Under state law RCW 62A.2-314, every used car sold by a dealer in Washington for a customer’s personal use has an "implied warranty of merchantability.” This means that the dealer promises the used car will be fit for ordinary driving purposes, reasonably safe, without major defects, and of the average quality of similar cars available for sale in the same price range. A car can only be sold without the implied warranty if the customer knowingly agreed to waive the warranty and was provided with a statement of the particular characteristics or parts of the car that aren’t covered.
Absent the required disclosures and your customer’s explicit consent, an “as is” sticker in the window of a car or a signed waiver is not sufficient to waive the implied warranty. The implied warranty can’t be waived under any circumstance if a written warranty is offered with the car or the customer purchases an extended service warranty from the dealer within 90 days of buying a used car.
Whatever the status of warranty, dealers shouldn’t sell cars that, due to defective or missing safety equipment, aren’t legal to drive on public roads. Here are some general guidelines for meeting your obligations under state law:
Washington consumers have a right to trust that any purchased vehicle will be reasonably safe, efficient and comfortable.
If a customer has major problems with the vehicle, then the dealer may be obligated to meet the customer’s request for repairs or repayment of the purchase price.
Courts have ruled that the implied warranty is legally waived only if both of the following conditions are met:
The consumer explicitly negotiates and agrees to the fact that the car does not have an implied warranty, and
The dealer gives the consumer a statement of the particular characteristics or parts of the car which are not being warranted.
A general discussion of vehicle size, style, model, color, power, extra equipment and price is not a specific discussion or explicit negotiation of a waiver of the implied warranty of merchantability.
The use of an “As Is” sticker does not circumvent the Implied Warranty of Merchantability rules.
A signed, pre-printed form may not be evidence of explicit negotiation.
A clause waiving the warranty in a preprinted sales agreement is not evidence of explicit negotiation.
The burden is on the dealer to prove evidence of an effective disclaimer or waiver of a warranty.
If a customer buys an extended service warranty contract within 90 days of buying the used car, the implied warranty of merchantability cannot be waived under any circumstances – even if previously negotiated.
Used cars also have another implied warranty under state law RCW 62A.2-315, called Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose. This provides that when the seller knows the vehicle is going to be used for a particular purpose, such as racing or towing a trailer, and the buyer is relying on the seller’s expertise to provide a suitable vehicle, a warranty is created that the item will actually be fit for that purpose.