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Like most other states, Washington has a Lemon Law designed to protect new car buyers whose vehicles have significant, ongoing mechanical or warranty repair failures.
Washington's Lemon Law allows new vehicle owners in the state to request arbitration from the state's attorney general. There is no charge for the process, through which an arbitrator will determine whether the car buyer's claim qualifies for protection under Washington's Lemon Law.
The arbiter will work with the vehicle's owner and the manufacturer to determine whether the vehicle is in fact a lemon and whether the buyer has made adequate attempts to have the problem repaired. The following count as "adequate attempts:"
- For a serious safety defect, 2 attempts qualifies.
- 4 attempts to repair a noncomformity that's covered under the warranty can mean you've got a lemon.
- If the car has been in the shop for repairs for a total of 30 days and the problem still exists, you might be covered.
What happens if the arbiter decides you've got a lemon? The manufacturer will be required to provide you with a replacement car or a prorated refund.
A Washington vehicle owner may request Lemon Law arbitration as long as 30 months after taking delivery of the vehicle.
Lemon Law protection is limited to new vehicles in Washington, and some circumstances must be met. The following vehicles are not covered by Washington's Lemon Law:
- Motorcycles smaller than 750 cc
- Trucks over 19,000 lbs. gross weight rating
- Motor home sections used as home, work, or commercial space (but the truck and chassis are covered)
- Autos purchased or leased by a business in a fleet of 10 vehicles or more
Washington's Office of the Attorney General has compiled a number of informative resources to help consumers understand the Lemon Law and their rights and responsibilities thereunder. Here's some excellent reading to get you started:
Even though the state's arbitrator will negotiate between you and the car's manufacturer, in some cases the automaker won't give up easily. After all, who wants to issue a refund in the tens of thousands of dollars? If your case is anything but a clear winner, you might want to enlist the support and expertise of a Lemon Law attorney.Organ Donation Survey
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