Washington State New Car Return Policy

by Rob Natiuk

Some car manufacturers and dealerships offer trial periods of up to 30 days on new vehicles, but there is no Washington state law that requires this practice. Once you sign the contract and drive the vehicle off the lot, it is contractually yours. There are only a few laws that can help you if you need to return your car to the dealership.

Washington's Lemon Law

The Lemon Law is not automatically enforced in the state of Washington; it requires an arbitration hearing through the attorney general's office. A car owner can request this no-fee hearing within 30 months of the date of purchase.

Qualifications for Returns

Before pursuing the Lemon Law remedy, your vehicle must have one or more "significant defects" that a reasonable number of repair attempts (generally two or three) have failed to correct. "Noncomformity defects" substantially impair the safety, value and expected use of your vehicle. "Safety defects" make driving the vehicle hazardous and could lead to accidents, fire or explosions.

Loss of Use

If within 30 months from the date of purchase your vehicle has been under repair for 30 or more cumulative days for safety or drivability problems, you can write to the manufacturer for a return or replacement. If you do not reach a resolution within 40 days, you can proceed with arbitration.

Illegal Sale Practices

You may also have recourse if a dealership's practices were illegal and you report them to the attorney general's office. This could be a "bait and switch," false advertising or even provable verbal deceptions and inflated prices. Also, if within four days of the signed contract your dealer cannot fulfill the contract's terms and you do not agree to the changes, you can return the vehicle immediately. The dealer must return your full deposit. If there was a trade-in, the dealership must return the vehicle along with the registration and keys. If the trade-in has been sold, then you must be reimbursed for the trade-in value agreed upon in the contract.

About the Author

Rob Natiuk has freelanced since 1973 in Canada, New York, California and now Washington. He has written for eHow, "Alaska," "Guide," Insight," "Guideposts," "MLM News," "Your Story Hour" and "Westbrook Hospital." He has been a copywriter for fundraising, direct mail and educational programs. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Andrews University and an elementary education certification from the University of Saskatchewan.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera young red-haired woman with her broken car. image by ta_samaya from Fotolia.com