A recall of more than 2,100 2022-2023 Chevrolet Malibus may lead General Motors to buy back vehicles from their owners. According to the recall, affected cars may have improperly welded frames. This fundamental structural defect could lead to severe injuries if the cars are involved in a crash.
The issue was discovered by a General Motors employee. According to the report, “The sheet metal blank for the front frame rail outer panel was improperly loaded into the die by the supplier, resulting in a front frame rail that was cut 10 millimeters short of its intended design. The shortened frame rail prevented proper welding of the front impact bar to the front frame rail.”
Ten millimeters, or about a fifth of an inch, doesn’t sound like a big deal. However, the faulty welds it caused are a major problem. The front frame rail, also known as the front impact bar, plays a critical role in maintaining the vehicle’s structural integrity, protecting occupants in a crash, and supporting the performance of the front crash sensors. Accidents become more likely if the welds holding this bar fail, and the risk of injuries skyrockets.
Because this defect is so fundamental to the car’s construction, Chevrolet does not intend to attempt to fix vehicles that demonstrate the problem. Instead, the manufacturer will buy them back outright. Drivers whose cars are found to have faulty welds upon inspection will be refunded the total purchase price of the vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about manufacturer car buybacks like this and how to get a manufacturer to buy back your car without a recall.
When Do Manufacturers Buy Back Cars?
There are two situations when a manufacturer may buy back your faulty vehicle: when they issue a recall for a major defect, as with the Malibu, or when your individual vehicle has a severe and unrepairable manufacturing flaw.
Recalls for manufacturing defects are relatively common. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records hundreds of recalls yearly. Manufacturers are obliged to issue recalls for any manufacturing issue that is known or likely to affect the safety of multiple vehicles. These recalls can affect anywhere from a few dozen cars to tens of thousands of vehicles, depending on what went wrong. However, a recall that leads to a buyback is significantly rarer.
This is because buying back a car is expensive. It usually only occurs if the problem is fundamental to the structure of the vehicle, completely unrepairable, and likely to put the owner or others in danger. That’s the case with the Malibu recall and buyback. In recall buybacks like this, you will usually receive the total purchase price for the vehicle, including sales tax.
However, manufacturers may also buy back individual cars for warranty problems. This usually occurs after the owner has filed a lemon law claim. In California, vehicles are eligible for lemon law claims if they have severe safety defects that the manufacturer can’t repair in two attempts or less dangerous but still problematic flaws that aren’t fixed in four tries. In these buybacks, you may receive up to the vehicle’s purchase price, including sales tax, and a refund for any money you’ve spent out-of-pocket trying to repair the car or rent a replacement vehicle.
What to Do If Your Brand-New Car Has Major Problems but No Buyback Recall
If your car has a dangerous manufacturing defect, the best-case scenario is that the manufacturer issues a recall and buyback. However, this is very rare. You will likely need to pursue a lemon claim to get a refund for your vehicle. Here’s how to kickstart the process:
1. Know Your Consumer Rights
California has some of the country’s best consumer protection and warranty laws. If you bought your car in California, you have the right to file a lemon claim if:
- The vehicle is under warranty.
- It has a significant manufacturing defect that was first identified within 18 months or 18,000 miles of driving time, whichever is less.
- The manufacturer has failed to repair it after a reasonable number of attempts, as described above, or the vehicle was out of service for 30 or more days since you purchased it due to warranty issues.
- The problems were not caused by your actions.
If your vehicle meets these criteria, you’re protected by state law and could have the manufacturer repurchase it.
2. Take Your Car to the Dealership Mechanic Immediately
If you haven’t already given the manufacturer a reasonable number of chances to fix the problem, now is the time to start. Taking your car to unaffiliated dealerships does not count toward the manufacturer’s vehicle repair opportunities. General Motors dealership mechanics are obliged by the warranty to repair manufacturing defects for GM and Chevy vehicles at no cost to you. If they do charge you, you’ll be able to request a refund for those fees if you file a lemon claim.
3. Keep Records of the Problems
You need to prove that your car has the problems you claim it does. Keep all receipts and paperwork given to you by any mechanics who inspect the vehicle, whether or not they are affiliated with the manufacturer. In addition, take pictures or videos of your car when it displays the issue, just in case it’s an intermittent problem that the dealerships can’t replicate. This is invaluable evidence for your lemon claim.
4. Work With an Attorney to File a Lemon Claim
Car companies do not want to buy back cars. They have teams of lawyers that work to deny lemon law claims and refunds. If you want to file a successful claim, it’s best to consult an experienced lemon law attorney. At Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys, we’ve spent time on both sides of the industry, so we know exactly how to fight back against manufacturers who don’t want to buy back your car. Get in touch today to discuss whether you have a claim and how to take the next step toward getting a refund for your lemon of a car.