What is the cooling off period for car purchase contracts?

Updated July 19, 2017

Buying a vehicle, like any other purchase, can be done impulsively. While many general purchases allow you to return or exchange the item once you've had time to think about it, purchasing a car is different.

Purchasing a New Car

There is no cooling period when purchasing a new car in the United States. When you buy a new vehicle and sign the contract, you are bound by it.

Purchasing a Used Car

Check with your state's policy on cooling periods, some have it and others don't. In California, for example, consumers may request a two-day sales contract cancellation option. Depending on the used-car dealer or seller, restrictions may apply.

Leasing a Car

Depending on the company, your leasing company may allow a cooling period. In New Jersey, you have a one-day cooling-off period to give you time to review the unsigned lease terms.

Companies' Policy

When you lease or purchase a vehicle, the company may have its own specific policy that's apart from the state's regulation. Before you sign the contract, be sure to ask them about a cooling-off period. For example, Saturn gives consumers up to 30 days or 1,500 miles to exchange their newly purchased car for another Saturn vehicle. CarMax offers buyers a five-day money-back guarantee on used car sales.

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About the Author

Tammy Hong is an experienced writer who has worked as the co-editor of the newsletter for psychology student's of the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. She has contributed to the writing and editing of newsletter articles, blogs, e-zines, website contents, research articles and academic papers.