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How does lemon law buyback work?

Lemon law buyback vehicles are usually so badly flawed that manufacturers deem them unfit to be on the road. In their eyes, the vehicles are unsafe and not of sufficient value, so manufacturers “buyback” these vehicles from the consumer.

While the vehicle makers may initiate the buyback after a reasonable number of attempts to fix it, the consumer may need to prompt them to do so. Minus fees for mileage driven between first repair attempt and final buyback, manufacturers must refund the consumers’ payments (and full amount of a car loan), prorated registration, taxes or fees, as well as incidental expenses like rental cars or tow expenses. Buybacks even include money to cover reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

After the buyback, however, dealers or manufacturers may then repair the vehicle and try to resell it. California is particularly protective of buyers’ rights, and offers protections regarding its lemon laws if this happens.

Manufacturer requirements

The manufacturer must fulfill several prerequisites if they are to legally resell a vehicle. These include:

  • The California Certificate of Title and registration certificate must indicate “Lemon Law Buyback”
  • The manufacturer’s name goes on the new title
  • A lemon law decal is applied to the left door frame, frame of major entry (such as side door of a motor home) or left side of a motorcycle or vehicle without doors

Dealer or seller requirements

The buyer should look for comments in the remarks area at the bottom of the title. The dealer/seller is legally obligated to state that it is a lemon law buyback. They must also provide the buyer with the following information on a letter-sized piece of paper:

  • The vehicle identification number (VIN), make and model
  • A title with “Lemon Law Buyback” on it
  • A list of the issues that caused the lemon designation
  • A list of repairs made to remedy the flaw or non-conformity

What happens if I did not realize I bought a lemon law buyback car?

Buyers do have options if they go through the paperwork after buying the car and realize that it is a lemon law buyback. The seller must:

  • Provide a full refund of the money used to purchase the car
  • Provide a replacement non-lemon car of the same make, model and year

A lemon law lawyer may be necessary

Despite legal obligations, unscrupulous sellers or even manufacturers may not notify buyers that a vehicle is a lemon. Whatever their reasons for not disclosing this information or trying to bury it, the seller can be held accountable to the law with help of a lemon law attorney here in California. These lawyers understand the intricacies of the state and federal laws and can help protect consumers’ rights.

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