buyer beware – especially with used cars

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Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of purchasing a “lemon,” a car or other vehicle that you find out does not run properly after you purchase it. Whether Washington residents have any remedy for this problem depends:

Was the vehicle new or used?

Used vehicles. Many used vehicles are bought “as is” and are no longer under warranty. Under those circumstances, the buyer has few options to have the problem corrected. When it comes to used vehicles in Washington,
buyer beware. It is a good idea to have a mechanic thoroughly check out a used vehicle before signing on the dotted line.

New vehicles. Washington has a “lemon law” that applies to new vehicles. It is in Chapter 19.118 of the Revised Code of Washington.

The vehicle manufacturer has the duty to repair a new “lemon.” The work done is charged to the manufacturer as warranty work. If the defect is not repaired, then you can opt to have the manufacturer repurchase or replace your vehicle.

If the manufacturer refuses, any citizen may request an arbitration hearing through the Attorney General’s office. This arbitration is free of charge, because every driver pays a $3 Lemon Law Arbitration fee when they renew their vehicle registration.

The goal of these arbitration hearings is to come to an agreement between the purchaser and the manufacturer of the vehicle. Although you still need to pay your car loan payments while the arbitration is ongoing, if you win, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace your vehicle. You are eligible to request these hearings within two years or 24,000 miles of use, but typical warranties only extend for one year or 12,000 miles of use, so it is advantageous to request a hearing earlier rather than later if you suspect you have bought a lemon.

Remember:
caveat emptor – buyer beware – especially with used cars.