Purchasing a new car is usually a big investment for most people. It involves a lot of thought, a great deal of research, and a significant amount of money. Therefore, it is essential to be well-informed about the terms and conditions that govern the purchase and ownership of a new car. One question that often arises is, what is the law about returning a new car? In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about the legal aspects of returning a new car.

What is a Lemon Law?

When we talk about the law surrounding returning a new car, the term “Lemon Law” often comes up. A Lemon Law is a legal provision that offers protection to consumers who unknowingly purchase vehicles with substantial defects that affect the safety, value, or use of the vehicle.

The main purpose of a Lemon Law is to provide a remedy to customers who purchase defective or non-conforming cars. It is important to note that all states in the United States have their own version of the Lemon Law, which can differ from state to state.

When can you Return a New Car?

The law surrounding returning a new car mainly depends on the terms and conditions agreed upon in the purchase contract. Typically, most new car sales contracts will not allow you to return the car once you sign the contract and drive it off the lot. However, some dealerships may offer a return policy, but those policies are typically quite restrictive.

The best time to return a new car is before you sign the purchase contract. If you are not satisfied with the car, it’s best to walk away and consider your options.

What are your Options if you Want to Return a New Car?

If you are not satisfied with your new car, you have a few options:

  • Request a repair: If your new car has an issue that is covered under the warranty, you can take it to the dealership for repair. The dealership will be required to fix the issue under the warranty.
  • Return the car within the cooling-off period: In some states, there is a “cooling-off period” that allows you to return the car for any reason within a specified number of days, typically ranging between 3 and 7.
  • Lemon Law: If the car you purchased is defective, then you may be protected by a Lemon Law in your state. You can consult with an attorney to explore your options under the Lemon Law.
  • Negotiate with the Dealer: If none of the options above work, you can try negotiating with the dealer to find a solution that satisfies both parties. This may involve exchanging the car for another car, or a reduction in price.

What are the Conditions for Returning a Car Under the Cooling-Off Period?

As mentioned earlier, some states have a cooling-off period that allows you to return the car for any reason within a specified period. The cooling-off period allows you to return the car without any penalties or fees, and the dealer will be required to refund your money.

It is important to note that the cooling-off period conditions vary from state to state, and not all states have this provision. In addition, the cooling-off period only applies to new cars, not used cars.

What are the Conditions for Returning a Car Under the Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law protects consumers who purchase a new car with substantial defects that cannot be repaired within a reasonable number of repair attempts. The conditions for returning a car under the Lemon Law are:

  • The car must have a substantial defect that affects the vehicle’s value, safety, or use.
  • The defect must not be repairable within a reasonable number of attempts.
  • You must have given the dealership a reasonable opportunity to repair the defect.
  • The car must have been purchased within a specific time frame, typically not more than two or three years old.


In conclusion, the laws surrounding returning a new car are crucial to understand before purchasing a new car. Before making the purchase, it is important to understand the terms and conditions in the sales contract, the dealership’s return policy, and the Lemon Law in your state. Additionally, consulting with an attorney who specializes in Lemon Law can be beneficial in knowing all the legal options available to you. Knowing your rights as a consumer can make the purchasing process more manageable and provide peace of mind.


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