Washington State’s Lemon Law, RCW Ch. 19.118, provides an excellent mechanism for consumers to force manufacturers to repurchase or replace “lemon” vehicles. Funded by a $3 fee paid by consumers on all new vehicle purchases (and leases), the Lemon Law program is administered by the Attorney General’s office with arbitrations run by Washington Arbitration & Mediation Service. The process is faster and less expensive than going to court.
The Attorney General’s office has available on its website materials that describe the lemon law process.
In brief, the lemon law:
- New vehicle purchases and leases (if sold in Washington): cars, conversion vans, motorcycles, and motor homes.
- Within 30 months of first retail purchase
- Used vehicles only if first purchaser still would qualify
- 4 repair or diagnosis attempts of same defect and still defective; or
- 2 repair or diagnosis attempts of same serious safety defect and still defective; or
- 30 or more days in for repairs (even if different defects, and even if no longer defective)
- 1 repair or diagnosis attempt of each of two different serious safety defects within a 12 month period.
- But: Motor homes and camping vans have special rules, including 60 days-out-of-service rather than 30 days and a final repair/diagnosis attempt requirement.
- Letter to manufacturer
- Lemon Law Request for Arbitration form filed with Attorney General, 40 days later
- Arbitration (Washington Arbitration & Mediation Service, WAMS)
- Appeal to Superior Court (rare due to disincentives for manufacturer to appeal)
- Repair or repurchase (consumer’s choice)
- Minus mileage offset from date/mileage of first repair attempt or 15 repair-days (30 days for motor homes)
Other Car Fraud Resources
- Washington State Dept. of Licensing (regulates vehicle dealers) www.dol.wa.gov
- Center for Auto Safety (consumer advocacy organization) www.autosafety.org
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (federal vehicle safety agency) www.nhtsa.gov
- Information about vehicles with similar defects www.carcomplaints.com
Out of State Lemon Law Resources: