When you purchase a vehicle that doesn’t work as expected or is different than what the dealer told you it was, then you may want to look into the lemon law. Lemon law cars are those that are, frankly, lemons. They are defective and not what the dealer said they were.
What happens to a lemon law car when you take it back to the dealer? That’s where things get interesting.
Manufacturers are required to take action
Manufacturers are required by law to offer repairs to vehicles that have defects within a certain amount of time after a purchase. If they try to make repairs and the vehicle can’t be repaired within a specified time frame, then the manufacturer has to do one of two things. First, they might offer to repay you for your vehicle, essentially giving you a refund. Second, they may offer you a non-defective vehicle in place of your defective vehicle.
Most people stop worrying about what happens next once this part of the issue is resolved, because they either have the money to go purchase another vehicle or they have a vehicle that works correctly.
Interestingly, vehicles returned don’t always get repaired and they may end up back on the market.
Buying back defective vehicles
Manufacturers usually buy back defective vehicles because they’re tough to repair. Lemon law vehicles are then resold by the manufacturers. Sometimes they’re repaired, and sometimes they are not.
You might think that these vehicles would always be listed as lemons or that they’d need to be completely repaired before being sold, but that’s just not how the process works. Depending on the state, there may be a mark on the title to let others know that the vehicle had problems in its history, but this practice is varied between states. As a result, consumers can’t trust that a clear and clean title means that the vehicle is in good condition, because that’s not necessarily the case.
If you’re shopping for a new vehicle, remember that it could be a dud regardless of its title. It’s a good idea to have a mechanic look over it and to look into the model to see if there were recalls or other issues reported.