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3 Hidden Ways Automakers Try to Avoid Lemon Buybacks

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  February 14, 2024

When you buy a car, you expect it to function properly and meet your needs. However, some unfortunate consumers find themselves stuck with a lemon — a defective vehicle that continues to have problems despite multiple repair attempts. In these cases, lemon laws come into play to protect your rights and ensure you receive a refund or replacement vehicle.

One option available to consumers is a buyback, where the manufacturer buys the lemon car back from the consumer and issues a refund. But here’s the catch: automakers, being for-profit companies, often try to avoid buybacks to minimize their financial losses.

Our California lemon lawyers break down three hidden ways automakers try to avoid lemon buybacks here.


What Is a Lemon Law Buyback?

A lemon law buyback refers to a situation where a manufacturer repurchases a defective vehicle from a consumer and issues a refund. This process is similar to returning a faulty product to a store for a refund. 


How Does a Manufacturer Buyback Work?

When a car is labeled a lemon, the consumer typically has the right to request a buyback. However, you’ll need to meet specific criteria first; this includes giving the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. If the car remains defective and meets the lemon law requirements, you can usually proceed with a buyback claim.

Once the manufacturer agrees to the buyback, they’ll refund the vehicle’s purchase price minus the mileage and time you had the car in your possession.


3 Ways Automakers Avoid Lemon Buybacks


  1. Downplaying the Significance of the Defect
  2. Automakers may try to downplay the significance of the defect outlined in the Lemon Law claim. They might argue that the defect isn’t substantial enough to warrant a buyback. However, interpreting what qualifies as a significant defect can be open to debate.

    California’s lemon law, for example, states that a defect must substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. While common issues like engine or transmission problems are clear-cut cases, other less common problems can also be considered substantial defects. For instance, a recurring check engine light or malfunctioning mirrors could still qualify as significant defects under the lemon law.


  3. Blaming the Driver
  4. Another tactic automakers may use is shifting the blame to the driver. They may argue the defect resulted from driver abuse or an accident, absolving themselves of responsibility for a buyback. To counter this argument, you’ll need to provide sufficient evidence that the defect resulted from a manufacturing defect, not your actions.

    Keep in mind that if your car was involved in an accident, submit a full report of the damage to prove that the crash didn’t cause the defect. Working with a lemon law attorney can help you navigate this argument and present the necessary evidence to support your claim.


  5. Forcing Arbitration or Low-Ball Settlement
  6. Automakers might push consumers into arbitration or offer low-ball settlements to avoid lawsuits. Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process that takes the claim out of the court system and places it before an arbitrator. While automakers may argue that arbitration is a faster and cheaper option, it often favors the manufacturer and reduces your chances of a favorable outcome.

    It’s important to note that arbitration clauses may be included in purchasing agreements, preventing you from filing a lemon law case in court. These clauses strip consumers of their constitutional rights and limit their options. Because of this, you should carefully review purchasing agreements and opt out of arbitration if possible.

    Automakers may also offer low settlements to avoid expensive legal costs. However, if you have enough evidence to support your claim under the lemon law, the manufacturer is responsible for covering your legal fees.

    Don’t be tricked by these tactics; consult a lemon lawyer to get the compensation you’re owed.


Contact Norman Tayor & Associates for a FREE Consultation!

If you believe you have a lemon on your hands and need help with a buyback or replacement vehicle, call 818-244-3905 or contact Norman Taylor & Associates today for a FREE consultation. Our experienced, Los Angeles-based team is dedicated to advocating for consumers’ rights in the county and surrounding areas. 

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