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Having Used Car Problems? Read On.

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedAug 26, 2007
Key Takeaways:
  • Vehicle purchase agreements do not include a cooling-off period.
  • State lemon laws deal with vehicles still under the manufacturer warranty.

Is there a way to get out of a bad car deal and not having to damage my credit?

I just got into a really bad deal recently. I'm financing an 02 Mazda 626 at 15.50% and my payoff is around $11,000 and the car has tons of problem and it is only been a month. I just want to know if there is any ways to get out of this and not having to damage my credit.

Frequently consumers who have purchased a used car soon realize that the vehicle’s mechanical condition is not as impeccable as the dealer led them to believe. Unfortunately, you usually cannot return the vehicle and expect to receive a refund of the purchase price.

Generally speaking, automobile purchase agreements do not include a "cooling-off" or return period, so the dealership will likely not allow you to return the vehicle for a refund your money. However, since you are experiencing mechanical problems with the vehicle, federal and state law may provide you some protection. The first thing you should do, if you have not already done so, is contact the dealership that sold you the vehicle, to explain the problems you are experiencing and to ask what the dealership will do to repair the vehicle. Since you purchased the vehicle 30 days ago, hopefully the car is still under some sort of warranty, even if it is only a short-term warranty provided by the dealership. If the car is still under warranty, the dealership should repair it at little or no cost to you. If the dealership refuses to repair the vehicle despite the warranty, or if the vehicle is not covered by a warranty, you should research your state’s "lemon law" to find what recourse is available to you. Lemon laws are a type of state law designed to prevent consumers from being stuck with a vehicle with persistent problems.

Most state lemon laws deal with vehicles that are still under manufacturer warranty. However, many states also include a provision to protect consumers who have purchased used vehicles. Visit to find if your state’s lemon law applies to used vehicles, and if so, what protections it provides.

If you find that your purchase is covered by your state’s lemon law, but the dealership continues to refuse to repair or replace the vehicle, you should contact your state Attorney General’s consumer protection division to discuss the options available to you. You may also want to consult with an attorney to discuss your legal rights and the legal recourse available to you. Even if your state’s lemon law does not apply to used vehicles, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for fraud if the dealership misrepresented mechanical condition of the vehicle. Again, you should consult with an attorney familiar with consumer protection law to discuss the legal options available to you.

I wish you the best of luck in resolving the issues you are experiencing with your vehicle.

I hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.




LLorrain, Mar, 2014
My son bought a 2007 ford focus, March 11,2014. He took it to Midas for an oil change, they said it was leaking oil. the serptine belt was wore out. He brought it to my mechanic and he said it was leaking oil bad. so bad that he couldn't tell where it was coming from. The dealership replaced the power steering pump and it wasn't new. Plus Midas said the car had a torn boot. There is a 30 day warranty, can we take it back.
BBill, Mar, 2014
Lorrain: Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience to learn what, if any, recourse you have. In the meantime, you mentioned a 30-day warranty. I suggest you take advantage of that and return the vehicle to the dealer immediately to repair the defects you mentioned.

Other readers: Lorrain's experience is a cautionary tale of what happens when you do not hire a mechanic to inspect a vehicle before you buy it. A competent mechanic would have spotted the worn belt, leaking oil, bad steering pump, and torn CV boot in minutes, and probably would have advised Lorrain to not accept delivery of the vehicle until these items were repaired.
jjessica, Mar, 2014
I purchased a 04 Kia Optima from a small auto dealer. I was told all vehicles get serviced before going on the lot. My husband checked the fluids before leaving the lot and noticed there was almost no oil in the car so we had get that plus a week later CV shaft axle went out had to pay half the repair and having more mechanical issues and seen Kia Optmia 01-04 has recalls. I was later told the car got inspected and repaired by auto dealer mechanics, but he said they don't release that information to the buyer. I feel like I was lied to and there's some type of fraud there but I need advice.
BBill, Mar, 2014
Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience. He or she will read the purchase contract you signed, review the repairs you've paid for, and discuss your options.
kkhali, Feb, 2014
I bought a Nissan dec 14, 2103 in Cobb county. When I bought the car I asked for the emissions test. The dealer took the the car that day to get one. The next day I was taking the car to have the oil changed and realized it was for a nissan sentra. I then had the emissions done again. It failed. I went back to the dealer and told him I wanted my money back it did not pass the emissions test. He told me no, I stopped the check for the remainder of the money that I gave him he then agreed to repair the car. I took it to his mechanic on the 20th of Dec to have repairs and then took it to have the emissions test done it passed. As soon as I left the parking lot the ses light came back on it was the same problem they claimed to have fixed. I went back to the dealer again & said I wanted my money back since I paid him thinking he would do what he said. He told me no it was my problem, and all I needed was an ignition coil.I paid 1,000 to have the ignitions coils and engine valve replaced. The problem still persisted. I took it to the nissan dealer and found out that I need a new engine. It is now Feb. I have been spending money on this car ever since I bought it can I take the dealer to court to get my money back for the car and repairs since it technically was sold without a valid emissions test.
BBill, Feb, 2014
Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience. He or she will be able to answer your question about cancelling the contact due to the lack of or invalidity of the emissions test.
MMaria, Jan, 2014
I bought a used 2004 honda civic in april 2013, from a small dealer in NY with a 4 month warranty. Now the first thing is that when i looked up the car online it said the car had 94,000 miles on it. I did a Car fax on the vehicle and it looked a little weird to me because on the car fax it said the car was at 194,000 miles. But I was still interested, and went to go test drive it anyway. I loved the car everything looked okay to me. Made a guy an offer and he sold me the car. Then I noticed on the title the car mileage was marked down as 96,000 miles, so 3 different odometer readings for this car. At the time i thought it was a miss type. A few months later I was having transmission problems to where the car wasn't even shifting or moving. I check under my hood and was low on transmission fluid, So I put some in and called the dealer I got the car fixed because it was still under warranty and they said the problem was the dipstick was loose so I was losing fluid. They fixed the problem by replacing the dipstick and flushing out the transmission fluid and filled it back up. It was good, until I noticed sometimes my car would have trouble shifting here and there. Then at the end of November 2013 my check engine light came on. I thought it was for something minor, so I waited till now January 2014 and finally had it checked out. I had way too much transmission fluid in there, and apparently I need to replace the entire transmission. what should i do?
BBill, Feb, 2014
I assume you're asking if you have any recourse against the dealer for selling you a car with a rolled-back odometer. You mentioned New York. Consult with a New York lawyer who has consumer law experience to learn if you have a cause of action against the dealer. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact one of the many New York pro bono programs to get no-cost legal advice.
SSusan, Dec, 2013
We bought a 1988 Chevy truck from a car lot and before buying it we were concerned about the oil pressure gauge was jumping up and down so we asked about it the dealer said it was only because it was a old truck and was normal! So we asked for a warranty! They gave us a ninety day warranty!! Three weeks later we took it to a mechanic to have it checked because it was drinking oil!! They said motor was shot and needed a new one! We called the car lot they looked it over said they were going to put a motor in it!! They did telling us it would cost us 250.00 deductible!! I asked several times for the rental car that was covered on the warranty but he avoided the question!! Two weeks later they said motor was in and we could pick up truck!! In this time I started recording all conversations ! I had asked him about the new motor and how many miles it had on it!! He said 140,000 and it would have a 6 month warranty! When I got there he said he had to do more work on it so it would be 500.00 I refused and he stated he didn't turn it into warranty place because it would of taken much longer!! After lots of arguing I finally agreed to give him 350.00 in which he agreed only because it was holidays and he's a good man!! Got home w truck and oil was pouring out of motor! I did a search on the vin for motor and found it has 279,000 miles on it!! I have recorded him saying it only has 140,000 isn't it illegal for them to lie about mileage!! It's been one lie after another!
BBill, Dec, 2013
It's pretty clear someone rolled-back the odometer on the truck, which is illegal in all states. Contact your state attorney general's office to learn what steps you need to take to rescind this purchase.

I realize what I am about to write will not be helpful to you now, but for the benefit of other readers, always have a mechanic of your choosing inspect a used vehicle before buying. Run a Carfax report to learn if it's a flood vehicle, on a salvage title, or had its odometer tampered with. The more you know about a vehicle before you buy it, the less likely you will be surprised later.