If you're having second thoughts about a new-car purchase, your options are limited. Federal law does not provide for a cooling-off period for car buyers, whether the car is used or new, nor does Florida law or any other state law. Returning a new car and cancelling a deal would become a negotiation between you and the dealer -- and in most cases would require some good salesmanship on your part.
Federal Cooling-Off Law
Federal law mandates a 72-hour, cooling-off period for sales closed in your home or anywhere that is not the usual place of business for the seller. In addition, for the cooling-off period to be in effect, the law requires a minimum purchase of $25 and does not apply at all to new-car purchases unless the seller does not have a permanent place of business. Also specifically exempted from this law are purchases of real estate, securities or insurance.
Florida does not grant car buyers a three-day, cooling-off period under any specific terms, but a buyer may contest a sale on the grounds that he was misled or defrauded. Generally, car dealers would not be willing to cancel a contract unless the buyer has very specific and serious grounds to do so. However, in the interest of good public relations and retaining a steady customer, a dealer might be willing to void the contract and accept the return of the car in unchanged, new condition.
The Law on Lemons
Like other states, Florida protects car buyers with a "Lemon Law," which is supposed to prevent the sale of defective or unsafe vehicles. To be covered by the law, a buyer must report the defect within the Lemon Law rights period of 24 months after delivery. The dealer or manufacturer must also make a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect. After three attempts, the buyer must notify the manufacturer in writing of a final opportunity to repair the vehicle; the manufacturer then has 10 days to send the consumer to an authorized repair facility. If the vehicle is not repaired within 10 days, the manufacturer must buy back the car and provide either a refund or a replacement. The Lemon Law does not extend to defects that result from accidents, neglect or alteration of the car. The Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board is established to mediate Lemon Law disputes.
Florida Deceptive Practices
Florida has consumer protection statutes, which apply to vehicle purchases and set out several acts as actionable, unfair or deceptive. For example, misrepresenting a car's repair history, mileage or condition are deceptive acts under the law. Dealers must disclose any manufacturer or dealer warranties in writing before selling the vehicle -- and may not allow a customer to sign an incomplete or inaccurate contract. Dealers also may not charge for pre-delivery services if they are reimbursed by the manufacturer, or fail to disclose damage to the vehicle if they know about it. Deceptive practices would provide grounds for contesting a new-car contract in court.
- Edmunds.com: Can You Return the Car You Just Bought?
- MyFloridaLegal.com: How to Protect Yourself: The Cooling-Off Rule
- MyFloridaLegal.com: How the Florida Lemon Law Works
- Federal Trade Commission: Protections for In-Home Purchases: The Cooling-Off Rule
- Florida Senate: 681.104 Nonconformity of MotorVehicles
- State of Florida: 501.976 Actionable, Unfair, or Deceptive Acts or Practices
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