Under the District of Columbia lemon law, any owner of brand-new vehicle may qualify for a full refund or replacement automobile if the car in question is defective and unrepairable.

For instance, consumers who purchase a new vehicle in the District of Columbia may qualify for compensation under these laws if they file a complaint within two years of purchasing the vehicle, or before the automobile odometer reads 18,000 miles.

To qualify for compensation under the car lemon law, however, the defect must significantly impair the vehicle’s market value, safety and operation.

Moreover, consumers may hire a lemon law attorney if they wish to obtain legal assistance when filing a claim. Many free mediation services are also available to DC residents who wish to file claims under these laws.

To learn more about these consumer protection laws and the benefits of hiring a lawyer after purchasing a qualifying lemon, review the information below.

What is the District of Columbia Lemon Law?

The District of Columbia car lemon law protects consumers who purchase unreliable, unsafe or defective motor vehicles. However, the vehicle must be new and have valid vehicle registration papers in the District of Columbia, as out-of-state automobiles are not covered under the law.

Also, these laws do not cover motor homes, motorcycles, recreational vehicles or used cars. As part of the lemon law definition, the following must also apply:

  • The defect must occur before the vehicle reaches 18,000 miles, or within two years of its purchase date (whichever date comes first)
  • The defect must significantly impair the vehicle’s use, safety or average resale value

Under the lemon law, consumers may obtain a full refund or replacement vehicle if the above conditions apply. Before consumers may qualify for compensation under these lemon laws, however, the vehicle’s manufacturer must attempt to repair the automobile at least four times.

If driving the car would be unsafe or life-threatening to the vehicle owner, one or more attempts to repair the vehicle are acceptable under this law.

Moreover, vehicles that are “out of service” by reason of repair may qualify as lemons if they have been undrivable for at least 30 cumulative days since the original date of purchase.

Does the District of Columbia Lemon Law apply to used cars?

There is no used car lemon law in the District of Columbia, as these laws only apply to new motor vehicles. Thus, there is no “30 day lemon law used cars” policy enacted.

For those who purchase used vehicles in the state, it is wise to request a vehicle history report to review the life of the car and any issues that should be flagged. In addition, inquire about extended warranty options for used vehicles in the state prior to purchase.

How does the Lemon Law work in the District of Columbia?

Under the District of Columbia new car lemon law, consumers may file complaints and request full refunds for defective vehicles. In addition, after buying a new car, a consumer can choose to obtain comparable replacement automobiles. To illustrate further:

  • Consumers may request a replacement vehicle to receive a new, comparable automobile from the manufacturer.
  • Consumers may return the vehicle to the manufacturer to obtain a refund for the full purchase price of the vehicle, as well as reimbursement for vehicle sales tax and licensing and registration costs.

Before filing a complaint under the car lemon law, however, a consumer must first bring the vehicle to an authorized dealership with a staff who can attempt to correct the issue.

If the vehicle is covered under a manufacturer’s lemon law warranty, or otherwise, the manufacturer will likely cover the cost of the repairs.

However, consumers must bring their vehicles to authorized dealerships or repair shops, and they must retain copies of any invoices or receipts.

As part of the state lemon law, consumers may file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) if their vehicles cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, or their cars are deemed unsafe to operate.

To file a complaint, vehicle owners may contact the OAG’s Consumer Protection division by phone, or they may submit a written request, if preferred.

District of Columbia Lemon Law Lawyers

A vehicle owner may hire a lemon law attorney in DC if he or she cannot resolve the problem personally with the vehicle’s manufacturer. For instance, lawyers who specialize in local lemon car law cases can:

  • Help to negotiate solutions with manufacturers.
  • Gather important documents to support the case.
  • Represent consumers in court.

As another option to hiring attorneys, consumers may attempt to resolve their problems through mediation. For instance, the District of Columbia Superior Court, and organizations such as Call for Action and The Key Bridge Center for Mediation, provide DC residents with free mediation services, while the Better Business Bureau offers its services to residents for a fee.

Credible organizations are knowledgeable about both state and federal lemon law information.

Additional New and Used Car Laws in the District of Columbia

If a vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the DC lemon law (or the Automobile Consumer Protection Act), dealerships may attempt to repair and resell previously returned automobiles.

However, these vehicles must include the phrase “lemon law buyback, as this means that the previous owner had an issue with the automobile.

In addition to the car lemon law, other consumer protection laws under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) pertain to Direct Motor Vehicle Installment Loans (§§ 28-3601 to 28-3603) and Installment Sales of Motor Vehicles (§§ 50-601 to 50-610).

To report any type of complaint, consumers may contact the OAG by phone or online.

How to Tell if Your New Car is a Lemon in DC

Under the District of Columbia lemon law definition, a new vehicle with significant impairments that affect its safety, market value and reliability are known as lemons.

For instance, the state lemon law often covers new vehicles with ongoing engine, cooling, electrical, fuel, driveshaft or transmission problems.

If these defects cannot be corrected after a reasonable number of attempts, or if driving the automobile would be life-threatening to the buyer, the vehicle may be a lemon.

However, a vehicle will only qualify for lemon law compensation if the defects are so severe that they significantly impair the car’s use, safety or market value. Additionally, defects that were caused by neglect or abuse are not covered under these laws.

For instance, common lemon models include the following:

  • Ford: Focus and Escape
  • Chevrolet: Silverado and Cruze
  • Jeep: Cherokee and Wrangler
  • GMC: Acadia
  • Dodge: Challenger
Last updated on Friday, March 15 2019.

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