Tim and Donna and their 2009 Hyundai Elanta

Do I have three days to change my mind about buying a car?

Can I Change My Mind About Buying a Car? I already signed the auto loan contract.

Question: “I bought a car the other day, and I am having second thoughts. I signed the contract, but want to get out of it. Can I?”

Answer: In the State of Washington, and most other states, there is no “Cooling Off” Period for buyers that encounter “Buyer’s Remorse”. If someone comes to your house to sell you a vacuum or something like that, you usually have a three day window to rescind the contract. However, on a motor vehicle purchase at a dealership, you do not have that choice.

There are a couple ways to get out of the vehicle though.

1. Trade the car in. While you will not get what you paid, sometimes it is the only way out of a car you do not want. It will give you the chance to buy a car you like better, and the dealer you bought the car from will probably give you more than any other dealer because they will not need to inspect the car as thoroughly if you just bought it.

2. The dealer can be nice, and let you out of the contract. This does not happen very often. Sometimes under extenuating circumstances, like death or illness. It needs to happen very fast, because once the new loan is funded by the lender: YOU ARE DONE. The dealer most likely will not help.

3. The dealer cannot get the loan financed. If the dealer cannot get the loan financed as contracted, and needs to have you resign the contract at different numbers and/or come up with more down payment, you do not have to sign the new contract and are able to “unwind” the car deal. Congrats, you have bad credit and they could not get you financed. That is probably the only time someone is happy about having bad credit. (If you lied about anything on your application and that is the reason for not being able to get financed, the dealer may decide to keep your down payment and/or trade. Do not lie on a credit application. It is not worth it.)

4. The dealer may let you out of that car deal if you agree to buy another car. Typically, the dealer will make you buy the second car before they let you out of the first contract. You get a different car, and the dealer gets to keep the customer. This is usually the best solution because it is Win-Win for both the dealer and the customer.

Can I get out of my contract to buy a car?


  • Jordan June 16, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    You simply have to be able say ‘no, thanks at that price’ at least once to the dealer. This gives them a strong message that you are serious about your research.

    You should also bring a piece of paper to the dealership and make sure you do all the math of the finance calculations yourself. The point is not that they will do the math wrong. The point is you will see exactly how the deal is structured. Do not be afraid to take the time to do this or look like a fool for mapping out your car deal in the dealership.

  • Lisa October 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    What if the dealer told you to lie on the application about your finances and you signed it and now want out of the deal 3 days later? We are trying to get ahold of the lender so that they will not approve the loan but it may have already went through? (Today is Saturday we signed contract on Wednesday, will not be able to get ahold of lender until Monday?) Also is it legal for the car dealer to sell a car or a lender to approve the loan if a persons drivers license is expired?

    • admin October 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

      There are multiple points here.
      1. You signed a credit application. Every application basically says that you are acknowledging the accuracy and completeness of the credit application. You knowingly signed an inaccurate credit application which could mean you committed loan fraud.
      2. If someone at the dealer was trying to get you to lie on the credit application, that should have been a red flag to walk away.
      3. The driver’s license depends on state law. Are you military? That could also make a difference. Can you get full coverage insurance? You are required to on a vehicle that is financed. If you do not have a license, why are you trying to buy a car to begin with?

      Bottom line: Both you and the dealer did something wrong here. If the dealer asked you to lie, and you signed a credit application stating all info is accurate, you are both at fault. You could talk to your state AG, but keep in mind you signed a credit application you knew to be false.

      You could contact the lender, but they may keep the loan. The only difference may be that if you fail to make payments, the lender may put the contract back onto the dealer.

  • Jean Debeer July 9, 2010 at 2:33 am

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  • raul April 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    i buught a honda pilot at napleton honda, talking to the sales man, we agree on a price,,, 40,000, after a few hours, it was late,, and we end up signing late as hell we walk out by midnight,, i went home just to find out tha the price of the car was 46 000 not 40,, now i just went there and give them the car back,,, today, i dont know whats ganna happen

    • rgarri April 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      Did they get the loan funded already? If they did, you might have a voluntary repossession. Of course, it depends on what state you are in.

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