New cars are expensive purchases. When a buyer purchases a new car, he can generally expect to put down at least $20,000 for the vehicle. In addition, unlike many large purchases, once the buyer signs on the dotted line, he's stuck with it. While a car can be resold, a new car can be returned in a few cases.
According to Autos.com, it is a common misconception that a car new can be returned within three days of its purchase. While many state consumer protection do protect consumers who purchase a number of large products by giving them a period in which they can return the product for a full refund, this statute does not usually apply to cars.
Although uncommon, a contract could theoretically provide a consumer the option to return the car within a set period of time after the car has been purchased. However, these clauses are rare to nonexistent. According to the car reference website LeaseGuide.com, most car purchases are final once they have been signed by both the buyer and the seller.
According to Autos.com, a few states do offer consumers the chance to return their cars after they have been purchased. For example, in California, buyers do have a three-day period during which they can return the car, under certain conditions. Other states have lemon laws that protect the buyer in case the car is defective. Prospective consumers should check with their state department of consumer affairs for information on local regulations.
Most states do not allow returns on used cars for several reasons. First, a car generally will depreciate in value the more it is driven. Secondly, cars that have had previous owners, whether long-term, are not as valuable as new cars.
If the car cannot be returned, the buyer may be able to sell the car on the used car market. Although the car's mileage may be low, the car will generally fetch significantly less than a new car.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.