Can You Return the Car You Just Bought?

The Dealer’s Perspective

It’s helpful to understand the dealer’s point of view to reach an acceptable solution to this problem. Eleazer told Edmunds: “There is no problem that can’t be resolved when people take a mature approach. Dealerships really are looking for repeat business and make great strides to create an environment that promotes long-term relationships with their customer base.”

He added: “The best way to resolve these misunderstandings is to simply return to the dealership and ask to speak to the manager in a calm tone. Drama and shouting does not impress. Asking for help does.”

In cases of buyer’s remorse — perhaps if a person bought too much car for his or her budget — Eleazer said that the dealer might be willing to place the person in a vehicle with a lower purchase price. But dealers are “under no obligation to do so either legally or morally.”

If You Still Don’t Get Satisfaction

If your grievances are deep, or you have complained to the dealership to no avail, there are still a few things you can do. Obviously, you can hire a lawyer and sue the dealership. But this is costly and time-consuming. So let’s look at other options.

You can register a complaint against the dealership through local and state agencies. Go to the website for your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to see if there is a way to file a complaint.

Your state attorney general’s office is another place to look for information on how to file a complaint against a car dealership. The National Association of Attorneys General lists the state attorneys general and their offices’ websites. From there you can find information on laws and the complaint process.

Another avenue is the Better Business Bureau. Ideally, the time to check the dealership for consumer complaints is before you buy a car. The same goes for Edmunds’ Dealer Ratings & Reviews and other online reviews such as those posted on Google or Yelp. But after the fact, you might be able to get the BBB to bring some pressure on the dealership to resolve a dispute. Short of that, threatening to give a dealer a bad rating or review online, or on a manufacturer’s post-purchase survey, might carry some weight.

Avoid the Problem

While you might be able to pressure a dealership into taking a car back, it’s far better to avoid such difficulties in the first place. If you’re unfamiliar with the sales contract, ask to have it emailed to you before taking delivery. Even if the finance manager snaps a photo of the pricing page of the contract and emails or texts it to you as an image, it gives you a chance to review it and all the prices. Then, you can plug the numbers into the Edmunds calculators and make sure everything adds up correctly.

When the responses to your plea to unwind a deal are likely to be “no” or “maybe,” it’s best to never put yourself in the position of asking. Avoid the unwind bind by being a prepared car buyer who knows a car’s pricing, reads the sales contract carefully, and fully inspects the car before taking ownership.

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