What Is a Lemon Law Buyback?

A lemon law buyback is sort of in the same category as buying something “open box,” a manufacturer-refurbished laptop, or a car with a salvaged title. Just like open boxes, refurbished items, and salvaged titles must be disclosed to consumers, you can generally spot a lemon law buyback on a CarFax report pretty easily. If, after the original vehicle purchase, you see that the manufacturer became the owner of the vehicle, you’re most likely dealing with a lemon buyback. Contact the California DMV to verify.

California Lemon Law Statistics

You’ve definitely known people with lemon complaints (maybe even you), but just how many lemons are out there?

  • Of the 15 million automobiles produced annually, 150,000 of them are defective lemons.
  • The average number of lemons made by American automakers (Dodge, Chrysler) is 0.15 per 1,000 cars manufactured. The average number of lemons made by German automakers (Volvo, BMWi) is 0.38 per 1,000. The average from Japanese automakers (Mazda, Kia) is 0.06 per 1,000. Toyota makes just one lemon for every 11 million cars they create, ranking them at the top of the list. Honda is in second place with one lemon per every 2 million vehicles. Last place goes to Fiat. They crank out one lemon per every 76,000 cars produced. 
  • Almost 400 million vehicles have been recalled by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Administration. This figure does not include the 46 million tires, 42 million car seats, and 66 million car parts they have found to be defective enough to merit a recall.

Identifying a Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle

In addition to becoming the legal owner on the chain of title, the manufacturer must request from the state of California that the title be marked “lemon law buyback,” much like salvaged title vehicles must also be clearly labeled. Furthermore, the manufacturer must also place a sticker in the driver’s side door frame reading “Lemon Law Buyback.” When a buyer agrees to purchase one of these discounted vehicles, they must be presented with a regular-size piece of paper (nothing long form) that includes:

  • Why was the car a lemon law buyback in the first place (what was the specific complaint)?
  • What repairs were made trying to resolve the issue
  • Clear language that labels the vehicle as a lemon law buyback

It is important to note that CarFax frequently lists lemon law buybacks as with in-direct, anti-consumer language like “manufacturer re-purchase.” It is also not uncommon for CarFax to not “catch” a lemon. The best way to ID a lemon law buyback, again, is if you see the manufacturer as an owner on title after the first buyer.

California Lemon Law Attorney Here to Help

Did you buy a car that was not labeled as a lemon but shows the manufacturer as the last owner? Did you discover the car you purchased was a lemon law buyback after the transaction was completed? Contact for assistance today.

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, known as The Lemon Law Lady, has dedicated her entire legal career to the specialized field of Lemon Law, a journey that began immediately after her
graduation from UCLA School of Law.

With a 99% success rate and a policy of no fees unless you win, her practice stands as a testament to her expertise in California’s Lemon Law, her commitment to her clients, and her unwavering dedication to justice and consumer rights.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, personally handled over 500 lemon law cases and settlements.