Can You Cancel a Car Purchase

"Can you cancel a car purchase?" is a common question if you're feeling buyer's remorse. According to an urban legend, a buyer can return a car within three days of purchase with no questions asked. While a cooling off rule exists for some purchases, it does not cover automobiles. So, unfortunately, you probably won't be able to return your car.

What is the cooling off period, then?
The Federal Trade Commission enacted a rule that consumers can break a contract on the sale of certain items and circumstances within three days with no penalties or consequences. Many people mistakenly assume that this means every contract is eligible to be broken; however, the cooling off period applies under specific conditions.

What types of sales contracts get a cooling off period?
The cooling off rule applies to sales made at a home sales or door-to-door presentations, as well as to contracts signed while at a hotel, a motel or a conference room. In other words, if you enter into a sales contract at a location that is not at the seller's primary place of business, the government feels that you may be exposed to a high-pressure sales tactic, which gives you a chance to cool off, or change your mind.

What contracts are exempt?
Sales of automobiles, including cars, motorcycles, trucks and vans, are exempt from the cooling off period. When you are buying a car, it is likely that you are at a car lot, or a primary place of business, and you cannot change your mind once the transaction has been made.

Other areas of exemption from the cooling off rule include sales contracts for products under $25, transactions done entirely by mail, products sold at fairs or markets and repairs or maintenance. Real estate transactions are also exempt.

Is there any way to get out of a car purchase?
You do have options for getting out of a car sales contract. You will need to prove that auto fraud took place, or you will need to look for wording in the contract that allows consumers a set time limit to return the vehicle with no questions asked. However, claiming that there is a three-day rule to change your mind on a car purchase is simply not true.

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