When you purchase a vehicle, you should know how your rights are protected under the Washington DC Lemon Law in the event that your vehicle turns out to be a lemon. According to information on the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, the lemon law protects purchasers of both new and used vehicles in certain instances when the vehicle does not operate as represented by the seller.
The Washington DC Lemon Law does not apply to private sales of automobiles. For new vehicles, the lemon law holds only manufacturers, its agents or authorized dealers responsible. For used vehicles, only motor vehicle dealers can be held responsible.
What You Need to Know About New Vehicles and the Washington DC Lemon Law
Highlights of the Washington DC Lemon Law as it applies to new vehicles include:
– The buyer takes the vehicle back to the manufacturer or its authorized agent, the dealer, because of a defect or nonconformity during the first 18,000 miles or the first two years after delivery.
– If the manufacturer or its agent, the dealer, is unable to correct the defect after a reasonable number of attempts, or there is a condition which results in “significant impairment of the motor vehicle,” then,
– At the option of the buyer, the manufacturer will issue a refund or a replacement vehicle. The refund shall consist of the full purchase price, including all taxes, fees and other governmental charges, minus up to ten cents per mile in excess of 12,000 miles. If the buyer opts for a replacement vehicle, it shall be with a comparable vehicle.
What You Need to Know About Used Vehicles and the Washington DC Lemon Law
“Used motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle offered for sale in the District of Columbia and which is not within the first 18,000 miles of operation or the first two years after the date of delivery to the original purchaser, whichever is earlier. It does not mean a motor vehicle sold only for scrap or parts.
With respect to used vehicles and the Washington DC Lemon Law, the statute requires all motor vehicle dealers within the District of Columbia to provide written notice of any material mechanical defect and any damage to the motor vehicle caused by water, collision, fire, or other causes for which repairs exceed $1,000 when the defect or damage was known to the dealer, and whether the dealer has conducted any inspection to determine known defects or damage.
“Material mechanical defect” means any defect, failure or malfunction of the mechanical system of a motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, the engine, transmission and drive shaft, differential, cooling system, electrical system, fuel system, or accessories, which significantly impairs the operation, safety, performance, or value of the motor vehicle.
“Reasonable number of attempts” is considered to be four or more unsuccessful repair attempts for the same non-safety related condition and the problem continues to exist, or one or more repair attempts for a safety-related condition, or the motor vehicle is out of service for a cumulative period of 30 or more days for repair of any nonconformities, defects or problems which significantly impair the vehicle.
Keep in Mind
It’s important to note that just because you have had your vehicle in for repairs on multiple occasions and the problem hasn’t been corrected, you are not automatically going to receive either a refund or replacement vehicle. There are certain steps you must follow, including notifying the manufacturer of the problem by letter sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, allowing the manufacturer one final attempt to repair the vehicle, and certain other conditions. You must also submit a claim to the Board of Consumer Claims Arbitration. For more information, contact the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs at (202) 442-4400 or go to their Consumer Protection website.