Lemon Law in Washington
The state of Washington has organized a system to help motor vehicle owners purchase products fairly. Washington laws allow individuals to request arbitration hearings with the Attorney General’s office for motor vehicles that have defects and are still under warranties. In these kinds of hearings there is no charge for arbitration.
During the hearing an assigned arbitrator will determine if an individual’s claim meets lawful lemon requirements. Washington law states that in order for an arbitration request the petitioner does not need to be the original owner.
Lemon laws do not cover every problem that a motor vehicle may have. Negligence and abuse from the owner do not result in lemon findings. Other alterations and modifications are also excluded. Lemon laws do, however, cover substantially impaired defects that alter the safety, use, or value of the vehicle itself.
Most motor vehicles are covered under Washington law, though some are excluded. These include trucks with gross weight rate over nineteen thousand pounds, motor vehicles that were leased or purchased in fleets of ten or more, motorcycles that have engine displacement equaling seven hundred fifty cubic centimeters or fewer, and motor home portions that are being used for commercial spaces, offices, or dwellings. Normally all motor vehicles, motorcycles, and mobile homes qualify.
In order for a motor vehicle to be classified as a lemon it must have a defect that had attempted repair under warranty while in the state eligibility time period. Vehicles may be out of service for a minimum of fifteen days during the period of eligibility for a claim to be approved.
The eligibility time period is not necessary a specific frame of time, though time periods are normally less than the manufacturing warranty coverage of either twelve thousand miles or twelve months. Mileage often plays a significant role in determining lemons. If an attempt to diagnose a defect was within two years of the retail delivery date and prior to twenty-four thousand miles, the vehicle can be determined as a lemon.
Lemons can be difficult to diagnosis and to prevent fraud, Washington has created definitions for lemons. In order for a motor vehicle to be deems a lemon a reasonable number of repair attempts must take place before the expiration of the manufacturer’s warranty. A reasonable number of attempts varies but normally includes three to four attempts.
When a lemon is discovered the manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the motor vehicle. The type of defect a vehicle has can also determine if it is a lemon or not. Defects that are eligible include nonconformity and serious safety defects. If a motor vehicle has been out of service for a total of thirty days, due to continual repairs, it can be classified as a lemon. These days do not necessarily need to be consecutive and can be over several months’ time span.
When a motor vehicle is a lemon the manufacturer is not required to replace any cosmetic alterations from the lemon vehicle, including painting, engine alteration, and system impairment.