California’s “No Cooling-Off Period” Rule

California has a “no cooling-off” period when a consumer buys or leases a new vehicle. As a result, if you think the lease agreement terms are unreasonable or discover other unfavorable reasons, you have no basis to cancel the sale or lease.

The moment you complete the sale/lease contract and take physical possession of the car, there’s a “no cooling off” period during which you can return or rescind the sale. The most prominent exception is dealer fraud, when the lender delivers the vehicle subject to the lender’s credit approval.

Despite the “no cooling-off period” rule, California lemon law still protects consumers who buy new and used vehicles with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.

Consider speaking to a trusted California lemon law attorney to learn how to protect your vehicle owner’s rights.

What Is the “No Cooling-Off Period” Rule in California?

In most industries, returns are a normal way of doing business. California state law requires most retailers to post and communicate their refund policies unless they offer a full refund within a week of the sale.

Even so, car dealers are a notable exception to the rule. Unlike other businesses, car dealerships are protected by the “No Cooling Off Period Rule.” The rule states that no car dealership must accept returns if the consumer fairly bought the vehicle.

The rule aims to protect car dealerships and sales associates. Most people buy a vehicle when excited, only to “cool down” about the new unit. Some regret the purchase and ponder returning it the following day.

Accepting returns is unfair to salespersons and dealerships, who must spend time and effort convincing consumers to close sales.

The other reason for the ‘’No Cooling-Off Period’’ is to deter people from taking advantage of the lenient return policy. More importantly, returning a vehicle devalues it, making it hard to find a subsequent buyer.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are two exceptions to the rule.

First, it may apply in instances when the dealer has committed fraud. If the dealer misrepresented facts about the car, you have a right to request a return for the vehicle. Some of the aspects considered as dealer fraud include:

  • Untrue statement about the features
  • Failure to disclose the vehicle was used as a rental
  • Interfering with the odometer reading
  • Bundling services into the purchase price without disclosing
  • Failure to disclose an expired warranty
  • Failure to disclose the car sustained accidental damage or had hidden damage

The exception may also apply if you bought a vehicle through ‘’subject to lenders credit approval’’, a conditional sale, where you can or must return it if the seller can’t secure financing.

Can You Return a Car to a Dealership in California?

Consumers who purchase used vehicles valued below $40,000 must be offered a two-day contract cancellation option. It is important to note there’s no ‘’cooling off’’ period unless you purchase a contract cancellation agreement.

Alternatively, consumers who buy vehicles with substantial defects can turn to lemon laws to protect their rights. Usually, a vehicle is considered a lemon if it has significant defects that impact its value, use, and safety.

If the dealer or manufacturer can’t fix a severe warranty defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer must either:

  • Replace the vehicle
  • Refund its purchase price— whichever you prefer

To receive a refund from a manufacturer, you must have given the dealership a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the defect.

Although lemon law doesn’t fix a number when determining a manufacturer’s action, California lemon law presumption offers the following guidelines:

  • The manufacturer or dealer hasn’t fixed the warranty defect after four or more repair attempts.
  • The vehicle defect could cause death or severe bodily injury, and the dealership has attempted at least two unsuccessful repair attempts.
  • The vehicle has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days, not necessarily consecutive for a repair defect covered by the warranty.

Can You Cancel a Car Purchase in California?

Yes. It is possible to cancel a car purchase in California by invoking any of the following three reasons:

Car Purchase Contract and Cancellation Agreement

If you buy a vehicle valued at over $40,000, the buyer cannot offer you a two-day contract cancellation option agreement. However, you can purchase one. Although the contract cancellation agreement comes at a fee, it allows the vehicle owner to process a return if it falls below their expectations.

Defective Vehicles

A vehicle owner can invoke California lemon laws to return a defective vehicle. California lemon laws protect vehicle owners who buy new or used cars with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.

You can return a vehicle if a dealership fails to fix a substantial defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Illegal Sales Tactics

Consumers who are victims of illegal sales tactics have the right to pursue a return. A typical example of an illegal sales tactic is when a dealer advertises a feature not in the vehicle. Some dealerships fail to disclose vehicles that sustained damage in collision incidents.

How to Get Out of a Car Purchase: Is There a Cooling-Off Period?

The ‘’No Cooling-Off Period’’ rule means vehicle owners may be in a dilemma after buying a new or used vehicle with defects. Fortunately, California lemon laws allow vehicle owners to obtain a refund or replacement if a malfunction occurs within 18,000 miles or 18 months.

If you need help with the following steps, an experienced lemon law attorney can offer legal advice on protecting your rights. More importantly, an attorney can help compile evidence demonstrating why you deserve a refund or replacement.

Get Legal Advice From an Experienced California Lemon Law Attorney

If you accidentally buy a defective vehicle from a dealer, the no cooling-off period means you’ll endure a poor driving experience. Depending on the defect, it can lead to additional expenses, including car rental, accommodation, and towing charges.

You deserve representation from an experienced attorney from LemonLaw123, who’ll aggressively fight to protect your rights. Contact us online or at 657-529-5239 for a free case review.

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, known as The Lemon Law Lady, has dedicated her entire legal career to the specialized field of Lemon Law, a journey that began immediately after her
graduation from UCLA School of Law.

With a 99% success rate and a policy of no fees unless you win, her practice stands as a testament to her expertise in California’s Lemon Law, her commitment to her clients, and her unwavering dedication to justice and consumer rights.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, personally handled over 500 lemon law cases and settlements.