Can I Return a Car I Bought From a Private Seller?

When life gives you lemons, it’s tempting to want to ask for a refund. Because all types of businesses offer a return policy, you may be asking, “Can I return a car I bought from a private seller?” Unfortunately, this is rarely possible. Learn why you can’t usually ask for a return and the steps to take to avoid or resolve this frustrating situation.

Why You Can’t Return a Car To a Private Seller

As long as your seller has made a good faith effort to inform you of all known issues, you’re not likely to have any recourse. Whether you have buyer’s remorse about a used sports car or bought a junker that has breathed its last, you can’t expect a refund. Here are some of the reasons some people may try for a refund.

Lemon Laws

Every state offers a lemon law to protect buyers from purchasing a lemon. A vehicle with major manufacturing defects may be eligible for a refund or repair process.

The steps to file a claim vary by state. Most state lemon laws only cover new vehicles, but some cover used cars. These laws are only meant to protect you from manufacturing defects, so they may not apply to your particular reason for wanting a return.
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Buyer’s Remorse

Did you wake up with buyer’s remorse about a recent purchase? The Federal Trade Commission has a Cooling-Off Rule that is designed to protect consumers for a three-day period after making a major purchase. This rule doesn’t apply to automotive sales, so the Federal Trade Commission can’t help you ask for a refund from a private seller.

Reasons To Want To Return a Car

While a full return policy may be off the table, there are still some steps you can take to end up happy about your recent purchase. First, consider why you’re asking, “Can I return a car I bought from a private seller?” Consider the following common reasons to see what you can do to combat buyer’s remorse.

Poor Deal

One reason you may feel you deserve a return is the cost of the used vehicle. If you found out your used car is worth far less than you paid, you may understandably feel angry and frustrated about the decision.

A financed purchase may be covered by gap insurance, but otherwise, you may be stuck with a car that’s worth less than you just spent. Unfortunately, the best thing to do about this is to do your research ahead of time.

Change of Mood

Many buyers simply change their minds about a particular vehicle. An unusual color, make, or model can seem like a great change of pace until it’s sitting in your garage. This is a natural feeling, but you can’t ask for a refund.

The best advice to avoid this in the future is to sleep on any decision. Perform a test drive of your chosen car and a few others, then take a night to think about it. If you feel just as excited about your purchase in the morning, then you may be less likely to change your mind as quickly.

Known Defects

Some used car buyers resort to legal action to reclaim their costs. If your buyer made claims, even verbal, about the vehicle's condition, you might have a case against them if the vehicle doesn’t live up to these claims. The situation largely relies on the judge’s determination and can be a stressful or time-consuming option.
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How To Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

The best you can do in many cases is to find a way to move forward and avoid the situation in the future. Don’t sit around with buyer’s remorse, but follow these steps to get the most out of your used, unwanted vehicle.

Research Before You Buy

Don’t rush into a quick sale. This isn’t much help if you’ve already purchased a vehicle you don’t want, but it’s a good reminder for your next purchase. Spend some time researching the used car market to avoid scams. Look at these features of a car to help you compare your options:

Make and model information
Trim levels
Your local used car market

Prices for used cars aren’t set in stone. There can be a wide range of price estimates on similar vehicles, but spend some time checking out comparable cars in your area. PrivateAuto helps you easily compare similar makes, models, mileage amounts, and other features.

Work With a Local Mechanic

Sometimes it takes a professional eye to find some issues. A test drive can help you notice major issues and find out if you like the feel of the ride, but a local mechanic can help you kick the tires and closely inspect under the hood.

Ask for a pre-purchase inspection to give you more time and to see what a professional thinks about your pending purchase. The small investment of a professional inspection can save you a lot of stress and regret.

Consider Reselling Your Ride

For some cars, the best solution is to cut your losses. Pass your unwanted ride to another buyer who is looking for your exact vehicle. List your vehicle on PrivateAuto for excellent advertising opportunities. You only need to meet with verified buyers and can arrange the entire process through a safe, online platform.

Be prepared to receive less for your vehicle than you purchased it for. All vehicles depreciate in value over time, but this is particularly true if you’ve noticed a major issue with your ride. You should inform your buyer of any known issues with the vehicle, but there are buyers interested in junker cars. Be honest in your listing and show off all the benefits of your ride to attract the right kind of buyers.
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Purchase a Car You’re Proud of With PrivateAuto

Don’t let a regrettable decision affect your daily commute. Learn to love the car you’re in or search listings at PrivateAuto to find your dream ride. Make an offer with your eyes open after you schedule a test drive, check out the VIN and review comparable options in your local area.