We expect it to be perfect when we buy a vehicle. For seamless production, automakers have factories that are thoroughly tested, fine-tuned and guaranteed with QA. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

If a vehicle’s condition is “lemon”, it is mandatory that the manufacturer refund the customer as well as return the defective vehicle. Manufacturers can then take the defective vehicles back and attempt to sell them again.

What makes a person want to buy a vehicle whose manufacturer has proven to have defects?

These are just a few of the reasons.

Lemon law buybacks are typically sold at massive discounts. These rates could be thousands or even millions of dollars below MSRP. This means that people can buy flashy sports cars at jaw-droppingly low prices, and then try to fix the defect by themselves – even if they don’t have the manufacturer to repair it.

You should be aware that this option comes with some risk. We have provided everything you need regarding purchasing a lemon-law buyback.

What Is a Lemon Law Buyerback?

Let’s begin by discussing what a “lemon buyback” is.

A lemon is any vehicle that meets the relevant state’s criteria. While state qualifications can vary, the basic principles behind lemon law are:

  • The manufacturer sold a defective car to a consumer.
  • The defect is large enough to pose a danger to safety, value, and/or functionality.
  • The defect was NOT caused due to driver negligence.
  • The manufacturer has tried a number of times but failed to resolve the problem.

Once the vehicle meets the state’s criteria of being a lemon it is allowed to be “bought back” by the manufacturer. From this point, the manufacturer can sell it again. However they must clearly state to potential buyers that they are a lemon law buyer.

Does Every Lemon Law Buyback Have a Defective Quality?

Not necessarily. However, most vehicles considered “lemons” are the result manufacturer negligence.

  • A number of parts may have made the vehicle unusable at the time.
  • The manufacturer could have given the vehicle back as a courtesy for a long-standing customer.
  • The defect could have been misrepresented by a consumer, which may result in the cancellation of the purchase contract.

Also, most defects can be fixed. However, it may take many attempts and a lot of money. Vehicles are ruled “lemons” by the manufacturer because they couldn’t make it work after a few attempts. Your personal mechanic might be able fix the problem and bring your vehicle up to peak performance .

Keep in mind that purchasing a lemon-law buyback means you take on some risk.

Manufacturer’s & Dealership’s Obligations


A manufacturer selling a lemon law buyback is legally bound to:

  1. You must indicate that the vehicle has been purchased under lemon law, both on the title or registration certificate.
  2. Change the title of the manufacturer to include the manufacturer’s name.
  3. Decals should be placed on the vehicle stating “Lemon Law Buyback” on both the left and main doors. If the vehicle is open-air (like a scooter/motocycle), the decal needs to be on the right side.


In states that have lemon law for used automobiles, dealerships must:

  1. Provide vehicle VIN, make, type, and year.
  2. Please indicate that the title of vehicle is marked “Lemon Law Buyback”.
  3. Please give a description of any defect found by the vehicle’s original owner.
  4. The results of any repairs done to the vehicle.

Most states don’t have lemon laws for used automobiles. California, for example, has very consumer-friendly lemon laws that protect buyers against defective vehicles being sold at dealerships. This state has lemon lawyers. Before buying a used vehicle, it is worth speaking to one of these attorneys.

Bottom Line: Should You Avoid Buying a Lemon Law Purchaseback?

The simple answer to this is “Yes”, but avoid buying lemon law buybacks.

It is not required that the manufacturer fix the defect if the vehicle is declared a Lemon. They only need to make it clear that the vehicle is a Lemon before selling it.

Even if a defect is reported by the manufacturer, it’s still a bad idea to risk your safety or those of others to save a few bucks.

By Parker

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