If your car, truck, or SUV qualifies for coverage under California’s lemon law, is under warranty, and develops a significant defect that the manufacturer is unable to repair within a reasonable number of repair attempts, then you will likely be entitled to a lemon law buyback. So what are you entitled to receive in a lemon law buyback? The lemon law establishes two ways in which a manufacturer may satisfy its buyback obligations. Specifically, manufacturers must offer either a replacement or a buyback for your defective automobile. Whichever option you choose, consumers are also entitled to any incidental damages caused by the automobile’s defects and malfunctions.
One of the first and most important things to know about the lemon law’s replacement remedy is that it is entirely optional for both the consumer and the automobile manufacturer. A lemon law replacement happens only when both parties agree on a replacement, as opposed to a buyback. You cannot force a manufacturer to offer a replacement if it doesn’t want to, and a manufacturer can’t force you to accept a replacement. Either party can insist on a lemon law buyback if they choose to do so.
If the parties agree on a replacement, then the manufacturer must replace your defective automobile with a new, substantially identical car, truck, or SUV. Further, the replacement must be delivered to you with all of the warranties that typically accompany that type of new automobile. In other words, your warranty period restarts.
Under California’s lemon law, when a manufacturer provides you with a replacement vehicle, it must also pay all of the collateral charges typically accompanying the sale. This includes any sales tax, license fees, registration, and other official fees. The manufacturer cannot force you to pay any of these amounts.
A manufacturer must also pay any “incidental damages” caused by your vehicle’s defects and repairs. Incidental damages are discussed in greater detail below.
When a manufacturer repurchases your automobile under California’s lemon law, it must pay you the buyback amount less a “mileage offset.” The buyback amount is includes the entire amount “paid or payable” for the vehicle. In other words, it must give you enough money to compensate you for your down payment and all of your monthly payments towards the vehicle and also to pay off the vehicle’s loan. It is not however required to pay any late charges or other penalties that a consumer might have incurred under his or her loan agreement.
The amount the manufacturer pays must include compensation for any transportation charges that you paid when you purchased the automobile, along with any charges for manufacturer-installed options and manufacturer items installed by the dealership. The manufacturer is not required to reimburse you for any non-manufacturer items that were installed by you, the dealership, or anyone else. It is however obligated to reimburse you for any registration fees, license fees, sales tax, and other official fees that you paid when you purchased the vehicle, along with any incidental damages caused by the vehicle’s defects or repairs.
From this amount, the manufacturer is entitled to deduct a mileage offset. The mileage offset is calculated by determining which of the vehicle’s repair attempts is the first repair for the problem that caused your car to become a lemon. The mileage on the car at the first repair attempt (less any miles that were on the vehicle when you purchased or leased it) is then divided by 120,000 and then multiplied by the automobile’s purchase price.
Regardless of whether a manufacturer replaces or buys back your lemon automobile, it must also pay you for any incidental damages that you suffered as a result of your automobile’s defects and repairs. Basically, the manufacturer is obligated to pay you for any damages or harm that were clearly and directly caused by the vehicle’s defects. Although California’s lemon law statute does not permit you to recover money for the frustration or emotional distress caused by your car’s numerous repairs, you can recover compensation for any repair expenses, towing charges, rental or other replacement vehicle charges, cab fare, etc. that you actually paid. If you are on hourly wage employee, then you can probably also recover any wages that you may have lost from having the take your car to and from the repair facility, and you can probably also recover damages for pain and suffering and personal injury if your vehicle’s defect resulted in you being physically harmed.
If you think that your car might be a lemon, or if the manufacturer has already offered a lemon law buyback, and you would like to learn more about what you are entitled to under California’s lemon law, then call the Vachon Law Firm at 1-855-4-LEMON-LAW (1-855-453-6665). We specialize in lemon law lawsuits, and consultations in lemon law cases are always FREE!
Call or email us today to learn more about lemon law buybacks and how California’s consumer protection laws can help.