What are "buyback" and "branded title" vehicles?

June 4, 2018

Dear Consumer Ed:

What do “buyback” and “branded title” mean on a used vehicle?

Consumer Ed says:

A buyback vehicle is a commonly used term for a vehicle that was reacquired by a manufacturer under a state lemon law. Georgia’s Lemon Law covers new motor vehicles that are sold or leased in Georgia or to Georgia consumers. When a consumer prevails under Georgia’s Lemon Law, he or she may choose to have the manufacturer either reacquire (“buy back”) or replace the defective vehicle. If, after reacquiring the vehicle, the manufacturer repairs the defect, the vehicle may then be sold or leased. The manufacturer must provide the dealer that reacquires the vehicle with a notice form disclosing the reason for the reacquisition.  In turn, the dealer must allow a prospective consumer the opportunity to read the notice before the sale or lease of the reacquired vehicle. Both the dealer and the consumer must sign and date the notice, and the original must be given to the consumer. The manufacturer is also required to provide a warranty for the problem that was defined as the defect resulting in the reacquisition for a period of one year or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

A branded title refers to the state of the vehicle. A title could be branded “salvaged”, “total loss”, “flood”, “water” or “fire”.  In Georgia a vehicle is considered salvaged when 1) two or more component parts of the vehicle must be replaced in order to make the vehicle operable again; or 2) an insurance company has paid a  “total loss claim” and the vehicle has not been repaired; or 3) when an imported vehicle has been damaged in shipment and has never been the subject of a retail sale and has never been issued a title; or 4) when another state has titled and branded the vehicle as “Total Loss,” “Fire”, “Flood”, or “Water” .  Salvaged vehicles cannot be operated legally on public roads in Georgia, although salvaged vehicles that have been rebuilt or restored and undergo successful completion of the Rebuilt Inspection Process can be issued a rebuilt title.

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