Sometimes clients ask me what happens to their car after the manufacturer takes their car back (often called a buyback) and gives them a refund.  They are concerned that another unsuspecting consumer may get the problematic vehicle.

After a car is deemed a “lemon” and bought back by the manufacturer, the car isn’t simply taken to the junkyard. In fact, it is often returned to the manufacturer, repaired, and resold to the public or at auction.

Technically, a California Lemon Law vehicle is one that has been reacquired by the manufacturer, on or after January 1, 1996, because of specified warranty defect(s). The vehicle must be registered in the manufacturer’s name prior to resale to a member of the public.

Lemon Law buyback requirements for manufacturers

There are a number of requirements for manufacturers after they buy back a vehicle from a consumer because of specified warranty defect(s). They must:

  • Request that the California Certificate of Title and registration certificate be marked “Lemon Law Buyback.”
  • Title the vehicle in the manufacturer’s name.
  • Attach a decal to the vehicle, which reads “Lemon Law Buyback.” The decal will be affixed to in one of the following locations:
    • Left door frame.
    • Frame of the major entry into the vehicle, such as the front right door frame of a motor home.
    • Left side of a vehicle without doors, such as a motorcycle.

Lemon Law buyback requirements for sellers

There are legal obligations for the seller, too. The dealer/seller selling a Lemon Law Buyback vehicle is required to notify the buyer on letter-size paper the following information:

  • The year, make, model, and vehicle identification number.
  • That the vehicle title is marked “Lemon Law Buyback.”
  • The nature of each nonconformity reported by the vehicle’s original buyer or lessee.
  • Any repairs made to the vehicle in an attempt to correct each nonconformity.

The law also requires that the seller must disclose if the vehicle was a Lemon Law Buyback if a customer asks.

Can a Lemon Law Buyback still be a lemon?

If you’re car shopping, you might encounter a car that is a Lemon Law Buyback.  Prior to buying such a vehicle, the seller must notify you in writing of the nonconformities stated by the original owner. Then it’s up to you to determine if the car is right for you.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.