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Motor Home Lemon Law

What Is The Lemon Law?

The Washington State Motor Vehicle “Lemon Law” was enacted to help new vehicle owners who have substantial continuing problems with warranty repairs. The law allows the owner to request an arbitration hearing through the Lemon Law Administration of Attorney General’s Office.

An owner can request arbitration under Lemon Law at any time within 30 months of the vehicle’s original retail delivery date.  There will be no charge for the arbitration process.   After an arbitration hearing, an arbitrator will decide whether a consumer’s claim meets the requirements under the law.   If the arbitrator awards repurchase or replacement of the motor home, the arbitrator can distribute liability between the motor home’s final stage, chassis and component manufacturers based on which warranty covered each substantial defect.  Note: The Lemon Law does not allow a consumer to stop making loan or lease payments while pursuing a Lemon Law claim.

Different Lemon Law requirements, limitations and procedures apply to motor homes from those applying to other types of new vehicles.  These differences include that defects in portions of a motor home used as dwelling, office, or commercial space are not covered unless a defect can be proven to affect the mobility of the motor home or the driver’s area.  You may have rights and remedies for motor home defects not covered by the Lemon under other laws.

Some motor homes  and portions are NOT covered by the Lemon Law:

Downloads

Lemon Law Motor Home Booklet (PDF)
Motor Home Arbitration Request Form (PDF)
Lemon Law Brochure (PDF)

  • Portions of a motor home used as dwelling, office, or commercial space. (Only the self-propelled vehicle and chassis portions of a motor home are covered);
  • Vehicles purchased or leased by a business as part of a fleet of 10 or more.

Note: Cars, Trucks and Motorcycles
The Lemon Law requirements for cars, trucks and motorcycles are described in the Lemon Law Motor Vehicle booklet available from the Lemon Law Administration.  It is also downloadable from the Lemon Law website.

Which Vehicles Are Eligible?

The Lemon Law covers most classes of new motor vehicles including motor homes and “demonstrators” originally purchased or leased at retail in Washington. 

Note – Armed Forces Provision: If you are a member of the armed forces stationed or residing in Washington, a new motor vehicle brought with you from another state is also covered by Washington’s Lemon Law if it was purchased or leased with a manufacturer written warranty within the last 30 months and the vehicle otherwise meets the definition of a ‘new motor vehicle.’

You do not have to be the original owner to request arbitration. Later owners of a vehicle may request arbitration if the vehicle was purchased or leased:

  • within two years of delivery to the original retail consumer and within the first 24,000 miles of operation
  • the vehicle meets the other eligibility requirements and
  • A Request For Arbitration is received by the Lemon Law Administration within 30 months of the original retail delivery date.

What Is A Warranty? What Is A Manufacturer’s Written Warranty?

Generally, a warranty is an express (oral or written) or implied promise regarding the qualities or characteristics of goods or services, which is enforceable in a court of law (or in arbitration). In the context of a new motor vehicle, the term "warranty" refers to the obligations of the manufacturer or seller for defective materials or workmanship or, under implied warranties, the failure of a new motor vehicle to be ‘fit for ordinary use’ or fit for ‘reasonably intended purposes.’

 

"Warranty" includes express (oral or written) and implied promises and may include ‘affirmations of fact or promise’ made by the manufacturer in connection with the sale or lease of a new motor vehicle that ‘becomes part of the basis of the bargain’. This may include representations made in the owner’s manual, brochures or advertising if it was a substantial reason you selected this specific vehicle or model.

 

A “manufacturer’s written warranty” states the manufacturer’s obligations to a consumer if there is a defect in a new motor vehicle identified during a limited time period after the first retail sale or lease. The ‘warranty period’ usually is determined by time and/or mileage. A service contract is not a warranty because it is an agreement to make repairs rather than a guarantee of a vehicle’s quality and attributes.

 

A modification by a new motor vehicle dealer is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty if the dealer installs the manufacturer's authorized parts (or the manufacturer approved equivalent) and follows the manufacturer’s specifications for a specific vehicle model.

 

Note: A vehicle converter or modifier (which may include a dealership) is a ‘manufacturer’ under the Lemon Law in specific circumstances. A vehicle modifier is a ‘manufacturer’ with warranty responsibilities and potential Lemon Law liability if:

  • a vehicle has been modified in any way before you purchase/lease a new vehicle and the modification is not covered by the ‘factory’ warranty or
  • you requested that a dealer modify or add an ‘option’ to a new vehicle as part of your purchase or lease that turns out to be defective, is not covered by the factory warranty and the dealer did nothave you sign a written disclosure stating that ‘the modification may void all or part of the manufacturer’s warranty and that Lemon Law remedies may not apply to the modification’.

What Is A “Lemon”?

Your motor home may qualify as a “lemon” if it has one or more significant defects that have been subject to a “reasonable number of attempts” to diagnose or repair the problem(s) under the motor home’s final stage, chassis and/or component manufacturers’ warranties. The law covers only defects that “substantially impair” the use, value, or safety of the motor vehicle.

Motor home final stage, chassis and/or component manufacturers are required to repurchase or replace a motor home with a ‘nonconformity’ or ‘serious safety defect’ after a “reasonable number of attempts” have occurred. A “reasonable number of attempts” are different for each type of defect and claim category.  Each defect can be the responsibility of only one manufacturer.  You must do your best to connect defects to a manufacturer even when the manufacturers cannot agree themselves.  You may need to get the assistance of an independent motor home mechanic or automotive electrical specialist to help you understand and sort out conflicting manufacturer opinions.  You should determine which manufacturer paid for each warranty repair or diagnosis.

At the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator will ask you to identify the basis for your claims under the Lemon Law including the type of each defect that occurred in your motor home and the claim categories that relate to each manufacturer.

You should present all Lemon Law claim categories that apply to your motor home’s defects and warranty service history.

Types of DefectsCovered Under the Lemon Law

Nonconformity
A ‘nonconformity is a defect that “substantially impairs” the use, value or safety of the motor home making it unreliable, unsafe of ordinary use or diminished in resale value compared to equivalent motor homes. 

Serious Safety Defect
Aserious safety defect is a life-threatening malfunction that impairs the driver’s ability to control or operate the motor home, or creates a risk of fire or explosion.

Note: Defects in the dwelling, office, or commercial space of a motor home are not covered by the Lemon Law unless provento affect the mobility of the motor home or the driver’s and front passenger area.

Claim Categories Under theLemon Law

There are 4 categories of claims that a consumer can prove at the arbitration hearing resulting in a manufacturer being required to repurchase or replace a new motor vehicle:

1.Unrepaired Nonconformity
A ‘nonconformity’ covered by a manufacturer warranty where:

  • The ‘nonconformity has been subject to diagnosis or repair three or more times  including at least once during the period of the applicable manufacturer’s written warranty and duringthe “eligibility period” (see What Is The Eligibility Period?)
  • The consumer sent a written demand to all manufacturersfor a final attempt to repair
  • The manufacturer responsible for the defect unsuccessfully completed the ‘final repair’ within 30 days or

The manufacturer gave up the “final repair” by failing to respond to the consumer’s final repair demand within 15 days

  • The nonconformity continues to exist
  • The consumer sent a written request to the appropriate manufacturerasking for repurchase or replacement of the vehicle and
  • The manufacturer failed to respond or did not reach a resolution with the consumer within 40 days.

2.Unrepaired Serious Safety Defect
A ‘serious safety defect’ covered by a manufacturer warranty where:

  • The ‘serious safety defect’ has been subject to diagnosis or repair one or more times including at least once during the period of the applicable manufacturer’s written warranty and duringthe “eligibility period” (see What Is the Eligibility Period?)
  •  The consumer sent written demandto all manufacturers for a final attempt to repair
  • The manufacturer responsible for the defect unsuccessfully completed the ‘final repair’ within 30 days or

               The manufacturer gave up the “final repair” by failing to respond to the consumer’s final repair demand within 15 days

  • The serious safety defect continues to exist
  • The consumer sent a written request to the appropriate manufacturer asking for repurchase or replacement of the motor home and
  • The manufacturer failed to respond or did not reach a resolution with the consumer within 40 days.  

3. Multiple Serious Safety Defects
Two or more different ‘serious safety defects’ (whether or not repaired) covered by the same manufacturerwarranty:

  • Occur within a twelve-month period during the first 2 years and 24,000 miles (the “eligibility period” - see What Is the Eligibility Period?)
  • Each ‘serious safety defect’ has been subject to diagnosis or repair one or more times at least once during the period of the applicable manufacturer’s written warranty
  • The consumer sent a written ‘final repair - safety notice’ (see Notes below) to the appropriate manufacturer though it is best to send to all manufacturers. 
  • The manufacturer(s)  gave up the “final repair - safety evaluation” by failing to respond to the consumer’s safety notice within 15 days or themanufacturer(s ) completed the ‘safety evaluation’
  • The consumer sent a written request to the manufacturer asking for repurchase or replacement of the vehicle and
  • The manufacturer failed to respond or did not reached a resolution with the consumer within 40 days

Notes:
The ‘safety notice’ is variation of the ‘final repair’ demand.  It must state that one ormore safety problems or ‘serious safety defects’ have occurred. The ‘safety notice’ requirement can be accomplished in other notices or demands if the consumer specifically identifies a safety concern whether or not referring to a ‘serious safety defect’

Whether or not a ‘serious safety defect’ has been repaired is not a factor for a ‘two serious safety defects’ claim.

4. Days Out of service
Combined days out of service accumulated from attempts to diagnose or repair ‘nonconformities’ or ‘serious safety defects’ by all the motor home’s manufacturers.  After a motor home has been out of service due to diagnosis or repair for a combined total of30 or more cumulative calendar days:

  • A consumer sent a written demand to all manufacturersfor a ‘final attempt’ to repair
  • The manufacturer(s) gave up the “final repair” by failing to respond to the consumer’s final repair demand within 15 days or the manufacturer(s) completed the ‘final repair’ before the accumulated days total 60 or within 10 days  (whichever is greater)
  • the final accumulated total of days out-of service is 60 or more cumulative calendar days when aggregated for all manufacturers  
  • The consumer sent a written request to the appropriate manufacturer(s) asking for repurchase or replacement of the vehicle and
  • The manufacturer failed to respond or did not reach a resolution with the consumer within 40 days.

Note: Days out of service are included whether or not a substantial defect has been repaired.

You Have a "Lemon" – What Should You Do?

Contact the Lemon Law Administration for more information and detailed instructions. Ask for the Lemon Law Motor Home Booklet and the Request for Arbitration Form. Read through the information listed below about the Arbitration Process.

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More Topics on Motor Home Lemon Law

Before Requesting Arbitration | Completing the Form | After Requesting Arbitration | Arbitration Process | Arbitration Decision | Replacement or Repurchase? | Contact Us

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