Lemon Law Buyback Vehicles

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, because of 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

Upon reacquiring a vehicle because of specified warranty defect(s), 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 to 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.
  • That the vehicle title is marked “Lemon Law Buyback.”
  • The nature of each nonconformity reported by the vehicle’s original buyer or lessee.
  • Any repairs made to the vehicle in an attempt to correct each nonconformity.

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 see if they contain the notation “Lemon Law Buyback.”
  • Ask the dealer/seller if the vehicle was a Lemon Law Buyback. Law requires the dealer to disclose if it was.

What do I Need 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 nonconformities stated by the original owner.
If you decide to purchase the vehicle, the usual transfer documents and associated fees will be required. This includes the:

  • California Certificate of Title properly endorsed for transfer.
  • Transfer fee.
  • Sales/use tax, if applicable.
  • Smog certification, if applicable.
  • Odometer disclosure statement.
  • Registration renewal fees, if the application is presented within 30 days of the registration expiration date.
  • Additional items and/or fees may be needed, based on the type of transfer application. Contact DMV for the exact documents needed to complete your transaction.

For registration fees, see the brochure, Registration Related Fees (FFVR 34). Because fees are subject to change, visit our website at www.dmv.ca.gov for the most current information.

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
1507 21st Street, Suite 330
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: (916) 445-1888
Online at: www.nmvb.ca.gov.

For more information on California’s Lemon Law and arbitration programs, visit the Department of Consumer Affairs website at www.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 (California residents only)
(916) 574-7350 (Sacramento area/out of state)