We often get questions from consumers about buying new and used vehicles and returning a new car. While we don’t have authority over these areas, we are always happy to offer a referral if there is an organization that is better equipped to help you. Read on for examples of some of these types of consumer questions and our answers.

A question about buyer’s remorse:

Hi there, I recently bought a new car from a dealership. Once I got home and had a conversation with my wife about our finances, I realized that we cannot afford the monthly payments. Can I return the car? I’ve barely driven it at all.

Our answer: Thank you for your question. There is no law that gives consumers the right to easily return a vehicle so generally speaking, you likely can’t return it. You could try contacting the dealer or find out if there are any cancellation provisions in your purchase agreement. You could also contact the Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) as they license motor dealerships and salespeople in BC. Here is their website. You can also contact them at consumer.services@mvsabc.com or by phone at 604-575-7255 or toll free 1-877-294-9889. I hope this helps!

A question about buying a used car:

I’m trying to buy a used vehicle and I’ve found one that seems to be from a legitimate private seller. How do I know if the person I’m dealing with is legitimate or if they’re working for a business and posing as a private seller (ie. “curber”)?

Our answer: It can be hard to determine the legitimacy of a private seller. The Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) has a page on their website that helps consumers identify curber red flags. One of which is if the seller has more than one vehicle listed with the same phone number. You can find this webpage here. According to the VSA, curbers offer none of the protections the law provides for purchases from a Vehicle Sales Authority licensed dealer, so it might be good idea to become familiar with the red flags. Best of luck!

A question about returning a faulty new car:

I bought a new car from a dealership and I’m hearing horrible sounds coming from the engine and I think there might be something seriously wrong with it. I just bought it a couple weeks ago, I should be able to return it and get a functioning vehicle. What are my options here?

Our answer: Hi there, thank you for your question. The organization which oversees the law governing certain aspects of dealerships is the Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA), so I would suggest you contact them directly. There is no law that gives consumers the right to easily return a vehicle. According to their website, you may be able to return a vehicle if the dealership has an advertised or stated return policy, if the vehicle did not meet the minimum standards for a vehicle to be driven on the road at the time of purchase, or if there was a material misrepresentation of the vehicle at the time of purchase. You can find out more about this on their webpage here. I might suggest taking a look at the How to Resolve a Dispute and Filing a Complaint with the VSA Fact Sheets. This may not apply to your situation but there is also the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP), which is a program that allows disputes between consumers and vehicle manufacturers to be resolved through binding arbitration. They deal with disputes about alleged defects in the assembly of a vehicle or implementation of the new vehicle warranty. I hope this helps and best of luck!

Our organization is responsible for overseeing certain consumer protection laws in British Columbia. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best solution. Either way, we will do our best to give you the most relevant information.

ADDITIONAL READING:

Can I return a new car?
Can you spot a shady used car deal?
Watch out for curbers!
Getting your first car? Read this before you sign the sales slip
Buying a used car: common questions about damage declarations