Could the Washington State lemon law help you resolve your car issue? If you have purchased or leased a defective new vehicle, understanding if the lemon law of Washington applies to you could be the first step toward obtaining compensation. The term lemon law refers to consumer products that are defective or do not function, even after numerous repair attempts.
The WA lemon law has been enacted to protect consumers from such defective or faulty products. Each state has enacted specific laws pertaining to how a car qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the WA lemon law, what you should do if you think your car is a lemon, and lemon law resources.
One of the main things to consider as to whether Washington’s lemon law applies to your case is whether your vehicle is new vs. used. A majority of lemon law state statutes apply only to new cars. However, some states do have provisions under their used car lemon laws.
The issue is specifically linked to your vehicle’s warranty. New cars are sold with vehicle warranties that specify coverage for a specified number of miles or months. It is under the umbrella of this warranty that the lemon law generally applies. For used cars sold by dealers with warranties, coverage under the state’s lemon law may apply. If your state does not have specified lemon laws for used cars and you purchased your used car with a warranty, federal lemon laws may apply.
The following are the key aspects of the WA lemon law. In order for your vehicle to qualify under the lemon law, the following conditions must be met:
• Vehicles covered under the law include vehicles, including new motorcycles, leased or purchased new and registered in the state, excluding buses, vehicles in fleets of 10 or more, living portions of motor homes, or trucks with GVW of 19,000 lbs. or more.
• In order to qualify the vehicle must have had a minimum of 2 repair attempts for same serious safety defect; or 4 attempts for same defect (at least 1 of which is during the period of the manufacturer's warranty); or 30 calendar days (at least 15 of which occur during the manufacturer's warranty).
• The coverage period includes 2 years or 24,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
If the above conditions are met, under the WA lemon law the manufacture or dealer is required to do the following:
• If the manufacturer or the new motor vehicle dealer is unable to conform the new motor vehicle to the warranty by repairing or correcting any nonconformity they shall, at the option of the consumer, replace or repurchase the new motor vehicle.
First, if you want to make a lemon law claim, you’ll need to gather all records associated with the vehicle. Gather detailed records of all problems, repairs performed, and the amount of time your car is unavailable while repairs are being made. Without these documents, proving that your car qualifies as a lemon will be a challenge. If you did not collect documents when problems first arose, ask the dealer for the repair records.
To help you organize your documentation, click on this link for a repair log: Lemon Law Repair Log
Second, in order to potentially invoke the Washington State lemon law, you must communicate with the dealer attempting to fix the vehicle that you feel your car qualifies. If the dealer is not complying, contact the manufacturer directly, detailing the problem. When contacting the manufacturer, specifically ask for their procedure for making a lemon law claim.
A final step you can take is to hire a lemon law attorney. Although it may sound expensive the good news is that the attorney fees are typically free to the consumer. If an attorney who specializes in the WA lemon law loses your case, they don’t get paid. If they win, the manufacturer pays the legal fees.
If you do not feel like the dealer or manufacture has provided sufficient restitution, contacting a lemon law attorney to review your case is definitely worth the effort.
If your situation appears not to qualify under the WA lemon law, there may be another option. A potential resource is the federal lemon law. This statute is called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. In general it falls under the breach of warranty (BOW) theory. Restitution under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is different than under than WA lemon law. Instead of a refund for the defective vehicle, restitution is the difference between the Kelly blue book value of the car in excellent conditions vs. good or poor condition.
Again, if you are unclear if the Washington State lemon law applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be hired at no cost to you to determine if the federal lemon law applies to your case.
If you have specific questions regarding the WA lemon law, you can also contact the Attorney General’s Office at the following address:
1125 Washington Street SE
PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0100
Phone: 1-800-551-4636 (in-state only)
1-206-464-6684 (out-of-state callers)
You can also visit their website at: Washington State Attorney General's Office
The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the Washington State lemon law: BBB State Lemon Law Statutes