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Pennsylvania State Law Regarding Returning Used Cars

by Tom Streissguth

Buying any car, new or used, is a big and often expensive decision, and one that some consumers may have second thoughts about. In some states, including Pennsylvania, the law allows for the return of a vehicle under certain circumstances, although there's no buyer's remorse statute that gives a buyer the unconditional right to do so. If you're browsing in the Keystone State for some used wheels, get familiar with this law before accepting those keys from a dealer.

Misrepresentation by the Dealer

Pennsylvania stautes protect consumers from misrepresentations by a seller. A car dealer who knowingly understates the mileage on a car, for example, is selling the vehicle under false pretences. The buyer could bring suit to have the contract invalidated, and force the seller to take back the car and return the proceeds of the sale.

Deceptive Sale of Damaged Goods

What’s not said by a dealer can be as important as what is said. It’s against Pennsylvania consumer law to sell a car while not revealing certain problems -- such as a cracked frame or engine block, a transmission or differential in disrepair, damage to the car by flooding, or any condition that would prevent the car from passing a mandated state inspection. Whether a car is new or used, it must be “roadworthy,” meaning it can be driven immediately without repairs.

Lemon Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has a statewide lemon law, but it only applies to new cars. Philadelphia, however, offers a lemon law covering used cars sold within the city limits. This law gives the buyer 72 hours to return the car for any repairs needed to make a car roadworthy. Upon the car's return, the dealer has 10 days to either fix the defect or refund the buyer's purchase money. The Philadelphia Office of Consumer Affairs hears complaints and enforces the law.

Future Deliveries

There’s no “buyer’s remorse” statute in Pennsylvania—you can’t return a car without a valid reason relating to fraud, misrepresentation, or a serious mechanical defect. If you buy a car for future delivery, however, a deadline of eight weeks applies to the transaction. If the car is not delivered within that time, you have the right to cancel the contract and receive a refund from the seller.

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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