can usually return the vehicle to the lender under a “voluntary repossession.” Even within 30 days, doing this comes with its own setbacks. In fact, if at any point you decide you cannot or will not be able to make monthly payments on your loan, you can consider voluntary repossession, but it will certainly ding your credit score and go on reports to future lenders should you decide to finance another vehicle. Additionally, voluntary repossession will leave you on the hook for any fees. You will also be expected to pay the difference between your loan amount and whatever the lender is able to sell your returned vehicle for to another customer.

In the end, the best way to avoid returning an unwanted vehicle is to not make the purchase in the first place unless you're 100% sure you're ready to buy. Read all the fine print and all the paperwork before signing it and, if you have any doubts or need reassurance that you'll be able to return the vehicle if you don't like it, be sure to negotiate and have this verbiage added to your sales contract.