Educational Consumer Tips

Used Car Sales

Author: Better Business Bureau

A new law, which took effect July 1, 2006, affects retail vehicle sales handled by licensed car dealers in California. With this new law, a used car buyer may obtain a two-day sales contract cancellation option. The contract cancellation option does not apply to used cars priced at $40,000 or more, new cars, private party sales, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, recreational vehicles, or vehicles sold for business or commercial use.

Unless you obtain a contract cancellation option, when you buy a car, there is no cancellation or grace period. All new cars and some used cars are sold with a product warranty ensuring you protection for service problems; however there is no protection for "buyer's remorse". Dealers must provide an itemized price list for items such as warranties and insurance, etc., if the items are being financed.

Most used cars are sold "AS IS" which means the dealer may legally have no further responsibility for the car once the sale is complete and you drive off the lot, except for certain safety items and cases of fraud or misrepresentation. So you better be sure you really want and can afford any car purchase before you sign on the dotted line.

And it's always a good idea to have your mechanic inspect any car before you purchase it. The only time you have three days to change your mind is with door-to-door sales or those which take place away from the seller's normal place of business. However, if the seller is aware that the consumer intends to obtain financing through a third party and the consumer fails to obtain financing, the contract or purchase order shall be deemed rescinded and all consideration shall be returned by the respective parties without demand, including any trade-ins taken by the company.

For more information on purchasing a used car, contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles at 800-777-0133 or online at