What is a Lemon Law Buy Back

  • May 14, 2023
  • Balam Letona
  • Comments Off on What is a Lemon Law Buy Back

Have you ever wondered what you would do if a car dealer asked you to purchase a used “lemon”? You might think that most people would avoid such a car like the plague. A lemon law lawyer would tell you not to buy a used lemon, and lemon law regulations make it crystal clear that you know you are buying a lemon. In California car dealers and manufacturers are required by law to disclose any vehicle that has been bought back by the manufacturer to the public.

Brand the Certificate of Title a Lemon Law Buyback

To comply with the California lemon law, the manufacturer must first title the vehicle as a “Lemon Law Buyback” and this must appear on the “pink slip” or certificate of title. Below is an example of a certificate of title branded a “Lemon Law Buyback”.

A Decal Placed on the Car with the words “Lemon Law Buyback”

Second, the lemon law states that a decal must appear on the doorframe of the vehicle stating that the vehicle must be inscribed with the notation “Lemon Law Buyback.”

A Signed Consumer Disclosure Statement

Finally, before selling or leasing the vehicle, the lemon law requires that a car dealer must have the consumer sign a disclosure statement stating that the vehicle has been repurchased by its manufacturer due to a defect in the vehicle pursuant to consumer warranty laws, and that the title has been permanently branded with the notation “Lemon Law Buyback”. The specific details of this law can be found in the lemon law at California Civil Code § 1798.23. Make sure to speak with a lemon law specialist before deciding to buy a used lemon.

A Story of Buying a Used Lemon

However, despite these requirements, some people unwittingly buy used lemons. Again, laways speak with a lemon law expert. Recently, a Monterey County resident bought a used Chevrolet Silverado from a Los Gatos dealership. His primary language is Spanish, and his English is very limited. On the day he bought the car, he trusted the car dealer and its sales representatives entirely. He would have paid over $48,000 after making all required payments, which is about half the price of a new Rivian. Anyway, back to the story…

After driving the car for a short time, he began experiencing mechanical problems, such as slipping and kicking transmission. He took the car to a General Motors dealership in Watsonville, where he learned for the first time that the car had been branded a “lemon”.  

Additionally, the car did not have the required “Lemon Law Buyback” decal on the doorframe, and he did not find the “Lemon Law Buyback” disclosure statement in any of the sales documents he received as required by California Civil Code § 1798.23. That law states that prior to sale or lease the car dealer must have a consumer sign a disclosure statement that states: “THIS VEHICLE WAS REPURCHASED BY ITS MANUFACTURER DUE TO A DEFECT IN THE VEHICLE PURSUANT TO CONSUMER WARRANTY LAWS. THE TITLE TO THIS VEHICLE HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY BRANDED WITH THE NOTATION ‛LEMON LAW BUYBACK’.

He went back to the selling dealership to ask for his money back, he was unsuccessful. He felt that his limited English made him an easy target when he purchased the car. Incidentally, California law requires that a consumer must be provided a foreign language translation of a contract that is negotiated primarily in a language other than English. California Civil Code § 1632.

Eventually, he hired this office. We are lemon law specialists. With our help, he was able to secure a favorable outcome with GM and the dealership. During the case, we discovered that before he bought the vehicle, it had been serviced at a General Motors dealership in Salinas. The original owner lived in Salinas, and he had also complained about defects. Later, GM had bought the vehicle back from the prior owner.

One lesson from this story is to always ask to see the title before purchasing a used car, and to buy a Carfax or AutoCheck report before purchase. The second lesson is to always consult with a lemon law lawyer prior to purchasing a used lemon.


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