California consumers in the market for a vehicle have many options. Often, a used vehicle fits into a family budget better than a new car although there are risks involved in purchasing a previously-owned vehicle. For one thing, a buyer does not know the real reason why the vehicle was traded in. In some cases, the prior owner may have simply wanted a newer car, but in other cases, the owner may have returned the car by exercising his or her rights under the lemon law.
When looking at used cars, consumers have the right to know when a vehicle was reacquired by the manufacturer because its owner tried unsuccessfully to have serious defects repaired. It is common for those lemon law vehicles to end up right back on a car lot for another buyer to purchase. However, the manufacturer and dealers are required to inform potential buyers of the car's status as a lemon.
Federal law requires the manufacturer to retitle the car as a "Lemon Law Buyback" and to place decals in several places on the vehicle to warn buyers. Any warranty the buyer receives must also notify the consumer of the status of the car and describe the issue that resulted in the manufacturer's buyback. The warranty must also list any repairs the manufacturer made to attempt to remedy to defect.
Before selling a vehicle, the dealer is obligated by law to inform the consumer in writing if the vehicle was repurchased under the lemon law. If a potential buyer asks about the lemon status of a vehicle, the dealer must reveal whether the car is a lemon and provide the appropriate documentation. A consumer who purchases a lemon law buyback without receiving the proper disclosures has every right to seek legal assistance from an experienced California attorney.