When it comes to consumer protections for car buying, the USA has very seller-centric laws. In most cases after you have purchased the vehicle, you’re simply out of luck if you don’t want it anymore. However, it does depend on where you live.
Automotive Purchasing Laws Are Local
One thing that is difficult about the laws surrounding car purchases is that most of the laws are local in nature. Each state in the USA has a different rule. Other countries offer various levels of consumer protection that may be more or less than in the USA.
Check Your Lemon Laws
Every state has some form of lemon law, so make sure you know it before you start your purchasing process. Knowing it is going to help you ensure that you really check out every car and seller before you make your purchase. In most cases, if you can prove the car is a lemon within 30 days of purchase, you may be able to get your money back. Having said that, you’re likely going to have to deal with arbitration since most dealer contracts force you to sign an arbitration agreement.
Lemon Laws Don’t Apply to Private Sellers
When you buy from a private seller who is not a dealer (and that can be disputed if they sell a lot of cars), you generally have no right to get your money back even if the car breaks down the next day. For this reason, always take the vehicle to your own mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection before buying.
There Is No Three-Day Rule with Cars
Many people think that they have three days to change their mind on buying a car they’ve signed a contract on and left with. However, this is not true. As mentioned, there are some rules about lemons, though, so it’s essential to read about lemon laws to ensure that your situation matches.
Federal Automotive Buying Rules and Regulations
There are many regulations that the federal government places on dealers that don’t apply to private sellers. For example, in most cases, a dealer must disclose information about the car regarding potential defects and pre-purchase inspections, and they must warn you that anything spoken and not written isn’t legally binding. They must disclose warranty information and other information to you as well.
Only two states in the USA offer consumer protections that are stronger than the federal laws on the subject. Wisconsin and Maine offer comprehensive used car purchaser protections that help.
Make sure you read up on your local laws. The primary protection you have is doing your due diligence before purchase to ensure that you are buying a car that works from a person who is acting honestly.