Lemon Car Buy Back Law

Now and then, you may hear the term “Lemon Law” mentioned. Although most people probably know that it’s something to do with cars, many are confused about exactly what the California lemon law buyback is all about.

Lemon laws protect consumers by giving them legal recourse in cases where a defective car has not been appropriately repaired after multiple attempts.

Here is an overview of the lemon law program:

If you have purchased or leased a new vehicle (including motorcycles) – or even if you just acquired one as a gift – and discover within the first 18 months (18,000 miles in some states) that it does not conform to express warranties that were provided at the time of sale, then your vehicle considered to be lemons.

(Note: If you drive an RV with a GVW of more than 10,000 pounds or is pulled by a motor vehicle that has a gross vehicular weight rating of over 26,000 pounds, then there is no lemon law for your unit. Instead, federal guidelines protect such consumers.)

Once you have established your car fits the criteria to be considered a lemon under California State Laws, then you have options as to what to do next.

  • You can contact either or both the dealer and manufacturer and attempt to receive satisfactory service to resolve the problems that made the car unfit for use after multiple repair attempts.
  • You can contact either or both the dealer and manufacturer to request that they buy back the car after multiple repair attempts have failed, in which case you are entitled to receive payment for your purchase minus a mileage/use allowance.

Keep in mind that when you choose the buyback option, you are forfeiting all rights to continue with further warranty repairs under any warranty program, including new car warranties, used car warranties, etc., unless the vehicle was initially sold “as is,” which would be disclosed at the time of sale.

If you wish to pursue this second option (a california lemon law buyback), please provide written notification by certified mail to both the dealer and manufacturer within 15 days of discovering that your vehicle is defective.

You must inform them of your intention to demand a buyback by registered letter, and you should include this statement: “I am prepared to allow up to 30 days for you to arrange for the buyback on my new vehicle.”

A dealer cannot refuse or delay either acceptance or payment if you follow the procedures set out in the California Vehicle Code. A manufacturer has 20 business days after receiving notification of your intention to resort to a lemon law buyback. It is illegal for them not to comply with these requirements.

Once either party accepts full responsibility for failing to conform the vehicle to its warranty, law requires them within ten calendar days to provide you one of the following options:

  1. A complete refund including all costs associated with the vehicle, taxes, and registration fees;
  2. Or a replacement (buyback for the same model or one of equal value), including reimbursement of all costs associated with the purchase and registration of the new car.

Lemon law buybacks must be completed within 20 business days after you first notified them that you wanted to exercise your options under the lemon law. Any repairs on your car made before receiving their notification letter will NOT be reimbursed as part of the buyback agreement. If you decide to sell your vehicle as-is, either party can offer in writing complimenting your choice, but it is not required by law.