Before Requesting Arbitration
You must submit copies of your purchase or lease agreement and title/registration documents. You must submit copies of your vehicle’s repair orders when you request arbitration. If you did not receive repair orders or did not keep your copies, see How to Obtain Documents.
Each time you take your vehicle to a dealership for warranty services in Washington, the dealer must provide a fully itemized and legible repair order or written statement when returning the vehicle to you. Among other requirements, the repair order or statement must identify the problem(s) you are experiencing with your vehicle, a diagnosis, work done, the ‘in and out’ mileage on the vehicle, and the date you took the vehicle in for service and the date the dealer notified you that you could pick up the vehicle.
You are entitled to receive a copy of any report or computer reading regarding inspection, diagnosis, or test-drive of your vehicle by asking the dealer or manufacturer. In addition, you are entitled to copies of any technical service bulletins (TSBs) regarding the year, make and model of your vehicle upon request. Technical service bulletins are notices sent to service departments by the manufacturer. Service bulletins include descriptions of specific problems occurring in a vehicle model, how to diagnose a problem and repair to repair it.
Note: If you are not the original owner, you must also submit a title history for the vehicle obtained from the Department of Licensing and/or the original owner’s documents and prior repair history.
How to Obtain Documents
The Attorney General has authority to issue a subpoena to obtain critical documents and records for a consumer or a manufacturer. The Attorney General does not have the authority to require a person to attend a hearing, provide written statements or to testify at a hearing.
A consumer can only request the Attorney General to issue a subpoena for documents and records when you submit your Request For Arbitration. If you are missing documents necessary to prove your claim(s), you should immediately send a written request to the source (e.g. dealer, manufacturer, etc.) asking for copies of all documents and record relating to your vehicle. If you asking for copies of repair orders you should consider also asking for mechanic’s notes, test results, reports and communications with the manufacturer or between manufacturers. Keep a copy of your request letter.
If you do not receive the documents after asking, indicate this on the Request For Arbitration form and provide a copy of your written document request. This will be considered a request for a subpoena.
If the manufacturer responds to your claim being assigned to the arbitration board by sending a Manufacturer’s Statement, you have 3 days from when you receive the statement to ask for a subpoena for additional documents and records.
Steps to Request Arbitration
Gather all your documents, records, and repair reports and organize them. Evaluate how your vehicle qualifies as a “lemon” based on your records.
Write to the manufacturer requesting the repurchase or replacement of your vehicle. You must include a clear request for replacement or repurchase of the motor vehicle. To locate the manufacturer’s address look in your owner’s manual, ask the dealership or contact the Lemon Law Administration.
The written request to the manufacturer for repurchase or replacement should include:
Make, Model, Year, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN; 17 digits)
An explanation of the problem(s)
Name(s) of dealership(s) where diagnosis/repair attempts have been made, including dates of attempts.
You should send the letter to the manufacturer by certified mail with a return receipt requested. This will verify the date that the manufacturer received your letter. If you are near the 30 month arbitration deadline you should consider sending your letter by overnight express. KEEP A COPY OF YOUR LETTER AND THE RETURN RECEIPT IN YOUR RECORDS.
3. The manufacturer should be allowed 40 days to respond in most instances (see Note below). If the manufacturer does not respond or if the response is unsatisfactory, you can submit the Request For Arbitration form to the Lemon Law Administration in the Attorney General’s Office. Unless your claim is near the 30 month arbitration deadline, a Request For Arbitration received during the 40 day period will be delayed until the manufacturer’s 40 days to respond has expired.
Note: Your Request For Arbitration form must be received by the Lemon Law Administration within 30 months of the vehicle’s original retail delivery date whetheror not the 40 day response period has expired.
4. Submit a complete Request For Arbitration with supporting documents to the Lemon Law Administration. Call or write the Attorney General’s Office for a Request For Arbitration form or download one from the Lemon Law web pages.
Note: The Lemon Law does not allow a consumer to stop making loan or lease payments while pursuing a Lemon Law claim.