Can You Return a Car You Just Bought?

If you are considering buying a new vehicle, it is worth researching if you can return a car after purchase because some buyers regret it. In most cases, you cannot return a car. However, some unique situations may qualify you for a replacement vehicle or refund.

Can I Return the Car I Just Bought?

Usually no. Merchants generally do not accept returns and are under no obligation to give you your money back once you have signed a sales contract.

You may have better luck returning a used car than a new one, but that depends on your situation.

When Can You Return a Car to a Dealership?

While a case of buyer remorse generally doesn't qualify you for a return, here are some situations where after buying a car, you can return it, get a refund, or get a replacement car:

  • You bought a lemon. "A car is called a "lemon" if it has at least one manufacturing defect that significantly affects its safety, value, or utility that you were unaware of before you bought it. Also, the dealer must have made several repair attempts that did not completely resolve the issues. For example, four repair attempts in Connecticut and New York are considered a reasonable number. Each state has its lemon laws, so you'll need to check the requirements for your state. Keep in mind that while these laws usually only apply to new cars, some states may also apply to used vehicles. If you think you've got a lemon in your hands, keep detailed records of repairs — including repair attempts and when — with copies of each repair invoice. It is needed to be proved that the car had defects before you bought it. Only then can the dealer agree to exchange the vehicle or give you a refund.

  • You have a right of withdrawal ."In some federal states, car dealers are legally obliged to offer a cancellation option for a purchase contract. For example, some states have a Bill of Rights, which is applied to purchases of new or used cars from licensed dealers and requires dealers to give buyers of used vehicles costing $40,000 or less a two-day cooling-off period. A retailer might describe this right of withdrawal as a "cooling off period," money-back guarantee, or "no questions asked" return policy. To qualify, you must usually return the car in the same condition you bought it, with your original papers. If you don't do this, the retailer may deny your request. You can ask your public prosecutor's office whether you have a right of withdrawal and the requirements.

  • Your dealer accepts returns. While most retailers don't have a return policy, some offer 7-day to 30 periods when you can return a new car. Before buying a car, ask about the possibility of returning a car to a dealership and about their return policy and get it in writing if they offer one.

Alternatives to Vehicle Return

What happens if you can return a car to a dealer if you no longer want the car you bought? You may have a few options.

Sell It

If you no longer want the car or can't afford it, you can sell your vehicle or trade it for a less expensive one. Websites such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and NADA can help determine the car's fair market value. But remember, cars start depreciating as soon as you drive them out of the parking lot, so you probably won't get back the total price paid.

In the case of financing your purchase, selling the car can be more difficult. You must repay the remaining loan balance before the sale so the vehicle can be transferred to another owner. You have to pay the difference if you sell the car for less money than rent.

Refinance Your Loan

If you're looking to return your car because you can't afford to make the monthly payments, you should first consider refinancing your car loan. You can reduce your monthly payment with a lower interest rate or longer term. Remember, if you prolong the loan term, you can pay more interest over the life of the loan.

Have It Voluntarily Repossessed

If you can't afford your payments and can't sell your car or refinance your loan, contact the lender to discuss an alternative payment plan or voluntary redemption options. If you agree to repossess the vehicle voluntarily, you may not be responsible for paying the repossession costs you would likely have to pay if the lender repossesses it.

But you're responsible for paying the difference between what the lender can sell the car for and what you owe on credit. To make matters worse, your lender can report the repossession to the credit bureaus. This can negatively influence credit scores and credit reports for up to seven years. Voluntary redemption should be your last resort if you can't make car payments.


Car dealers are usually not obliged to return a car to you. Usually, it is up to the merchant's policy (unless otherwise required by law).

Just don't forget to check all possible problems before you start buying a process to prevent you from going through a situation where you must return a car after purchase.

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