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Thanks But No Thanks: Giving a Car Back

When a car has reoccurring problems that go beyond minor annoyances or inconveniences, the owner may have a right to return the car (also known as “revocation of acceptance”).  This blog post explains some of the situations that may entitle a buyer to give back a car. 1.   The problems must be big problems The problem with the car must be the type that significantly interferes with your use or enjoyment of the car.  As a general rule,, if the defect is the type of problem that would greatly reduce the value of the car (i.e. how much a reasonable person would pay for it), then the defect is significant. 2.   You must not have known about the problem, or you must have bought the car assuming that the problems would be fixed. You may be able to give back a car with major problems in two situations: if you bought the car assuming the seller would fix the problems, or if you did not know about the problems at the time you bought the car. 

a.  You assumed the seller would fix the problems

If, before you bought the car, you had a conversation with the seller about fixing the problems, this may apply.  If the seller later refuses to make the repairs, or is unable to fix the problem, then you may be entitled to give the car back.  This situation will usually not apply, however, if you did not discuss repairs prior to sale.

 

b.  You did not know about the problems

This situation applies to two different types of sales:  when the problem is the kind that is hard to discover (engine problems that only happen sometimes, for example) and when the seller makes misrepresentations about the car, or takes steps to hide problems from you.  In both situations, you would be entitled to give the car back, if conditions 1 and 3 are also met.

 3.  You must return the car within a “reasonable time.” There is no set period of time for how long you have to return a car.  Often, it depends on the circumstances. We have had some clients that have returned their cars well over a year after they bought them.   However, if you’ve known about a problem with the car for a long time before trying to give it back, it is possible that it is too late.   The biggest exception to this is when you’ve continued to bring the car in for repairs, relying on the seller’s statements that the problems would be fixed.  In that case, the  law is a bit more forgiving. 4.  Fraud or Misrepresentation A consumer may also have the right to return the car if there was significant fraud or some misrepresentation about the car, its history, or contract terms.  If you have discovered that the car dealer lied to you about something, you might be able to return the car to the dealership. Car dealers will usually refuse to take back cars, even when they are required to do so.  It is usually best to consult with an attorney in these types of cases.  A lawyer will be able to evaluate the facts and determine whether you are entitled to return your car.  Additionally, a lawsuit may be necessary in order to get a refund of the money you paid.  

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