The California lemon law statute requires automobile manufacturers to either repurchase or replace any cars or trucks covered by their warranties when they cannot repair an automobile within a reasonable number of attempts. The repurchase or replacement remedy is typically called a lemon law buyback.
This page explains what you are entitled to if you qualify for a buyback under the lemon law. Click here to learn about the replacement remedy, here for the repurchase remedy, and here to find out about the advantages of having an attorney start your lemon law claim for you.
If the Manufacturer Replaces Your Car You Are Entitled to a Substantially Identical New Car - But Must Pay For Your Use of the Vehicle
The California lemon law’s vehicle replacement remedy is spelled out in Civil Code Section 1793.2(d)(2)(A), which states:
In the case of replacement, the manufacturer shall replace the buyer’s vehicle with a new motor vehicle substantially identical to the vehicle replaced. The replacement vehicle shall be accompanied by all express and implied warranties that normally accompany new motor vehicles of that specific kind. The manufacturer also shall pay for, or to, the buyer the amount of any sales or use tax, license fees, registration fees, and other official fees which the buyer is obligated to pay in connection with the replacement, plus any incidental damages to which the buyer is entitled under Section 1794, including, but not limited to, reasonable repair, towing, and rental car costs actually incurred by the buyer.
Thus, if you are entitled to a lemon law buyback, and opt for a replacement automobile, you are entitled to a “substantially identical” car or truck that comes with all the warranties that typically accompany the vehicle. You are also entitled to be reimbursed for your “incidental damages,” which includes any money that you had to pay as a result of your lemon vehicle breaking down (e.g., towing charges, rental cars, repair expenses, etc.).
Although you get a brand new vehicle under the lemon law’s replacement remedy, you will also have to pay the manufacturer some money for the use that you received from your lemon vehicle. That being said, you only have to pay for the miles that you put on your lemon vehicle prior to the first repair attempt for the problem that rendered it a lemon. See the Lemon Law Mileage Offset page to see how to calculate the applicable offset.
Want to avoid having to pay the mileage offset? Jump down to this page’s discussion on the advantages of having an attorney file your lemon law Claim for you.
In a Lemon Law Buyback, What is a "Substantially Identical" Automobile?
If you are interested in getting a replacement vehicle for your lemon law buyback, you probably are wondering what a “substantially identical” vehicle means. As a practical matter, it means whatever you and the manufacturer agree to be an equivalent automobile.
Under the California lemon law statute neither the lemon automobile owner nor the manufacturer are entitled to force the other to use the replacement remedy. Therefore, if either elects a vehicle repurchase, instead of replacement, then the repurchase remedy must be used. That means that you can’t force the manufacturer to give you a vehicle that it doesn’t want to give you, and the manufacturer can’t force you to accept a replacement automobile that you are not willing to accept. Because neither party has a right to insist on a particular vehicle “substantially identical” effectively means whatever you and the manufacturer agree to.
If You Elect a Repurchase for Your Lemon Law Buyback You Get All of Your Money Back, Less the Mileage Offset
If you are entitled to a lemon law buyback and elect a vehicle repurchase, then Section 1793.2(d)(2)(B) specifies how much money you must receive. It states:
In the case of restitution, the manufacturer shall make restitution in an amount equal to the actual price paid or payable by the buyer, including any charges for transportation and manufacturer-installed options, but excluding nonmanufacturer items installed by a dealer or the buyer, and including any collateral charges such as sales or use tax, license fees, registration fees, and other official fees, plus any incidental damages to which the buyer is entitled under Section 1794, including, but not limited to, reasonable repair, towing, and rental car costs actually incurred by the buyer.
Essentially, this means that in a lemon law buyback you get back the entire purchase price (including all sales taxes, registration fees, etc.) and you get paid for all manufacturer installed options included with the vehicle, but not for any aftermarket options installed by either you or the dealership. You also are entitled to your “incidental damages,” which includes things like towing charges, rental expenses, repair costs, etc.
Before the manufacturer pays you this buyback amount, it is entitled to deduct from the payment a charge for the amount of use that you got out of the lemon automobile. However, you only have to pay for the miles that you put on your lemon vehicle prior to the first repair attempt for the problem that rendered it a lemon. See the Lemon Law Mileage Offset page to see how to calculate the applicable offset.
Want to avoid having to pay the mileage offset? Keep reading to learn about the advantages of having an attorney file your lemon law claim for you.
Advantages of Having an Attorney File Your Lemon Law Buyback Claim
There are lots of advantages to having a lemon law attorney file your lemon law buyback claim for you. Not only are you assured that your claim will be filed professionally and efficiently, but in many cases you can avoid having to pay the mileage offset that you would typically be responsible for in a lemon law buyback.
The reason for this is that under the lemon law statute automobile manufacturers have to pay the vehicle owner’s attorney’s fees and costs incurred in obtaining the buyback. Thus, if you pursue a lemon law buyback claim by yourself the manufacturer has no incentive to pay anything more than the bare minimum to which you are legally entitled. However, when you have a lemon law attorney representing you, the manufacturer knows that in addition to providing you with a lemon law buyback it will also have to pay your attorney’s fees and costs. Thus, the manufacturer has an incentive to resolve the case quickly, so that you don’t incur additional attorney’s fees. As a result, in many cases manufacturers are willing to waive the mileage offset in order to quickly resolve the matter.
Because the California lemon law statute permits a lemon automobile owner to force the manufacturer to pay his or her attorney’s fees and costs, there is no reason not to obtain the representation of an expert lemon law attorney. In many cases, an attorney can resolve the case for more money than if you were to represent yourself.
Call to Learn More About Lemon Law Buybacks
The Vachon Law Firm offers free consultations and typically starts lemon law cases for “no money down.” If you want to find out more about lemon law buybacks, or are interested in starting a lemon law claim, call us toll free at 1-855-4-LEMON-LAW (1-855-453-6665), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.