Auto manufacturers are for-profit corporations, so it should be no surprise that they will fight most anything that cuts into their bottom line. One example of this is lemon law buybacks, which occur when an owner ends up with a vehicle that does not function as designed after multiple attempts to fix it. Despite documentation from their own dealerships or repair shops indicating that the auto is defective or unfixable, the manufacturer will often still try to avoid fulfilling or drag out their lemon law buyback obligation.
This strategy can leave consumers without a functioning car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, boat, or another motorized mode of transportation. It also leads to additional out-of-pocket expenses if the vehicle needs towing, the owner needs a rental car or related expenditures.
Common manufacturer tactics
There a variety of tricks that manufacturers will try to use:
- Downplay the defect: They may argue that the defect’s impact does not merit complete vehicle replacement even when it is an issue with the motor, transmission or other things essential to its safe operation.
- Argue the claim’s validity: Rather than downplaying the defect, they may even brazenly argue that the owner’s claim is not valid because they do not have sufficient proof.
- Blame the owner: They may argue that the owner caused the problem through misuse or due to an accident.
- Force arbitration: They may try to get owners to bypass court, arguing it will take too long, and then take advantage of the arbitration process. An arbitration clause may also get included in the purchasing agreement.
- Offer a low-ball settlement: They will likely try to avoid paying the total value of the same or similar replacement vehicle by citing the defective vehicle’s mileage, age and other details that reduce its value.
Owners protected by laws
There are state and federal laws that protect the rights of consumers. The so-called lemon laws apply when it involves a vehicle, parts or related products like a child car seat. While manufacturers may try to skirt their obligations, these laws hold them accountable.