Washington, D.C. Lemon Law

While federal laws such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act govern product liability and warranties, D.C. lemon laws provide specific protections for owners of new vehicles that are defective.

Lemon laws generally focus on new vehicles. They help consumers get their money back after they purchase a lemon or get their car replaced to one that works as intended.

Warranties are designed to help consumers fix problems related to their vehicles, but a warranty is only effective if the manufacturer will honor it. Lemon laws give D.C. residents a way to enforce warranties in an effective and straightforward way. 

Having an attorney help you with your lemon law claim will increase your chances of getting your money back or a new vehicle. Experienced lemon lawyers in D.C. will be able to walk you through the process and provide helpful strategy advice and insight along the way. 

How Washington, D.C. Defines What a Lemon Car Is 

Every state defines a “lemon” slightly differently. District of Colombia laws only covers new cars. Used vehicles are not addressed under D.C.’s lemon laws.

A lemon car is considered: 

  • A passenger vehicle
  • Sold or registered in the District of Columbia
  • Not a bus sold for public transportation, motorcycle, motor home, or motorized recreational vehicle

The vehicle must also have less than 18,000 miles on it, and the consumer must own it for less than two years. If the car has too many miles or is too old, or both, then lemon laws in D.C. do not apply to it because it is considered a “used” car at that point.

If the vehicle is transferred to another person within the two year period, and it has less than 18,000 miles on it, then the second person could still use DC lemon laws because the car is still considered new.

D.C. Lemon Law Requirements 

Here are the current Lemon Law requirements in our nation's capital: 

  • D.C. lemon laws apply to only new cars and trucks that are designed for passengers
  • The vehicle must also have fewer than 18,000 miles, and the defect must arise within two years of obtaining the vehicle
  • Lemon laws apply to nonconformities, defects, and conditions that significantly impair the operation, safety, performance, or value of the vehicle
  • “Significantly impair” means that it makes the car unreliable or unsafe or reduces its resale value below the average resale value for similar vehicles
  • When there is a defect, the consumer can report it to the authorized dealer, manufacturer, or their agents
  • If the report is made to the authorized dealer, the dealer is required to give the manufactured written notice of the defect within seven days of receiving the complaint
  • Once a complaint is made, the manufacturer or the authorized dealer are required to fix the defect at no charge to the customer
  • If the defect is not fixed after a reasonable number of attempts, then the manufacturer must replace the vehicle with a comparable car
  • They must also refund fees like registration, licensing, and taxes
  • A reasonable number of attempts generally means a repair has been attempted four or more times in the two-year period that you have had the vehicle
  • If the defect is safety-related, then only one repair attempt is required
  • The attempt will also be considered reasonable if the vehicle has been out of operation for repairs for 30 days or more  

New Car Lemon Law in D.C. 

D.C. lemon laws only cover new vehicles. However, it defines “new” as having less than 18,000 miles and ownership of fewer than two years. It also specifically states that lemon laws apply to a second purchaser, but only if that purchaser acquires the vehicle within the first two years and when it has less than 18,000 miles on it. 

That means that D.C. laws do actually cover some used cars, but only to the extent, they are still considered “new” under the law. Leased vehicles generally have the same requirements as vehicles that were purchased outright. 

D.C. Used Car Lemon Law Requirements 

Used cars in Washington, D.C. must still fall under the definition of a “new” car. That means that it must have less than 18,000 miles on it and be less than two years old. If it does not meet that definition, then it is not covered under D.C. lemon laws. 

Breach of Warranty 

D.C. lemon laws play off of the manufacturers’ warranty for new vehicles. However, they do not have the same time limits or coverage that the manufacturer has. Lemon laws in DC are in addition to any warranty that the vehicle manufacturer may have. 

Exceptions to DC Lemon Laws  

D.C. lemon laws have several exceptions. 

For example, lemon laws do not apply to:

  • Motorcycles
  • Motor homes
  • ATVs or other motorized recreational vehicles
  • Buses sold for public transportation
  • Any car that has more than 18,000 miles on it or is over two years old

D.C. Lemon Law Cases  

Robison Lemon Law Group, LLC has helped consumers with issues that severely impact the function and value of their vehicles, including:

  • Electrical systems
  • Cooling systems
  • Fuel systems
  • Transmission
  • Driveshaft
  • Engine problems

Although Robison Lemon Law Group, LLC has been successful in cases that involve these defects, every case is different. A win in another case is not a guarantee that your situation will have similar results. Instead, speak with a member of our team to get a tailored evaluation to fit your unique situation. 

Talk to an Experienced Lemon Lawyer in Washington, D.C.  

Having an experienced lemon law attorney in D.C. will be very beneficial to your case. They can explain the process and help you assert your rights, even if you are unsure what those rights are.

The arbitration process required by D.C. lemon laws can be confusing and overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Let us help you get the compensation that you deserve if your new vehicle has a serious defect. 

Use the Question/Contact form to your right to get started. 

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