Is there a cooling-off period if I buy from a car dealer?

It depends whether you bought your car in person or over the phone/online - this applies whether you bought it from a second-hand dealer or brand new.

This is because of the rules around distance selling under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

From a dealer in person

If you buy a car from a dealer, you’ll usually sign a vehicle order form and pay a deposit.

This means you’re fully committed to buying the car as you’ve signed a legally-binding contract.

If you change your mind, the dealer is within their right to keep your deposit or even take you to the small claims court.

But if the car is faulty, you have rights under the Consumer Rights Act to get a refund, repair or replacement. This applies to both brand new and second-hand cars.

From a dealer over the phone or online

If you’ve committed to buying a car either over the phone or online, you’re in a better position for a last-minute change of heart because you’re covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

The important part of this situation is that it has to be distance-selling or off-premises selling, which means the whole process must have happened away from the dealership.

You can’t have stepped on the forecourt and seen the car in person.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, from the day you decide to buy the car until 14 days after it’s delivered and you take ownership, you’re covered by the cooling-off period in case you change your mind.

You’ll need to read the dealer’s terms and conditions about what their specific cancellation policy is, for example who has to pay for any costs involved in getting it back to the dealership.

It’s a good idea to ask them to specify these details before you commit to buy.

If you’ve bought off-premises and have paid a deposit, you’re entitled to get this back in full as long as you cancel your car order within the cooling off period.

However, if the car turns out to be faulty - regardless of whether there’s a cooling-off period or not - you’re protected by the Consumer Rights Act.

Find out more about what to do if the new or second-hand car you bought has a problem.

Is there a cooling-off period for car insurance?

Yes - if you change your mind about your car insurance policy within 14 days of agreeing to it, you can cancel the contract under the Consumer Credit Act.

Insurers will often charge an admin fee and a pro-rata rate of how much cover you used.

For example, if you take out a 365-day policy for £1,000 then cancel after seven days, you should be charged £19.18 (£2.73 a day), plus an admin fee.

Some firms may charge you more than this and if they do, you should complain to your insurer. We can help you write a letter of complaint about unfair contract terms.

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