Proposed bill would force auto dealers to provide warranties to customers purchasing used cars

Used car customers could have a very important new tool at purchase: a warranty.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson and state Representative David Hackney of Tukwila have filed a bill in the legislature that, if passed, would force dealers to provide used car warranties.

“The bill’s going to help everyday Washingtonians who are making a major purchase, a car, and making sure that they’ve got a warranty that protects them if they drive away and they’ve got a lemon,” said Ferguson.

Only eight states currently have used car warranty laws. If passed, Washington’s law would be one of the toughest in the country.

According to Ferguson, the bill applies to vehicles that are less than 20 years old and have less than 125,000 miles.

If a vehicle has an issue, the car dealer gets three chances to fix it. If they can’t repair it, they must provide a refund minus a mileage fee. If the car is out of service for 45 days, a refund must be provided.

The auto dealer also can’t ask buyers to waive the warranty.

“So the implied warranty is something you can sign away, and thousands of Washingtonians sign it away in that big stack of papers you get, and who’s stopping to read it? There’s no discussion around that. We’re getting rid of that system,” Ferguson said.

The length of the warranty depends on a car’s mileage. If the vehicle has less than 40,000 miles, the warranty lasts for 90 days and 3,700 miles. If it has between 80,000 and 125,000 miles, the warranty lasts for 30 days and 1,250 miles.

Ferguson features a KIRO 7 investigation into the used car warranty issue that aired last spring.

“Justin shouldn’t be stuck with a lemon,” said Ferguson.

That’s Justin Baas, who bought a $13,000 car last year. Within days it needed $3,900 worth of repairs. He says the dealer gave him no refund or fix for the car.

After KIRO 7′s Jesse Jones got involved, Justin did get his money back. But others have not been so fortunate.

“When it comes to used car purchases and warranties, this is one of our most frequent fliers in terms of the number of complaints that we get from Washingtonians, all across the state,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson says his office receives a complaint regarding used car purchases and warranties nearly every day.

Currently, used car sales have an implied warranty of merchantability that provides limited protections.

Consumers have to negotiate what they want in it, but oftentimes they just sign that right away.

The Washington State Auto Dealers Association sent KIRO 7 a statement about the bill:

“…we have been working with the Attorney General on used vehicle warranty legislation in the hope we can forge a compromise that ensures both customers and dealerships can easily and clearly understand their rights and obligations. While we do not believe the current draft meets that goal, most significantly because it does not let the dealership or customer know what parts of the car will be covered by the warranty, we are encouraged the Attorney General and his staff have committed to continue to work in good faith on something that does”

“I think it’s one of those issues that people understand. Other states have made progress on this. There’s no reason why we can’t craft a solution that works for everybody,” said Ferguson.