How does manufacturer buyback work?

Lemon Law

If you discover that you’ve purchased a lemon, you’re probably not only frustrated, but you also want to know what your options are. Fortunately, California law provides a remedy through a manufacturer buyback.

The lemon law buyback process starts by filing a legal claim against the manufacturer. At Neale & Fhima, our attorneys will put the manufacturer on notice and get the ball rolling. Auto manufacturers work hard to defeat lemon law claims because they don’t want to endure the expense or provide a new vehicle. But our attorneys are aggressive and persistent. We are tough negotiators and are determined to secure the best possible outcome for our clients. To prevail in a lemon law claim, you must:

1. show that the defect compromises the use, value or safety of your vehicle
2. make “reasonable attempts” to have a dealership or mechanic repair the defect

This is why it’s important that you have proof you attempted to have the vehicle fixed — keep all repair receipts, work orders and used parts from each one of your repair appointments.

The statute of limitations under California’s lemon law can be limited to four years depending on the facts of your case, so the sooner you file, the better. If you’d like to talk to a California lemon law lawyer, call Neale & Fhima at 877-308-2128 for a free consultation.  We know how to win.

Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.

California Lemon Law

What happens with a car manufacturer buyback?

Whether you purchase a Chevy, Ford or any other vehicle model, you expect it to be reliable, safe, and work as it is intended to.  That’s why it’s so frustrating when your car or truck turns out to be a lemon.

Luckily, California has one of the most consumer-friendly lemon laws in the nation that ensures vehicle owners’ protection.  Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if you purchase a defective car, truck or SUV, you are legally entitled to a refund, or the vehicle can be replaced at the manufacturer’s expense. 

A “lemon” is defined as a car, truck, utility vehicle, SUV, motorcycle, RV, travel trailer or other vehicle type that is defective. Whether the problem started immediately when you drove the vehicle off the dealership lot or it began many months or even years later, the defect is persistent, and mechanics can’t seem to fix it.

Reasonable Number of Attempts to Repair

Before being eligible to file a claim, you need to have made a “reasonable number of attempts” to get your new vehicle repaired. While the law is somewhat vague about how many trips to the mechanic constitute a “reasonable number” of repair attempts, you need to give the dealership a sincere opportunity to fix it first before commencing legal action.


A vehicle is a lemon when it has “nonconformities,” which are defined as any defect or malfunction that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.  Nonconformities significantly restrict the safety, use or value of the vehicle.  There is no requirement under the law that the defect actually endangers you.

Why would a manufacturer buy back a car?

Manufacturers typically only buy back a car when they are faced with a lawsuit that they think they can’t win. That’s why it’s so important to have the best possible lemon law attorney on your side. Our legal team is top-notch, and we have a 99% success rate in these cases!

How long does a manufacturer buyback take?

While every case is different, a lemon law case often a few months to be fully resolved. In some cases when a manufacturer readily complies, it can take less time. In other cases, it can take longer if the manufacturer is stubborn and refuses to negotiate in good faith.

Should I buy a manufacturer buyback?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides guidance about purchasing lemon law buyback vehicles here.  Whether or not you should buy a manufacturer buyback depends on your situation.  A lemon law buyback vehicle is one that has been reacquired by an automaker on or after Jan. 1, 1996, due to warranty defects.  The vehicle is then repaired by the manufacturer and resold to a consumer as a clearly labeled buyback.  This way, a consumer is put on notice regarding the type of vehicle he or she is purchasing.

According to the DMV, the manufacturer must:

1. Request that the California Certificate of Title and the registration certificate be labeled “Lemon Law Buyback”

2. Title the vehicle in the manufacturer’s name

3. Attach a decal to the vehicle, which states “Lemon Law Buyback”

4. The decal will be affixed in one of the following locations:

  • left door frame
  • frame of the major entry into the vehicle, like the front right door frame of a motor home
  • left side of a vehicle without doors, as in the case of a motorcycle

The DMV also has requirements for the seller/dealership. A seller must:

1. Notify the buyer on letter-size paper of the following:

  • The year, make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The vehicle title is marked “Lemon Law Buyback”
  • A descriptions of each defect reported by the vehicle’s original buyer or lessee
  • Any repairs made to the vehicle to correct each defect

2. Tell the truth and acknowledge that the vehicle is a buyback if a potential buyer asks. California law requires dealers to disclose when a vehicle is a buyback.

Whether or not purchasing a buyback is right for you depends on a few factors:

  • Are you willing to take a risk that the vehicle could have additional problems?
  • Is the money you save worth the risk you could be taking?
  • What will you do if the vehicle does have future problems?

Lemon law buybacks are usually sold at significantly reduced prices, often thousands of dollars below the MSRP sticker price. And buyback vehicles are often practically new. A buyback, which is considered a used car, can include an express written warranty. For some consumers – particularly those with a higher tolerance for risk – this can be a very attractive offer. For other consumers who are risk averse, a buyback may not be the right option. It’s really a matter of personal choice depending on your comfort level.

Why Should I Choose Neale & Fhima?

We know that there are a lot of lemon law lawyers in California to choose from, but we believe Neale & Fhima stands head and shoulders above the rest.  That’s because we have an outstanding record of success in handling lemon law claims for our clients!  We have a winning track record, and our attorneys are among the best and the brightest.  The team at Neale & Fhima is committed to each client’s case, and we give you our full attention.  We have received outstanding client testimonials.

Here are a few of the reasons you should choose us:

  • Years of Experience.  Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients throughout Southern California.
  • Our Lawyers Win Cases.  Neale & Fhima enjoys a 99% success rate. We think this says a lot about the skill of our attorneys. While we cannot guarantee the outcome of any particular case, you can take comfort in knowing your claim is being handled by lemon law lawyers who have a track record of success.
  • We Value Client Relationships.  High-volume law offices tend to think of clients as nothing more than a case file. The file gets passed around until it ends up with a paralegal or junior associate who just wants to finish it and move on. Neale & Fhima is different. We enjoy getting to know our clients. It also helps us craft settlement agreements that meet their individual needs.
  • We Know the Law.  California’s lemon law is a fine example of how the state legislature can empower consumers. When it comes to clarity, however, the text of the statute leaves much to be desired. Our attorneys understand the quirks of the statute, as well as the many court opinions interpreting it. We put this knowledge to work for you.
  • No Surprises.  A handful of manufacturers control most of the U.S. auto market. We repeatedly go up against these same companies. This allows us to anticipate how they will respond to claims involving specific models and mechanical defects. Our attorneys will share these insights with you from day one, so you are never in the dark about what to expect.
  • Free Consultations.  We will always discuss your situation with you in a free initial consultation before you make any decisions about a claim.

Contact Neale & Fhima Today

If you’ve purchased a lemon and want to pursue a manufacturer buyback, contact the aggressive attorney as Neale & Fhima. We’ve helped hundreds of clients get the justice they deserve, and we have a winning track record in these cases. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free initial consultation at 877-308-2128.

Attorney Aaron Fhima

Attorney Aaron Fhima is a trial attorney who has secured numerous settlements and verdicts against large corporations and some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. Representing consumers and injury victims throughout the state of California, Aaron’s practice areas include personal injury, and lemon law litigation. Aaron has a long record of success taking on large defense firms; and he doesn’t hesitate to take cases to trial when necessary to enforce his clients’ rights.