Dear Attorney Zeigler, I am assisting my mother with purchasing a car. I was doing some research and came across your article “How Can I protect myself when buying a used car.” I discussed the rules mentioned in your article with my mother. She told me that if the dealership wouldn’t let her take it to a mechanic, then she would purchase the car, have it inspected and, if necessary, return it within three days. When I asked her what she meant, she said that the law gives her three days to return the car. That doesn’t sound right to me. If we try it, is it hard to return the car? Thank you, L.K.P.
Thank you for reading the article! I didn’t discuss this myth in the Buying a Used Car post. I am always surprised when consumers tell me they plan to return the car in 3 days if the car starts having problems. Return? Consumers are skeptical when I tell them that there is no 3-day right to cancel a car purchase.
It appears that many consumers are confused by the Federal Trade Commission Rule entitled the Cooling-Off Rule. The Cooling-Off Rule gives buyers a 3-day right to cancel a sale made at your home, workplace or dormitory, or at a seller’s temporary location, like a hotel or motel room or a restaurant. It also applies to sales presentations given in your home. This rule specifically excludes automobiles even when the sale is made at a temporary location, so long as the seller has at least one permanent place of business. Since the Cooling-Off Rule excludes automobiles, you have no legal right to “return” a car within 3 days of purchase.
Unless you have it in writing from the dealer that you can return the car within a certain number of days, you cannot simply return a used car. Please let your mother know that once she purchases a car in Georgia, there is no rule that gives her the right to return it within 3 days. This is why it is so important to make a decision carefully when purchasing a car. Good luck on your search!