Car buyers: the 3-day grace period is just a myth!

Say you buy a used car from a dealership and want to return it later for a refund. Do you have the legal right to get your money back for any reason? Does the “three-day cooling-off period” apply?

That’s what “Mack” thought.

“I looked under the seats and found drug paraphernalia!”

“I bought a used SUV two days ago and want to take it back to the dealership for a refund, but when I told them why they laughed at me and refused,” Mack told me during from a call recently.

When I asked if there was a mechanical problem with the vehicle, he replied: “No, it drives well, but it’s what I found under the front seats that scares me: a piece of dangerous drug.” His tone of voice grew more strident as we spoke.

And what was he looking for under the front seats?

“For money or jewelry sometimes it ends up there, but instead I found vaping gear! It’s illegal ! I don’t know what other illegal items are in the car, and I want my money back! Also, don’t I have three days to terminate the contract?

I explained to Mack that while there is a three-day cooling-off rule, in most cases — including this one — it doesn’t apply to car purchases. And besides, in his state, the mere possession of vaping gear is not illegal. Unless he has the right to return the car for a refund – specified in the sales contract – the dealer could decline his request.

Car buyers shouldn’t believe the 3-day myth

“There is a mythical three-day return period on cars,” points out Michigan Lemon Law attorney and author Steve Lehto. He is also the host of the very informative YouTube channel “Lehto’s Law”. “Even if it doesn’t exist, people are still convinced that they can return a car within three days for any reason. This right does not apply to motor vehicle transactions.

The three-day cooling-off period rule is designed to protect consumers from high-pressure sales tactics closer to door-to-door sales or sales from a seller’s temporary location, such as a hotel room , a fairground, a restaurant or a convention. center, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

So Mack is out of luck here.

Lehto’s advice for anyone looking for a used car

I asked him to list the steps anyone looking for a used car should take to reduce the risk of ending up with a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

1. Research is the most important thing you can do before taking a test drive.

The price, based on your location, vehicle model, mileage and equipment, can be searched online for free using a car’s VIN. Simply type in the VIN and sites such as the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), or will tell you the year of the car, if there are any open recalls and other data that should influence your decision to buy this.

2. Inspect the car yourself. Check for leaks!

Check the oil, radiator coolant level and color to make sure it is clean and uncontaminated. If the seller allows you, look at the brake fluid and transmission fluid, checking for leaks. Gasoline, brake fluid, transmission fluid, steering fluid, engine coolant – none of this should ever leak out of the car!

However, in a car with the air conditioning on, water drips from the condenser and this is normal.

3. Spring for the expert opinion of a mechanic.

If you are serious about buying the car, spend the money to have a mechanic check the car out before you buy it. Most mechanics like to do inspections. They put the car on a hoist, do their inspection, drive it around the block and tell you if they found anything. It will be money well spent.

Don’t put yourself in the position of buying the car only to find out a few days later that something is wrong so what take it to a mechanic.

4. Complete a thorough, hands-on test drive.

Don’t just drive it around the parking lot or around the block. Test drive the car as you normally would. Take it out on the road, up to your local speed limit. Does it vibrate? Does it make weird noises? Does it drive straight? If not, this is one of the most obvious signs of a real problem. Does it pull to one side?

Maybe it’s the tires. Maybe it’s the alignment. It could be a twisted unibody.

5. While you are testing the car, check everything.

The radio, air conditioning, heating and spending time in broad daylight. Never let them rush you! Never buy a used car overnight, as you could easily miss body damage or scratches.

6. Never shop alone.

Don’t get sucked into thinking the salesman knows something about the car! It probably happened to them two days ago. You should check this yourself or with the help of a knowledgeable friend or family member.

7. Be very careful with third-party extended warranties.

Many are scams. If you want a warranty, those that come from the manufacturer are usually much better.

Concluding our conversation, Lehto cautioned, “Don’t fall in love with a pretty face! There are plenty of good used cars out there, and you will find another.

Blackmail threats didn’t pay off for our car buyer

So what happened to our car buyer, Mack? He didn’t appreciate the answer I gave him and got angry.

“Unless they give me my money back. I’ll bashing them online and picketing their showroom! ” He shouted.

“Mack, I say in a tone that leaves no doubt about my seriousness, it’s blackmail, and when we hang up, I call the dealer to warn him of your threats. So, say to the wise, forget these ideas.

He didn’t like that statement, not at all. “How can you do that?” He cried. “This conversation is protected by attorney-client privilege!” »

“Mack, we haven’t established an attorney/client relationship,” I replied calmly. “Simply calling a lawyer and explaining your planned and unlawful conduct does not create a professional relationship, and the lawyer may even be required to report the conversation to the appropriate people, including law enforcement. “

And that’s precisely what I did, informing the dealer. Fortunately, Mack took my advice and backed down from his threats. He returned to the dealership with his tail between his legs to retrieve the SUV he had tried to return, and his grandfather accompanied him to apologize for his 25-year-old grandson’s behavior and soon 12 years.

Case closed, lesson learned.

Lawyer at the bar, author of “You and the Law”

After attending law school at Loyola University, H. Dennis Beaver joined the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in California, where he established a consumer fraud section. He is into the general practice of law and writes a column in a syndicated newspaper, “You and the Law”. Through his column, he offers free help to readers who need down-to-earth advice. “I know it sounds corny, but I love being able to use my education and experience to help, just to help. When a reader contacts me, it’s a gift.”

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