Car Buyer’s Remorse and How to Avoid It

Car buyer’s remorse is a strong, negative reaction one feels after buying a car. You can avoid it by being well-informed about your car purchase.
Written by Olivia Rose
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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Car buyer’s remorse is a strong sense of regret a person feels after buying a car. It might be marked by anxiety, distress, and disappointment.
The best way to avoid car buyer’s remorse is to be thoughtful and logical about any car purchase you make. Jumping into a car purchase too quickly or without much thought can lead to buyer’s remorse.
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Read on to learn everything you need to know about car buyer’s remorse—and how to avoid it.
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What is car buyer’s remorse?

Car buyer’s remorse is an intense feeling of regret after purchasing a car. The reaction usually involves significant anxiety.
You’ve probably experienced buyer’s remorse before—like that kitchen gadget you never use, or that expensive pair of pants that still have the tag on them (hate to break it to you, but if you haven’t worn them yet, you probably never will).
But buyer’s remorse is a whole new ballgame when the purchase is significant—like a home or a car.

What car buyer’s remorse can look like

Car buyer’s remorse will typically manifest as anxiety and regret over your recent purchase. You may be asking yourself (or others, if you’re an external processor) variations of the following questions:
  • Was it the right time to buy a car?
  • Are my monthly payments too high?
  • Is this car way more than I need right now?
  • Could I have gotten a better deal somewhere else?
  • Can I return my car?
Sadly, the answer to the final question is usually no. Car dealerships don’t often allow returns—though there may be buyer’s remorse laws in your state for used vehicles.
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How to avoid car buyer’s remorse

The best way to prevent car buyer’s remorse is to be thoughtful and thoroughly research the car of your choice before taking the plunge.
Keep in mind that sometimes car buyer’s remorse is irrational—spending large sums of money can be a lot for your brain to process, especially if it’s your first really big purchase.
Key Takeaway The best way to avoid car buyer’s remorse is by making a calculated and informed car purchase.

Know a dealer’s process

Dealers are trying to sell cars—point blank period. Remember that if a really good deal is being offered, a salesperson or retailer must have an incentive to be offering that deal.
If you weren’t getting this "once in a lifetime" deal, would you still be considering purchasing this car?
Know how to negotiate. If you’re wary about the price of a vehicle, a salesperson will often help you get a lower monthly payment so that your loan repayment term is longer. Basically, this doesn’t change the overall cost of the vehicle. Make sure you’re negotiating a lower overall cost for a car you’re trying to purchase, rather than just a lower monthly payment.
After a test drive, your dealer is likely to push you to purchase the vehicle you just tested out, especially if they are pushing to get cars off the lot. A car purchase is a huge investment—don’t purchase a car unless you are happy with the exact vehicle.
If you want a car with certain features, like a sunroof or a better speaker system, don’t settle for a car straight from the lot that doesn’t have the features you want—and don’t let a dealer push you into it.

Strategies a dealer might use to tempt you to buy

A dealer’s job is to sell cars, so they have sales strategies, such as offering cash discounts and shorter lease terms. Knowing a dealer’s sales strategies can help you decipher whether you are making a purchase decision fully on your own accord, or whether you are being pressured into a decision.
Here are some strategies a dealer might use to try and sell you a car:
  • Shorter lease term. A dealer might offer you zero percent financing for a shorter lease term. A shorter lease term, though, will inevitably mean higher monthly payments that you may not be able to afford. Don’t be quick to jump into a lease without seriously assessing your finances.
  • Cash discounts
  • Asking, "How much are you willing to pay each month?" This tactic can get you to overpay for a car since what you’re willing to pay each month might be more than the car is actually worth.
Remember, just because a dealer is using one of these sales strategies doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase the car you’re looking at. But, these strategies are important to be aware of so you don’t get sold a bad deal—or a car you don’t really want.
Key Takeaway Knowing a dealer’s sales tactics can help you make a more informed purchase decision and avoid car buyer’s remorse.

How to get over buyer's remorse

Buyer's remorse is especially strong for cars because they are just so expensive. There aren't many other things you're going to buy in your lifetime that are as expensive as a new car.
The best way to get over buyer's remorse is to avoid it in the first place, but that's not always possible.
To get over buyer's remorse, try to spend some time thinking about your purchase. Consider the 'pros' of why you bought it, and try to appreciate your decision to buy the car—were you proud of the way you negotiated at the dealership? Did you get an incredible
car loan
due to your high credit? Maybe you finally saved up enough to pay for a nicer car in cash. Or maybe you just really needed a car to get to work.
Whatever the reason, if you can appreciate your purchase, you're one step closer to getting over buyer's remorse.

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What are the car buyer’s remorse laws in Virginia?

According to the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, a buyer may return her used car within 18 months if it shows faults or defects not disclosed by the seller. In Virginia, demo vehicles are also considered used vehicles.
The Virginia Consumer Protection Act deems that a dealer must also disclose if the vehicle you purchase has been in a wreck— even if the car is sold "as is." If the dealer doesn’t disclose this information, you can appeal to this act to return your car.
Note that neither of these acts applies to new cars, so you won’t be able to appeal to them if you want to return a new car.

What are the car buyer’s remorse laws in Florida?

Florida does not have any "cooling-off" period for car sales where buyers can change their minds on recent car purchases.
But, Florida does uphold a "Lemon Law," which protects you if you purchased a defective vehicle. The defects of the vehicle must be reported within 24 months for the law to apply, and the dealer or manufacturer must make three reasonable attempts at fixing the defect.

How do I avoid car buyer’s remorse?

Avoid car buyer’s remorse by being informed about your car purchase. Don’t jump into a car purchase hastily or without thoroughly researching and test-driving the car you plan to buy.
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