Lemon Law Buyback Vehicles

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What is a Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle?

A Lemon Law buyback vehicle is a vehicle that has been reacquired by the manufacturer, on or after January 1, 1996, due to specified warranty defect(s). The vehicle must be registered in the manufacturer’s name prior to resale to a member of the public.

Manufacturer Requirements

The manufacturer must:

  • Request that the California Certificate of Title and registration certificate be marked “Lemon Law Buyback.”
  • Title the vehicle in the manufacturer’s name.
  • Attach a decal to the vehicle, which reads “Lemon Law Buyback.” The decal will be affixed in one of the following locations:
    • Left door frame.
    • Frame of the major entry into the vehicle, such as the front right door frame of a motor home.
    • Left side of a vehicle without doors, such as a motorcycle.

Seller Requirements

When a Lemon Law buyback vehicle is sold, the seller must notify the buyer on letter-size paper of the following:

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

How Can I Tell if a Vehicle was a Lemon Law Buyback?

  • Check for the decal described in the Manufacturer Requirements section.
  • Look at the vehicle’s California Certificate of Title and registration certificate to verify if the wording is stated as “Lemon Law Buyback.”
  • Ask the dealer/seller if the vehicle was a Lemon Law Buyback. Law requires the dealer to disclose if it was.

Requirements Needed if I Purchase a Lemon Law Buyback Vehicle

Prior to buying a Lemon Law buyback vehicle, the seller must notify you in writing of the defects stated by the original owner.
If you purchase the vehicle, transfer documents and fees will be required. This includes the:

  • California Certificate of Title.
  • Applicable registration, transfer, and use tax fee.
  • Smog certification, if applicable.
  • A Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262) for odometer disclosure for vehicles less than 10 years old.

For registration fees, see the Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34) Fast Facts brochure at dmv.ca.gov.

Additional Information

For more information on California’s Lemon Law and vehicles sold by a dealer franchised to sell new vehicles, contact:

Department of Motor Vehicles
New Motor Vehicle Board
PO Box 188680
Sacramento, CA 95818-8680
Telephone: (916) 445-1888
Online at: nmvb.ca.gov.

For more information on California’s Lemon Law and arbitration programs, visit the Department of Consumer Affairs website at dca.ca.gov or request a free booklet, titled Lemon-Aid for Consumers, from:

Department of Consumer Affairs
1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N112
Sacramento, CA 95834
Telephone: (800) 952-5210