Jarrod R. Franks
LTJG, JAGC, USN
Washington Lemon Laws provide for compensation to Washington consumers of defective automobiles and trucks and other vehicles and products including motorcycles, RV’s, boats. Lemon Law compensation can include a refund, replacement or cash compensation.
The Lemon Law provides four different criteria for a vehicle to qualify as a “lemon.” First, if a vehicle has a serious safety defect, the law applies after two unsuccessful attempts to fix that defect. Second, vehicles that have at least two serious safety defects within one year are eligible for Lemon Law relief. Third, if a car has a serious nonconformity – which is less than a safety defect but more than a simple issue – the seller has four attempts to make the repair, though at least one attempt must be made during the vehicle’s warranty period. Finally, if a vehicle is in the repair shop for a total of 30 days, with at least 15 of those days occurring during the first 2 years or 24,000 miles, the Washington State Lemon Law also applies.
If a person believes they are entitled to relief under the Washington Lemon Laws, that person can apply for an arbitration using the Washington Attorney General’s website at http://www.atg.wa.gov/consumer. The process can take four to six months, and the arbitrator can award the vehicle’s sale price or award a replacement vehicle.
The Washington Lemon Law primarily applies to vehicles bought or leased in the state, but active duty servicemembers assigned or living in Washington can use the law if they purchased or leased the vehicle elsewhere.