While there is no statutory three-day cancellation period for automobile sales or leases, consumers may be able to rescind a car purchase in other ways, using federal and state Lemon Laws.

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Lemon Laws
California and Connecticut were among the first states to enact lemon laws in the early 1980s, which protect consumers from substantial defects occurring within a specified period after purchase and provide that a manufacturer must either replace the lemon with a new, comparable car or refund the full purchase price.

Check with the Attorney General in your state to determine if Lemon Laws apply to your purchase.

In California, if within 18 months or 18,000 miles, there have been 2 repair attempts for a defect that might cause death or serious injury, or 4 repair attempts, or your car has been out of service for 30 calendar days, you may be entitled to rescind your car purchase.

Generally, in most states, such as New York, a new car buyer can rescind a car purchase if a major defect covered under warranty is discovered in the car and the defect remains unfixed after a reasonable number of repair efforts have been completed by the dealer or manufacturer.  Although state lemon laws are generally limited to new vehicles, many states have also enacted specific lemon statutes that protect purchasers of used vehicles.

California Consumer Protection for Fraud or Misrepresentation
Even if you do not think you have a lemon, you may still be able to rescind your car purchase if you are a victim of fraud or misrepresentation.

California provides consumers with numerous protections against misrepresentations that are made during the negotiations for the purchase or lease of goods or services. Further, there is no requirement that the salesperson intended to make a misrepresentation; the fact that an untrue representation was made during the negotiations is all that is required.

Examples of fraud or misrepresentation for automobiles include:

  • The seller stated that the car is new, when the car is used or reconditioned.
  • There is a misrepresentation regarding the quality or benefits of goods or services (usually covers any service contracts, or anything a finance or sales manager explains to you, including the quality of a used car, etc.)
  • There are significant non-disclosures, where a salesperson failed to inform you that the used car is a previous lemon-law buy-back, the car was previously involved in a car accident, the car was previously totaled and repaired, or even involved in a flood.
  • Even an as-is sale is not final when a buyer's decision is based on a fraud or misrepresentation.

Foreign Language Negotiations

In addition, California Civil Code §1632 provides that if a purchase or lease of a vehicle is primarily negotiated in Spanish, then a Spanish translation of the contract must be provided to the customer prior to signing the English language contract. This law was recently expanded to include Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Korean. Failure to comply with this law gives the customer the right to rescind the car purchase.

For more information, see Federal and State Lemon Laws for New and Used Cars.  Before speaking to a lawyer, it's a good idea to gather all of your relevant documents and records, including your Car Bill of Sale.

Get started Create Your Car Bill of Sale Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Create Your Car Bill of Sale Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.