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California’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights

Just about every U.S. state has some form of the lemon law, under which vehicle manufacturers are forced to buy back defective cars and trucks that they can’t repair.  Under California law, the title of the vehicle is supposed to be branded as a lemon law buyback, and dealers with knowledge of the branded title cannot sell the vehicle to a consumer without disclosing that it was previously repurchased under a state’s lemon law.  Some dealers intentionally fail to disclose that a vehicle was a lemon law buyback in order to get a higher price for the vehicle.

California’s Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights, which was enacted by the Legislature in Sacramento in July, 2006, includes additional protections relating to lemon law buyback in the context of “certified pre-owned” vehicle sales.  In particular, California law now prohibits advertising or selling lemon law buyback vehicles as “certified” used cars.  Doing so can expose the dealer to liability for damages, including punitive damages under Califonia’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (California Civil Code Seciton 1750 et seq.).

Proving Lemon Law Buyback Violations

When a vehicle’s title has been properly branded by the manufacturer after a lemon law repurchase, it is usually relatively easy to prove that the selling dealer knew it was a lemon law buyback.  The brand on the title appears on numerous documents that the dealer has to process relating to the vehicle sale.  So these cases are usually relatively quick and easy to resolve.

More difficult cases arise when vehicle manufacturers buy back cars and trucks in settlements in which they don’t admit liability under the lemon law, and then try to claim that the vehicle was repurchased out of “goodwill” or for some other reason other than to comply with the lemon law.  You will need the assistance of a skilled and diligent California lemon law attorney to investigate and prove this type of claim.