Buyback Recalls Overview

The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 requires manufacturers to remedy vehicles with safety defects or failures to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard(s). 49 U.S.C, § 30120 The Act contemplates that some safety defects or standard noncompliances may be too difficult or too expensive to repair and gives the manufacturer the option of refunding the purchase price or replacing the vehicle as follows.

§ 30120. Remedies for defects and noncompliance
(a) Ways to remedy.
(1) Subject to subsections (f) and (g) of this section, when notification of a defect or noncompliance is required under section 30118(b) or (c) of this title, the manufacturer of the defective or noncomplying motor vehicle or replacement equipment shall remedy the defect or noncompliance without charge when the vehicle or equipment is presented for remedy. Subject to subsections (b) and (c) of this section, the manufacturer shall remedy the defect or noncompliance in any of the following ways the manufacturer chooses:
(A) if a vehicle
(i) by repairing the vehicle;
(ii) by replacing the vehicle with an identical or reasonably equivalent vehicle; or
(iii) by refunding the purchase price, less a reasonable allowance for depreciation.
(B) if replacement equipment, by repairing the equipment or replacing the equipment with identical or reasonably equivalent equipment.
(2) The Secretary of Transportation may prescribe regulations to allow the manufacturer to impose conditions on the replacement of a motor vehicle or refund of its price.

There have been but a handful of vehicle repurchase recalls campaigns. NHTSA does not make it easy to find them when searching its website. The authors have identified as many of these as possible and list them at List of Buyback Recalls.