Can You Rescind an Auto Purchase | Find Learn Save

How long do I have after a purchase to return the vehicle because of breach of contract?

How long do I have after a purchase to return the vehicle because of breach of contract?

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  • Learn about the common misconception of a "cooling off period."
  • Find what conditions a car sale contract can be voided.

Generally speaking, there is no time period during which you can return a vehicle and cancel the sale. The existence of this right, called a “cooling-off period,” is a common misconception among American consumers. Once you sign a purchase contract with a dealer, you are basically stuck with the car, unless you can prove that the dealer intentionally misled you about some aspect of the contract or vehicle, in which case you can sue the dealership and finance company in an attempt to have the contract voided. In real life, it is almost impossible to prove that a car salesman lied to you about a vehicle, as you likely have no written evidence to back up your claim. This type of case is basically your word against the dealer’s word, which makes proving wrongdoing very difficult. In addition, purchase agreements are usually written to favor the dealer, so establishing that the dealer breached the contract will likely be an uphill battle.

You will almost never find a dealership who will willing accept the return of a vehicle and the cancelation of a sale because the buyer alleges breach of contract or buyer’s remorse. If you believe that the dealership intentionally misled you about the terms of the contract or the condition of the vehicle, you can sue to have the contract voided, but proving these allegations will be difficult. I encourage you to seek the advice of an attorney if you feel that you may have a case against a dealership for breach of contract. An attorney licensed in your state will be able to advise you of the strengths and weaknesses of you case, and whether filing a lawsuit is appropriate.

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  • M
    michael pringle,
    Sep, 2020

    I have a question about Capital One Auto Finance. I just noticed raised the interest rate on my loan. Is that even legal? We agreed on already a high interest rate at 12.5 but has changed to 14.50. Do i have a case in breach of contract? Thank you.

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2020

      Michael, you need to review the language of the original agreement. If it doesn't include anything about changing the interest rate then Capital One Auto Finance would be acting in violation of the agreement. My guess is that there must be something that allows them to do this, because to do so without authority would expose them to legal action and they are a legitimate, large firm. Calling them and asking on what basis did they hike your rate is also an option.

  • P
    May, 2020

    Just purchased a 2017 vehicle, with a 4,000 downpayment. We were told there was a special deal where we would receive free maintenance for the first year, free oil change and tire rotation. Looking through itemized page which we were not shown during purchase shows a $875 prepaid maintenance charge. The 4,000 check has not been cashed if I cancel will this force financing to fall through. I want the car, but do not want charge. I am afraid if I wait and don't cancel check I will be stuck. But not sure if I could get in trouble for canceling.

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2020

      Pat, I can't give legal advice, as only an attorney can properly do so. Here are a couple of thoughts, with the understanding that I am not giving you legal advice.

      I don't think not cashing the check is going to void the deal, necessarily, as you agreed to the terms of the agreement. A first step is to speak to the manager on the lot and say that they didn't disclose to you the terms and had you known, you would not have purchased the vehicle. See what they say.

      Speak with an attorney about canceling the check before you do, as it could be deemed bad faith on your part, if you do this unilaterally.

  • H
    Apr, 2020

    I purchased a new vehicle with the understanding I was purchasing GAP at the time of the sale. The cost of GAP is listed in my purchase agreement and I have the GAP contract as well. I received a letter saying that the GAP I purchased was could not be put into effect into their system. If they do not honor the GAP I purchased when I purchased the vehicle, would that be a breach of contract on the dealerships behalf? Would that give me grounds to return the vehicle and void the sales contract? Would the dealership then have to refund my down payment?

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2020

      Your questions are all reasonable and clear, so I regret that I can't answer them. One reason is that you are asking for legal advice and only a lawyer can properly give legal advice. 

      Another reason is that there are a number of facts that are not clear from your question. Was the GAP something the finance company told you that you need to get? Who gave you the understanding that you were getting the GAP coverage?

      I recommend you speak with the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection to see if you get any answer or to a lawyer who can examine your paperwork and, with an understanding of your applicable state laws, offer a clear answer.


  • CM
    Apr, 2017
    Upon finalizing a lease of a new car, we opted to purchase (or add via the Due Bill) an additional alarm system. We opted to add this due to the fact the finance lady said it would save us money on our car insurance (friday evening). Monday morning we called our insurance to add the car and inquired on the additional savings as mentioned by the dealership...they said there are no additional savings as we already have an Anti Theft discount. Question is: Can we rescind this Due Bill purchase of the "extra alarm?" Alarm has not been installed by the dealer and dealer has not called to set up an appointment (monday)
    • 35x35
      Apr, 2017

      The first step is to speak with the dealer about voiding the purchase of the alarm system, but keep in mind that there is an additional benefit to the alarm aside from the discount that did not materialize. It protects your car.

      However, if you feel you were given false information that caused you to make a purchase you would not have made otherwise, then explain that to the dealer. Perhaps they will agree. If not, go on their Facebook page and Twitter account and request that they assist you. If still no assistance is forthcoming, complain to the Consumer Protection Division of your state's Office of the Attorney General.

  • AG
    Dec, 2014

    Great article. Thanks for the info, it’s easy to understand.