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Can you change your mind about buying a car?

If you change your mind after agreeing to buy a car, your rights and options depend on:

  • why you’ve changed your mind
  • how you bought the car
  • how quickly you act.

This page explains what you can do if you’ve changed your mind after agreeing to buy a car.

Top tips

If you bought the car online

If you bought the car online you have additional rights. You can cancel any time before receiving the car. You can also cancel up to 14 days after the day on which you received the car, as long as you get cancellation information when you place your order or before the car is delivered. If you get cancellation information after the car is delivered, the cooling-off period doesn’t finish until the end of the 14 days after the day you received the information

The only exception would be if the car you ordered had personalised elements, such as a unique paint colour or pattern. Personalised elements don't include options that you select from a catalogue or from a choice provided by the manufacturer as standard. So options like an integral MP3 player or satnav are'nt classed as personalised elements.

Why have you changed your mind?

Buying a car is a big decision and it’s common to have second thoughts.

If there is something wrong with the car or you're having a problem with the dealer, it is likely that you can take action to cancel the order or ask for your money back.

If you can’t afford it or you’ve seen a better offer elsewhere, it can be more difficult. However, you may still have options for cancelling the agreement.

Act quickly

If you’ve changed your mind about buying a car because you can no longer afford it or you’ve seen a better deal elsewhere, you should act quickly. You have a contract with the seller if you agreed to buy the car, even if no money has changed hands and the agreement was verbal. However, if nothing has been written down yet, the seller may find it difficult to hold you to the contract.

Check if you can cancel the agreement

If you have a written contract, check the terms and conditions to find out whether you can cancel it. Some contracts have ‘cooling off’ periods written into them.

If your contract says you can’t cancel, it is still worth negotiating with the trader. If you can’t afford to pay for the car, it may be easier for the dealer to let you cancel the contract than to pursue you for the money.

If you bought the car on credit, you may need to cancel your credit agreement separately, depending on whether or not the dealer arranged the credit.

If you bought the car on the internet you have more rights and can cancel any time before receiving the car. If you get cancellation information when you place your order or before the car is delivered, your cooling-off period will finish at the end of 14 days after the day on which you received the car. If you get cancellation information after the car is delivered, the cooling-off period doesn't finish until the end of 14 days after the day you received the information.

If you part-exchanged a car

If the dealer sold you a faulty car and you return it, you are entitled to a refund of any money paid as well as the return of any vehicle you part-exchanged.

What if the dealer has sold the car on?

If the dealer has already sold the car on, you can claim the value that the dealer put on your car when you traded it in.

What if the dealer says the car isn't worth what you agreed?

The dealer might argue that they have found major defects in the vehicle since you traded it in, which have reduced its value. However, you are still entitled to the full amount of the original valuation. The dealer should have inspected the car thoroughly before you came to an agreement. and noticed any defects at the time. The amount agreed for the part-exchanged car forms a part of your contract with the dealer, and they have no right to go back on this.

What if the dealer says they've carried out work on the car?

The dealer might say they’ve carried out work to the car which has increased its value. In this case, you have two choices. You can either claim the original amount of your car’s trade-in value or take the car back and pay for the work. If you take the car back, you should check that the work has been done and that the additional amount claimed by the dealer is a reasonable price.

Next steps

Citizens Advice

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