Steps of a Lemon Law Buyback in California

Car manufacturers use beautiful words to describe their vehicles; durable, consistent, sturdy, reliable, and smooth. While most live up to the billing, some are major disappointments. 

They develop recurring problems in crucial areas like the transmission, engine, exterior lighting, and vehicle speed control. Surprisingly, despite the efforts of affected consumers to fix these defects, they might be unsuccessful.

As a result, those who buy or lease these vehicles incur huge repairs costs and inconvenience. Fortunately, California lemon laws were designed to offer a solution to affected car owners. A manufacturer can either refund your purchase price or buy back the affected unit.

More importantly, the affected car owner should meet all conditions and steps to obtain a buyback without hitches. If you want a smooth buyback procedure, consider consulting an experienced California lemon law attorney.

Let’s explore the steps of a lemon law buyback in California.

Understanding Lemon Law Buyback

Primarily, lemon law buyback applies to new or used vehicles that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.

Vehicles that can qualify as lemon cars include:

  • Pickup trucks, cars, SUVs, and vans
  • Demonstrators and vehicles owned by dealers
  • Vehicles bought or leased for business, household, or personal purposes
  • Motorhome’s chassis, drive train, or chassis cab.

More importantly, a vehicle under warranty can only qualify as a buyback if the manufacturer fails to repair it after a ‘’reasonable number of repair attempts’’. Then, a manufacturer has two options; replace the vehicle or refund its purchase price(buyback).

California lemon law has presumption guidelines that determine whether a manufacturer has made a reasonable number of repair attempts.

These guidelines are as follows:

  • The manufacturer or dealer hasn’t fixed the vehicle defect after four or more attempts.
  • The vehicle has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days(not necessarily consecutive) for repairs of a defect covered by warranty.
  • The defective vehicle could cause death or serious bodily injury if driven, and the manufacturer has made at least two unsuccessful repair attempts.

If your vehicle qualifies under the above criteria, you can request a manufacturer for either a replacement or buyback. For a buyback, the manufacturer should refund the cost of the vehicle less mileage offset.

In addition, if the consumer acquired the vehicle through a lease, the proceeds would cover the down payment, monthly payments, or the remaining balance.

Step-by-Step Guide of Lemon Law Buyback in California

Step 1:Take Your Vehicle to an Authorized Dealer

When a vehicle develops a problem covered by the new vehicle manufacturer’s warranty, it’s within your right to visit the authorized dealer. By principle, lemon law allows manufacturers to fix vehicle defects after receiving a consumer complaint.

For a vehicle defect to trigger a buyback, it should substantially impair its value, use, and safety. It doesn’t mean the vehicle needs to be immobile; instead, the defect should have a substantial impact.

Here’s an explanation of vehicle defects:

  • Impairs vehicles use: The vehicle defect should impair the vehicle’s intended use. For instance, the consumer bought the vehicle to drive across states. However, with time it developed a transmission defect that made driving the vehicle for long distances uncomfortable.
  • Impaired value of the vehicle: Besides the monetary terms, many aspects impact its value. For instance, a car whose driving experience was smooth suddenly starts rattling or producing thick smoke.
  • Impaired safety: Substantial defects should also make you feel less confident or fear for your safety.

Here are examples of defects that are covered by lemon laws.

  • Brake failure
  • Electrical defects
  • Unresponsive steering
  • A defective anti-lock brake system
  • Engine failure
  • Stalling
  • Problematic seat belts
  • Power steering loss
  • Acceleration problems
  • Defective airbags

Step 2: Keep a Record of Repair Attempts

Once you’ve informed the dealer about your problematic vehicle, give them time to resolve the defect. Remember, a dealer may not solve oil consumption problems effectively in a single dealership visit.

In fact, the dealer may order an oil consumption test to understand the defect. So, whether you allow the dealer four repair attempts or two, you’ll need to keep an account of the dealer visits and repairs.

Therefore, maintain accurate and detailed repair records after you realize your vehicle might be a lemon. Some of the records you can keep include repair receipts and invoices.

Repair receipts, for instance, provide proof of attempted repairs and evidence of a defect that the dealer has consistently failed to solve. To that end, ensure your repair receipts contain complete and accurate information.

Anytime you receive a repair receipt, check its completeness. Remember, partial and incomplete information will make it harder to validate a claim. 

Here are the basic items that a complete receipt should have:

  • A written date indicating when you took the car for repairs
  • A list of parts that the dealer replaced during repairs
  • A general description of why you took the vehicle for repairs
  • Description by the mechanic on the problem and repairs done
  • Name of the vehicle technician
  • Repair location

Complete repair receipts and documentation are a bonus to your claim. It’ll make it easy to process and prove your claim. On the contrary, insufficient or incomplete records can cast doubt on your claim with a risk of being deemed illegitimate.

Step 3: Work with a Lemon Law Attorney to File a Claim

Although consumers have a right to claim a refund or a replacement, it’s difficult to negotiate with manufacturers. You’ll need legal help to compile the necessary documentation, calculate the buyback amount, and develop a convincing case.

Here’s how a lemon law attorney can help your buyback claim:

  • Power to deal with manufacturers: Despite lemon laws’ clarity on buybacks, manufacturers always find ways to shortchange consumers. It’s ill-advised to deal with a manufacturer directly, as they can trick you into accepting low amounts.

Equally, a manufacturer may advise you to pursue repairs that won’t solve the problem. Fortunately, an attorney works in the client’s best interest. Their understanding of lemon laws also speeds up the claim process.

  • Legal Advice: A lemon law attorney will offer you legal advice on whether your case has merit. In addition, an attorney can help you interpret the ‘’a reasonable number of repair attempts’’ clause before pursuing a buyback claim.
  • Represent you in court or during arbitration: If the manufacturer fails to honor your buyback request, the last resort involves seeking the court’s intervention. An attorney will help you with the litigation process, which is stressful and time-consuming.

Luckily, if you succeed, the manufacturer will be compelled by the courts to pay the legal fees.

Lastly, the lawyer can help you claim a lemon law buyback by submitting the documentation and a formal request to the automaker. 

Step 4: Compliance With Lemon Law Buyback Terms

If the manufacturer agrees with your buyback request, the lawyer will be allowed to comply with all the buyback terms. Generally, a manufacturer may open a mass buyback widow to counter the negative publicity associated with defective vehicles.

At this point, work with your attorney to ensure your claim complies with set timelines and documentation.

Step 5: Accept the Buyback Offer

After lengthy negotiations, it’s time to close the buyback claim. You’ll need to deliver the defective vehicle to authorized dealers or appointed yards. Consequently, the dealer will issue a payment that is open for use.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Lemon Law Buyback Formula in California?

The buyback value of a lemon car is based on the following:

  • The loan balance
  • Monthly payments
  • Down payments
  • Registration fees and taxes.

A point to note: Buyback calculators do not include attorney fees and legal costs and are only effective for populating an estimated amount.

How Long Does a Lemon Law Buyback Take?

It’s rare to have your lemon law case resolved within a month. On average, buybacks take 3-6 months to conclude. Once a manufacturer receives your formal claim, they take 4-8 weeks to review and verify the records.

Once the review is done, a manufacturer will let you know whether they’ve accepted your buyback request. Then, the manufacturer will issue a notice with instructions on modalities to bring in the lemon vehicle in exchange for payment.

Ultimately, each case is unique, with mass buybacks being processed faster.

Should I Buy a Lemon Law Buyback Car?

Lemon cars are everywhere; dealerships, auctions, private sellers, and fleets of public and local companies. What’s more, buybacks are always cheaper than other vehicles on offer. You may therefore find yourself negotiating to buy one or being lured by its discounted price.

Even so, a professional mechanic should inspect any vehicle you consider buying. This is an essential control for lemon law vehicles. Work with a mechanic to verify whether repairs that were done before the buyback are still intact.

Speak to an Experienced California Lemon Law Attorney

It’s possible to miss out on lemon law buyback for various reasons, including improper documentation or legal technicalities. However, you can maximize your chances of success by working closely with an expert in buyback cases.

At Lemonlaw123, we have a highly knowledgeable and experienced team of lawyers, which explains our huge success rate in Ford lemon law buyback cases.

Contact us online or call us at 657-220-6877 for a free case review.

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.