You can have a kidney stolen when you stay in a hotel, Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen and will be defrosted someday, and you have three days to return a car after you purchase it. Those are three of the most popular Urban Legends that have been going around for many years.
Laws vary from State to State, but when it comes to car purchases, there is no “cooling off” period, even in consumer-friendly California. Once you agree to purchase a car, and sign the papers, you are immediately the owner of an automobile.
There are a lot of reasons people get buyer’s remorse. Many times, they just made too fast a decision and a few days later they realize it, and wish they could have a “do over.” Some dealerships offer a return policy, many of them with no questions asked, for varying periods of time, usually 3 to 7 days. The huge majority of dealerships do not offer this, and the ones that do, usually have restrictions.
A lot of people realize they bought the wrong vehicle for their needs. In other cases, people over-extended themselves and agreed to a higher payment than they can afford. I have seen cases where a spouse bought a car on their own, and the other spouse went crazy and demanded they take it back, which in most cases, can’t be done, and finally I’ve seen cases where people have an early problem with a car and want to return it. This is most common with used car purchases.
The hardest case to get out of is when you wake up and realize you overpaid for a car. I’ve seen cases where people have bought cars and then found their exact car online for less. In some states, this is illegal. In other states, they take the stand that you should have done your homework in advance.
The thing you need to realize is, if you find yourself in the position of having buyer’s remorse, the dealership is not obligated to do anything to help, so don’t go in with an attitude, or guns blazing. Some dealers will listen to you and try to help if you have a legitimate reason for wanting out of the deal, but time is of the essence. The sooner you speak to your dealer, the better your chances are of getting out of the deal.
If you wait very long at all, the dealer may have sent the paperwork to get the car registered in your name, and that really complicates things. Once titled, a new car must be sold as used, and the dealer will suffer a substantial loss when they sell it. This makes them less likely to take the car back.
All this can generally be avoided if you realize that all sales are final. Think of it as buying a house. Nobody would think of going to close on a house, signing the mound of paperwork required, taking the keys, and then saying “I changed my mind”. Buying a vehicle is the same scenario.
This can be avoided, too, if you just take your time making the decision. The allure of a new car is strong and it is easy to get caught up in that. Just think it through and don’t succumb to pressure. If something doesn’t feel just right, consider sleeping on it, to make sure you are doing the right thing.
Good car dealers do not want you to have buyer’s remorse, they actually want you to be satisfied with your purchase. If you buy from a bad dealer, they don’t care about your sob story, especially if they made a lot of money on you.
Before you sign papers for a car, take a deep breath, and make sure you are doing the right thing. It will save you a world of grief and years of unhappiness.