California Lemon Law and The Buyback Process

California Lemon Law and The Buyback Process

Does this sound like you and your car? You bought or perhaps leased a vehicle (e.g., SUV, motor home, motorcycle, RV, truck, etc.) and hardly got to drive it or see it because your vehicle has been at a service department, in a repair shop, and in the hands of a mechanic, undrivable for most of your ownership.


Fortunately, you have a few options available, thanks to California’s Lemon Laws, including a California Lemon Law Buyback option. The California Lemon Law was designed for the protection of consumers when facing the reality of having purchased a defective or faulty vehicle. 


What makes a vehicle a lemon and what do Lemon Law Buybacks entail?


A “lemon” is a vehicle with a significant problem, and the necessary repair is attempted at least twice. The issue keeps reoccurring and is not correctable. Generally, these issues are severe and potentially life-threatening, like a repeated brake system failure. 


A Lemon Law Buyback occurs when a lemon (as described above) is repurchased by the manufacturer who recognizes the car as defective. 


Note: A primary factor of qualifying for the Buyback Law is that the vehicle must still be under the manufacturer’s warranty (regardless of whether the car was purchased new, preowned, or leased). 


Some situations may automatically qualify the owner for a buyback: the vehicle problem occurred within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. As mentioned before, you’ve taken the car in for repairs two or more times for a severe enough issue to cause death or serious bodily injury, and it’s still not fixed. Another scenario would be if you have taken your car in for repairs four or more times, but the issue persists. Another qualifying example is if the vehicle has been in a repair shop for more than 30 days (it doesn’t have to be consecutive) for a repair that falls under warranty. 


Additionally, if a severe enough problem occurs beyond 18,000 miles or outside of the first 18 months, you may still qualify.  


What are the results of a successful lemon law buyback?


Once qualified for a buyback and the manufacturer repurchases the vehicle, you are then refunded for the cost of said vehicle and money you paid towards purchasing or leasing the car, like your down payment.


Included in your reimbursement may be money you spent on monthly payments toward your vehicle or the remaining balance of your car loan. Additionally, you are reimbursed for consequential expenses like tow truck fees and repair expenses, and rental car costs.


Lastly, you are entitled to a prorated portion of your vehicle’s registration fees, but a “usage fee” may be deducted from the reimbursement. A “usage fee” is a fee calculated by the amount of time the car was in your possession and considered drivable and problem-free. 


How Long Does a Lemon Law Buyback Take?


The process of filing for a Lemon Law Buyback in California can take as little as a couple of months. Still, it can also take longer- the length of time varies depending on each unique individual, vehicle, and case. The process often goes more smoothly if the owner has kept records of all repairs and receipts or can obtain access to them. 


Admittingly it can be challenging, on your own, to determine if you qualify for the lemon law. Everyone has their own unique set of circumstances that may impact eligibility.


If you believe that you purchased a lemon vehicle and would like to consider the Lemon Law Buyback option, contact a reputable and experienced Lemon Law attorney. Contact Conn Law, PC, at 415-417-2780.


May 25, 2021