I bought a used car on the condition that certain faulty equipment would be repaired under a "we owe" agreement. I have been unable to take possession of the car after buying it a week ago due to the fact that the faulty equipment technically makes it illegal to drive in my state in the U.S. The seller supposedly already repaired the equipment once but it was not working by the time I went to pick up the car, so I again left it there and they are repairing it again.

My understanding is that the normal 3-day "cooling off" period for consumer purchases does not apply to cars sold by a seller with a permanent physical sales location, so I know that would not have helped me even within the first 3 days after the purchase.

The "we owe" agreement expires 30 days after the purchase date so I would think anything close to 30 days is excessive for a seemingly minor repair, especially if they have had the car in their possession the entire time.

If I think this is dragging on too long with a seemingly simple repair, are there any terms under which I may be able to cancel the purchase even if I signed the "as-is car sale" agreement, and if so, what would be the shortest "reasonable" amount of time to allow them to deliver on their promises?

  • A reasonable amount of time seems to largely rest on the extent of the work to be done and the subjective opinion of the person answering the question.
    – user608
    Feb 18, 2017 at 6:14
  • In this case, an LED brake light assembly was faulty. The first attempted repair took 2 days or less, including ordering a replacement part. I would assume the second repair will be more successful, but if it is not, I would rather cancel the purchase and move on so I don't have to worry about it any longer. I just don't want to be stuck in the situation that they keep saying, "another day or two" while we gradually approach the expiration dates of the "we owe" agreement and the used car's included dealer warranty.
    – rob
    Feb 18, 2017 at 6:55
  • Have you tried formally setting a (reasonable) time limit for the repair? A (registered) letter doing that may a) get them to take you seriously and b) strengthen your position should the matter go to court.
    – sleske
    Feb 20, 2017 at 9:05
  • Ultimately, the second repair was also unsuccessful. After a long talk on the phone, I was not satisfied with the dealer's promise that the third time would be guaranteed to work, so they agreed to "unwind" the deal and refunded my payment.
    – rob
    Jan 5, 2021 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


I assume this is a used car, and that your sales agreement doesn't have a 'time is of the essence' clause that specifies a specific deadline. In that case, they will have 'reasonable time' to perform the work. Unfortunately, there is no legal definition of what would be reasonable (the time necessary to repair a locomotive is much longer than the time needed to repair a torn screen door). Rather, the question would be, given the nature of the time, what you be typical, what would be surprising or shockingly long, and what extenuating factors are there. If you happen to know a lot of mechanics, you can get a ballpark figure. Let's say that it has been 3 weeks, then that is probably unreasonably long, so you could sue them for breach of contract. If it has less than a week, it's not so clear. You might simply ask then when they will get the problem fixed.

  • Yes, it's a used car. The first repair attempt took less than 2 days, so I would think even 2 weeks is excessive. They did give me a date for completing the second repair attempt but if it is not ready by then, do I have grounds to cancel the contract, or do I need to give them a couple more days if they ask for it? If they keep dragging it out a day or two at a time, at what point can I just say enough is enough?
    – rob
    Feb 18, 2017 at 7:26
  • @rob: You could ask one or two mechanics at other garages what a reasonable time is. Then set the dealer a date where you expect the car. Either they agree, or they propose a different date. Then go from there...
    – sleske
    Feb 20, 2017 at 9:06

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