By on September 2, 2015


In 37 pages of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s consent order with the government, the unprecedented action mentions little about what life will be like for the cars re-sold by the automaker after being repaired.

At issue are thousands of trucks and SUVs — Ram 1500s, 2500s, 3500s, Dodge Durangos and Dakotas, and Chrysler Aspens — that could be eligible for buyback from the automaker. FCA spokesman Eric Mayne told us in July that FCA has the ability to buy, repair and resell those cars under the order.

The recall order doesn’t address whether those cars would need to be identified as “buyback” cars, which the manufacturer isn’t obligated to disclose. But already, the consent order asks FCA to go above and beyond what the law requires for a while.

Unlike Lemon Law cars, which receive “manufacturer branded” titles, buyers may be relying on the dealer to tell you if the car was purchased and repaired by the manufacturer as part of the large-scale recall. And in the U.S., used car dealers are required to disclose only what they know about the vehicle’s history, including recalls, which may not be much.

FCA has (rightfully) said that the cars it buys back, repairs and re-sells would comply with all applicable safety standards outlined for the cars, and in theory wouldn’t be much different than any other successfully recalled and repaired vehicle.

However, it would be incumbent upon buyers (and even more so, dealers) to uncover their vehicle’s history — if they’re curious — and we all know CarFax is hit or miss.

So the question I have for the B&B is: Should titles reflect whether cars were purchased from manufacturers as part of a non-lemon “buyback?” Would buyers want to know recall history? Should the automaker or dealer be compelled to disclose its history?

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36 Comments on “QOTD: Should ‘Buyback’ Cars Carry a Branded Title?...”

  • avatar

    My first instinct reaction was YES, absolutely.

    But then I thought about it – and branding all these cars which had a defect fixed (let’s assume properly) by a buyback and then a recall doesn’t seem quite fair. It doesn’t punish the manufacturer who put the faulty/crap/poorly tested part in there, it punishes at the dealer level. Now they’re stuck with 40 cars on their lot with what amounts to a half-salvage title.

    Then people who buy these cars later get dinged by CarMax or whoever they try and trade to, because of a fault the manufacturer made what, a decade ago?

    So ultimately I think it punishes the consumer and dealer overall, and not the manufacturer. So I’m against a branded title.

    The solution is to get a CarFax on any potential purchase.

    • 0 avatar

      While I agree with you, Corey, I think your perspective should be realigned.

      Just like lemon law buybacks, the brands are not meant as a way to punish the current owner, but as a way to protect a potential consumer. If a vehicle has been bought back by the manufacturer, shouldn’t a future buyer of that vehicle have the right to know?

      Also, I would assume these buybacks would be the property of the manufacturer. It’s not the dealer shelling out the cash for the buyback. Whether the dealers want to deal with the pain of trying to sell that metal is a choice for them. There is always the auction.

      My bet is the vast majority of these buybacks go through the auction process and end up at BHPH lots where their histories won’t be disclosed.

      • 0 avatar

        Well with those things in mind, then it’s a very valid point. If the manufacturer isn’t forcing them on the dealer – you’re right they’ll end up BHPH, where Chrysler’s credit-challenged customers often shop. And those people have enough struggle with their credit and debt to be saddled with an unmarked buyback.

        I renounce my former opinion. They should be marked.

        • 0 avatar

          Then we must be fair and label all vehicles that have a recall.

          If Fiat had been on the ball more the NHTSA would never have mandated the OPTION for a buy back.

          “NHTSA has continually received complaints from vehicle owners that they have attempted to receive a remedy, only to be told by dealers that parts are not available”….so in other words the NHTSA included the buy back to ensure all vehicles are repaired in a timely manner. What few vehicles are bought back will sit on dealer lots until they are repaired, so its not like there will be a bunch of unsafe vehicles running around on the roads.

          I wager most will opt to get them fixed as the “fair market value +10%” will barely break most people even.

  • avatar

    No. There’s no reason to “brand” a title for a car that has absolutely nothing inherently wrong with it that should impair future use of the car.

  • avatar

    “QOTD: Should ‘Buyback’ Cars Carry a Branded Title?”

    YES! Absolutely and unequivocally.

    And so should Flood cars, like those from Katrina shipped to the desert Southwest states in 2005.

    Many salvage yards and recyclers often buy these to part them out.

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely. (Though the brands DODGE, JEEP, RAM and FIAT on the car should be deterrent enough IMHO)

      Actually, due to the Chrysler, DCX and FCA history, I would NEVER buy any of their vehicles: so many of their vehicles have been recalled / subjected to a TSB and/or bought back for severe safety issues that the government should severely crack down on the company.

  • avatar

    Every Chrysler Aspen should have a branded title.

  • avatar

    Requiring them to be salvage title seems like an obvious thing to do.

  • avatar

    Yes, buyback should carry a branded title.

    This will also be meaningless as mfgs will work around the matter by giving a dealership trade assistance and make another model far more financially favorable than pursuing the legal matter which will end with the mfg holding a branded car and the customer out legal fees and a lot of time/frustration. So in the end the branded title will seldom be applied.

  • avatar

    Once people realize what FCA offers for their vehicle (fair market value +10%) I’m guessing there won’t be many buy backs through this knee jerk mandate unless owners have been contemplating a new purchase anyway. Most will just get them fixed and move on.

  • avatar

    The vehicle should have some sort of permanent branding not because of any sort of impairment to the intrinsic value or usability of the car, but because there is no other way to force the manufacturer to correctly repair every defective car.

    Along with that branding should be a permanent record of what the problem was and what was done to fix it, stored on a manufacturer database and on hardcopies that go with the buy-back branded title.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Yes, factory buy backs should have a branded title. The person who gets screwed is the subsequent buyer of the unit who has no idea of the previous situation. In most cases they are precluded from buying a service contract in the unit in question since most of the service contract providers want nothing to do with a car that had to go back to the factory to be corrected. In some cases these units become the gift that keeps on giving over and over again to subsequent buyers.

  • avatar

    Yes-as in SALVAGE title.

    If a car is so bad that the manufacturer admits they screwed up making it and backs that conclusion with their own cash it is effectively totalled in principle ,if not in physical fact.

  • avatar

    Assuming that the car is repaired under recall, as the law requires, there’s no inherent flaw in a car that the manufacturer buys back in this case. It’s fixed. It isn’t a lemon that has a specific problem that wasn’t readily fixable.

    OTOH, there’s no harm to anyone except the manufacturer (who presumably will receive less money for reselling a ‘branded’ car) if the title notes the buyback. The current owner receives the full value of the car from the manufacturer, the manufacturer eats whatever damage is done to the value, and the future private sellers and owners know the history of the vehicle and can judge its value accordingly.

    • 0 avatar

      There should be no “value adjustment” due to repairs having been completed.

      Is my Taurus worth less because I replaced the starter like a year ago? What if I replace the tie rods? Thats a safety issue, should a future buyer (like Id ever sell it lol) theoreticly pay less for a car with a corrected safety issue?

      Forgive me, but that is about the stupidest thing Ive ever heard. Not far from (paraphrasing) “the manufacturer is the only one it hurts”, as if future owners wouldnt be affected by a “branded” title when they file an insurance claim or sell the car. It gives the impression that the car STILL has the defect, thats how everyone would see it, and its NOT true.

      We brand wrecked cars because they may have resulting defects from the damage they sustained from the wreck. Same with flood cars or biohazard cars. The car’s future is directly affected by what could be on-going issues related to the reason for the brand. That is not the same as simply repairing something when nothing else is or ever would be affected by having replaced it.

  • avatar

    No, they should not. A buyback car is usually from a situation where a particular defect can’t be fixed sufficiently to the customers standards. The manufacturer buys it back, gives the customer some purchase assistance on a new car. The customer is happy and carries on with their life. Afterwards, the manufacturer has as long as it takes to repair the issue. Many of these problems are so intermittent, it may take somebody to drive it for months to verify a repair. Once they are satisfied the problem is resolved, the manufacturer resells the vehicle to try and get some of their money back. If you brand that cars title, they will be way less willing to buy cars back.

  • avatar

    If anything I think that it should have paperwork detailing why the car was bought back, and explaining that the defect was corrected. Especially if that buyback car is turned into a CPO or sold at a “reputable” used car dealer.

  • avatar

    I am firmly of the opinion that there are no unfixable cars – but there are a heck of a lot of truly terrible dealer service departments. So I see no reason for any sort of branding on a bought back car. It got bought back and fixed. It is now as good as any other used car, for better or worse.

    • 0 avatar

      ^exactly, spot on.

      If it has some defect that isnt fixable or preventable, they wouldve been forced to crush them, as Nissan agreed to do when it tried to sell its boxy RWD/mid-engine van here (similar to a Mitsubishi Delica or Toyota “Van”/Magic Wagon/Space Wagon whatever it was lol).

      It had a larger engine installed because the JDM engine was far too underpowered for North America. The larger engine was a very tight fit, and due to the engine location and lack of ventalation, etc, it would get so hot that it would catch the van on fire.

      Nissan purchased back all those who’s owner would sell (they had the option not to) and crushed them.

      I found one like a year ago for $300, way up north of Seattle. It was not a JDM import from Canada, it was the USDM version (LHD, fire-starter engine, old Washington plates). It either didnt run or something, I cant remember, but thats why it was so cheap. That and youd have to have a death wish (and a horrible one at that) to own it.

  • avatar

    I really dont think so. Theyre no longer defective as far as the repaired issue goes. It should be in the vehicle’s service history within Chrysler’s records associated with that VIN, but no lable is required.

    My neighbor, actually a couple of miles up the road, has an Aspen, otherwise known as a sad Durango wearing a Town and Country mask. I hope they take advantage of the buy back because Im sick of looking at it lol.

    Right after they got it, I heard them say (we were in a hardware/auto parts store in town at the same time) they had to sink thousands into their DSM Avenger coupe AGAIN (they were going off about it). The Avenger stopped being driven again a year or so later, then they bought a 92 F-150 with an I-6/5spd (I had stopped to look at it before they bought it), and that is now their second vehicle to the Aspen. I think the Avenger is gone or they moved it around back or something.

    I forget what they had before the Aspen, seems like it may have been a Sebring coupe (akin to the Avenger), but I know it was a Chrysler product. The only non Chrysler (Mitsu clone included) product Ive seen there is the F-150.

  • avatar

    yes. marked or salvage titles for buyback. Most owners won’t go for the +10% or get it fixed, most will…. skip the damn oil changes.

  • avatar

    Not just yes, Hell yes.

    If they do a buy back on a lemon, it is branded a lemon.

    If a car is bought back on a court order, than the new owner should have full disclosure of the vehicle history. Doesn’t matter if it is fixed.

    If I buy a previously wrecked car that was fixed “as good as new” I still have a right to know – in my mind – the same applies here.

  • avatar

    I see Mr Cole has replaced Mr deMuro as the asker of rhetorical questions.

  • avatar

    PSST: Lemon cars are often given to dealers or dumped in ‘parts lots’ of the supply chain to be parted out but have whatever MAYBE defective simply X’ed out for parting. It’s much cheaper than repairing something that may take innumerable hours to resolve and unless it’s interesting enough for R&D to try and figure out the issue it’ll just end up in a lot where the parts go for dealer repairs.

    There is no reason for a recall buyback problem to hit a car with any kind of different title. The reason they offer to buy it back in the first place is largely a logistics issue: The time it would take to repair all known units would be better spent selling them newer units and simply letting the buyback units go out as parts for the other remaining units. It’s not a safety issue at all and really this is just a way for some people who care to be knowledgeable to get an unfair advantage over auto makers. I’m normally for the small guy but the reality is is that middle-men dealers would rack up deals on these units knowing they were branded with a poisoned ID and either hustle them or use them as dealer vehicles because they’re effectively perfect units.

    • 0 avatar

      The vast majority end up repaired by the manufacturer, go to auction and end up on another dealer’s used lot. Very few are parted out.

      • 0 avatar

        Then again, why am I rewarding middle-men with effectively better than used vehicles? They’ve been fully certified and repaired. There is no particular reason to give them a less than perfect title in the interest of some obscure group who probably wouldn’t look to buy them either way.

        • 0 avatar

          They usually end up pretty much the same as any other used car of similar age/mileage. Not fully certified or anything, the issue at hand is repaired then they’re remarketed. They don’t get fully reconditioned or made front-line ready or anything.

  • avatar

    No. Most cars are bought back under lemon laws because of dealer incompetance in fixing them. Many times they returned to the manufacturer and promptly fixed by a competant person, or moved to another dealer where they are promptly fixed. The net effect is no different than any other car that had a repair done under warranty.

  • avatar

    Yes there should be a “Lemon” title branding, but its not gonna happen. Too many state have their own rules and some states don’t even issue titles. I’m honestly not sure what happened to Lemon buybacks in the past, I assume they were resold elsewhere at auctions (but maybe they were destroyed?).

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