Dear Consumer Ed:

I purchased a vehicle from a used car dealership.  The day after I bought it, the car wouldn’t start.  I immediately contacted the dealer and asked for my money back, but they said the purchase was “as-is”, and the sale was final.  Don’t I have a 3-day right to cancel?

Consumer Ed says:

Unfortunately, no.  While you may have some recourse under other laws, the Door-to-Door Sales Rule, commonly known as the “three-day right to cancel”, does not apply to car purchases.  Generally, any rights you may have with respect to the purchase of a used vehicle are limited to the terms in the sales contract; if the contract specifies that the car is being sold “As Is”, and makes no provision for cancellation or repairs, you will most likely end up having to keep and pay for the repairs of your defective automobile. 

Don’t rely on verbal agreements, as they can be very difficult to prove.  If a dealer makes promises, particularly concerning repairs or warranties, be sure to get them in writing before you buy the car.

A used car may look great on the outside but have serious mechanical problems that only a professional can detect. So it is essential to check out the vehicle thoroughly before you buy it.  Don’t sign anything before having the car inspected by a reputable mechanic, (who is not affiliated with the seller).  The cost for a pre-purchase inspection is typically between $50-$100, but can save you thousands down the line.

Finally, you can uncover important information about the vehicle’s condition by running a vehicle history report through autocheck.com or carfax.com.  These reports can reveal odometer discrepancies, accident history, and whether the car was salvaged or flood-damaged. 

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