California’s Lemon Law requires vehicle manufacturers to replace or buy back defective vehicles after a reasonable number of repair efforts. However, to get the Lemon Law to work for you, you will need the advice and services of the right California Lemon Law attorney.
If your vehicle is deemed a lemon and an auto manufacturer buys the vehicle back from you, you will receive a check, probably buy another vehicle, and as far as you’re concerned, that’s the end of the matter. But what happens next to the vehicles that are purchased back from consumers?
Can a vehicle that has previously been identified as a lemon and has been repurchased by the manufacturer be sold again to the public? Could you end up buying a vehicle that has already been deemed a lemon? Keep reading for some of the answers that consumers in California need.
How Does California Law Define a Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle?
Under state law, a “Lemon Law buyback vehicle” is defined as a vehicle that has been repurchased by the manufacturer, on or after January 1, 1996, because of one or more specific warranty defects.
Yes, it is legal for the manufacturer to sell a Lemon Law buyback vehicle again to a member of the public, but the law protects consumers in this situation. If you purchase a Lemon Law buyback vehicle, the law requires the seller to tell you it is a buyback vehicle.
What is Required of a Vehicle Manufacturer?
When a manufacturer repurchases a vehicle because of one or more specific warranty defects, the law requires the manufacturer to:
1. Register the vehicle in the manufacturer’s name and have the vehicle titled in the manufacturer’s name before it can be sold again to a member of the public.
2. Request that both the California Certificate of Title and the registration certificate are marked “Lemon Law Buyback.”
3. Affix a decal reading “Lemon Law Buyback” to the vehicle’s left door frame or on the frame of a main entry into the vehicle (like the front right door frame on a motor home). A decal must be attached to the left side of vehicles with no doors (such as motorcycles).
Requirements for Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle Sellers
When a Lemon Law buyback vehicle is sold to a member of the public, the seller must make the following disclosures in writing to the buyer:
1. the vehicle’s year of manufacture, make, model, and vehicle identification number
2. that the vehicle title is marked “Lemon Law Buyback”
3. the nature of any fault or defect reported by the vehicle’s original purchaser or lessee
4. the repairs made to the vehicle in an effort to correct the faults or defects
How Can You Know If a Vehicle is a Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle?
More than two million new vehicles are purchased by California consumers every year. How can a consumer know whether or not a vehicle is a Lemon Law Buyback vehicle? To protect yourself when you buy a new or used vehicle in this state:
1. Look for the decal that says “Lemon Law Buyback.”
2. Look at the vehicle’s California Certificate of Title and the registration certificate to see if they indicate that the vehicle is a “Lemon Law Buyback.”
3. Ask the seller directly if the vehicle is a Lemon Law buyback vehicle. The law requires the seller to make an honest disclosure.
What If I Buy a Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle?
If you choose to buy a Lemon Law buyback vehicle, the normal documents and related fees will be required by law. These include:
1. a California Certificate of Title that has been properly endorsed for transfer
2. a transfer fee, a sales/use tax if applicable, and a smog certification if applicable
3. an odometer disclosure statement
4. registration renewal fees if the transaction takes place within 30 days of the renewal date
Additional items or fees may be required depending on the type of transfer application.
If You Think the Vehicle You Own is a Lemon
The last thing anyone who owns a vehicle wants is a lemon and the headaches that go with it. A problematic or defective vehicle can interfere with our families and our obligations. Having a vehicle repeatedly repaired is an inconvenience that means time, money, and aggravation.
However, California consumers can rely on the protection offered by the California Lemon Law. The law protects consumers who purchase or lease a vehicle under warranty. If a vehicle is faulty or defective and can’t be repaired, you may need the advice of a California consumer attorney.
Precisely Which Vehicles Are Covered By California’s Lemon Law?
In order for a defective vehicle’s owner to take advantage of his or her rights under the California Lemon Law, the vehicle must:
1. be a new, used, or leased vehicle still covered by a manufacturer’s new or Certified Pre-Owned vehicle warranty (or the dealer’s used warranty)
2. have been leased or purchased in the State of California
3. have repeat visits for the same issue before the warranty expires
A vehicle is eligible for buyback or replacement under the California Lemon Law only if the manufacturer cannot repair a fault or defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts.
If You Believe That You’ve Purchased a Lemon
If you think that a vehicle you’ve leased or purchased is a lemon, before you take any legal action, the Lemon Law requires you to give the manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle.
Keep – and make copies of – all receipts, bills, and other documents related to the vehicle, its purchase, and its repairs. You will need these documents if the vehicle cannot be repaired and you choose to take legal action.
If you have had your vehicle repaired several times, but the same problem persists, arrange to speak with California Lemon Law attorney Sotera Anderson. She will explain how the Lemon Law works and how it may apply to your own circumstances.
Why Will You Need a Lemon Law Attorney’s Help?
If you exercise your rights under the Lemon Law, it is possible that a manufacturer may dispute your claim. The manufacturer may insist that the defect is trivial, may try to blame you for causing the problem, or may insist that the repairs were effective and there is no problem. The manufacturer may also try to low-ball you and convince you to take the quick, low-hanging easy money, even though you may be entitled to a refund of your money.
Being represented by an attorney who has substantial experience handling Lemon Law claims – an attorney like Sotera Anderson – can make all of the difference. The right attorney will protect your rights, advocate on your behalf, and guide you step-by-step through the legal process.
A lemon law attorney can help to negotiate the best deal for you, which may mean more money in your pocket. Don’t worry about attorney fees and costs because the lemon law says the manufacturer has to pay for your attorney’s fees and costs if you prevail.