Simply put, a lemon law buyback title vehicle is a car that has been bought back by the manufacturer because of warranty defects, and the lemon law does apply to used cars, as this law takes effect for cars bought back from the manufacturer on or after January 1, 1996 according to the CA DMV.
In order to qualify for a lemon buyback title, the car in question must have a warranty-covered defect within a certain amount of time or driven miles after purchasing the car, and not be fixed after several repair attempts by the manufacturer. By the Lemonlaw website’s standards, if your car (new or used) has been to a shop at least three times for the same problem, it may qualify as a lemon.
The origins of calling a car a “lemon” are unknown, suffice it to say “lemon” refers to an inferior product attempted to pass off as a decent one. An example of a lemon car is the most recent generation of the Ford Focus, specifically earlier years equipped with the Powershift dual clutch transmission. This transmission had a shuddering problem that for a long time was not recognized by Ford as a legitimate problem, and eventually petitions were introduced to make the Ford Focus an official lemon car.
Buying a lemon title car effectively means you are willingly spending money on a broken car. Had the car been repaired, it would no longer qualify for the lemon buyback title. Lemon title cars are indicated as such fairly clearly, as the manufacturer must request that the registration and title be labeled as “lemon law buyback,” the title must be in the manufacturer’s name, and a decal must be attached to the vehicle that says “lemon law buyback.” A dealer is legally required to inform a buyer if the vehicle in question has a lemon title.
With all this in mind, you should be well-aware that you’ve bought a lemon title car. You can check yourself on lemonlaw.com, to see if your current car qualifies. Consequently, if you’re trying to sell your lemon title car, you need to notify the buyer of its condition.
If you’re trying to sell your lemon title car, it may make the process slightly easier if you show you’ve made an attempt to fix the problem. Keep service records and show potential buyers what you’ve taken the car in for, and that you’ve at least tried to correct it.
It’s entirely a judgment call, but if you’re considering a lemon title car be sure to review the vehicle’s history and find out exactly what the problem was that caused the lemon title. Conventional wisdom says it is not the best idea especially when cars cost so much in the first place, without already being broken. So if you do, proceed with caution and make sure you get a mechanic’s inspection before purchase.
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