Does a Used Car Dealer Need to Disclose a Prior Collision With the Vehicle in Washington?
Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.
Every vehicle sold in Washington by a dealer has an "implied" warranty that the vehicle will be fit for ordinary driving purposes. That means the vehicle must be fit for ordinary driving purposes, free of major defects, reasonably safe, and of the average quality of similar vehicles available for sale in that price range.
The duration and extent of an implied warranty is conditioned on the age, mileage and price of the vehicle as well as the nature and timing of the problem.
Most used vehicles are offered by dealers "as is." If you explicitly negotiate and knowingly accept such an offer, you give up your implied warranty of merchantability. Nothing in any law requires you to sign a waiver of your implied warranty rights under any circumstances.
You waive the implied warranty only if:
1.The dealer explicitly discussed warranty terms with you
2.You are accurately informed of the consequences of purchasing the vehicle "as is" (i.e. the waiver lists the particular qualities and characteristics of the vehicle that will not be covered)
3.You do not purchase an extended service contract; and finally,
4.You knowingly and voluntarily assume all risk for costs of repairs due to defects in the vehicle.
A breach of warranty involves a broken promise about a product made by either a manufacturer or a seller. The term also covers a failure of a statement or agreement by a seller of property which is a part of the contract of sale, when the truth of the statement is necessary to the validity of the contract. Warranties are also express or implied. An express warranty is a particular stipulation introduced into the written contract, by the agreement of the parties; an implied warranty is a guarantee imposed by law in a sale. Even though the seller may not make any explicit promises, the buyer still gets some protection.
Warranty protection is provided under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), which has been adopted, at least in part, by all states. On the federal level, Congress enacted the Magnuson-Moss Warranty—Federal Trade Commission Improvement Act of 1975, The federal Act has had a substantial impact on the warranty provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code. In general, it mandates certain guidelines in connection with written warranties and, where written warranties are given, invalidates attempts to disclaim implied warranties. The federal Act is aimed at written warranties and service contracts made in connection with the sale of "consumer products," requires that they they must meet federal standards in terms of disclosure and remedies provided to an aggrieved consumer.
Warranties are governed by contract laws principles. Any claim you may have relating to sale will likely be governed by contract law. The answer will depend on the type and terms of the warranty involved. It will be a matter of determination for the court, based on all the facts and circumstances involved, to decide whether there was a reason to void the warranty terms or toll the time period due to intentional misconduct by the company that wold prevent the warranty terms from being upheld. If you reported a defect to the company during the warranty period and the product wasn't fixed properly, the company usually must correct the problem, even if your warranty expires before the product is fixed. It may also be possible to pursue a breach of contract claim.
For further discussion, please see:
The terms of your contract and warranty language with the company will generally determine your rights and obligations as well as those of the company. You should carefully review the terms of the agreement, to determine your rights and obligations. If you wish to use the legal system to resolve your dispute, you may want to review the following general information regarding contract law and breach of contract actions:
Contracts are agreements that are legally enforceable. A contract is an agreement between two parties that creates an obligation to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. The purpose of a contract is to establish the terms of the agreement by which the parties have fixed their rights and duties. An oral contract is an agreement made with spoken words and either no writing or only partially written. An oral contract may generally be enforced the same as a written agreement. However, it is much more difficult with an oral contract to prove its existence or the terms. Oral contracts also usually have a shorter time period within which a person seeking to enforce their contract right must sue. A written contract generally provides a longer time to sue than for breach of an oral contract. Contracts are mainly governed by state statutory and common (judge-made) law and private law. Private law generally refers to the terms of the agreement between the parties, as parties have freedom to override many state law requirements regarding formalities of contracts. Each state has developed its own common law of contracts, which consists of a body of jurisprudence developed over time by trial and appellate courts on a case-by-case basis.
An unjustifiable failure to perform all or some part of a contractual duty is a breach of contract. A legal action for breach of contract arises when at least one party's performance does not live up to the terms of the contract and causes the other party to suffer economic damage or other types of measurable injury. A lawsuit for breach of contract is a civil action and the remedies awarded are designed to place the injured party in the position they would be in if not for the breach. Remedies for contractual breaches are not designed to punish the breaching party. The five basic remedies for breach of contract include the following: money damages, restitution, rescission, reformation, and specific performance. A money damage award includes a sum of money that is given as compensation for financial losses caused by a breach of contract. Parties injured by a breach are entitled to the benefit of the bargain they entered, or the net gain that would have accrued but for the breach. The type of breach governs the extent of damages that may be recovered.
Restitution is a remedy designed to restore the injured party to the position occupied prior to the formation of the contract. Parties seeking restitution may not request to be compensated for lost profits or other earnings caused by a breach. Instead, restitution aims at returning to the plaintiff any money or property given to the defendant under the contract. Plaintiffs typically seek restitution when contracts they have entered are voided by courts due to a defendant's incompetence or incapacity.
Rescission is the name for the remedy that terminates the contractual duties of both parties, while reformation is the name for the remedy that allows courts to change the substance of a contract to correct inequities that were suffered. In order to have a rescission, both parties to the contract must be placed in the position they occupied before the contract was made. Courts have held that a party may rescind a contract for fraud, incapacity, duress, undue influence, material breach in performance of a promise, or mistake, among other grounds.
Specific performance is an equitable remedy that compels one party to perform, as nearly as practicable, his or her duties specified by the contract. Specific performance is available only when money damages are inadequate to compensate the plaintiff for the breach
Promissory estoppel is a term used in contract law that applies where, although there may not otherwise be an enforceable contract, because one party has relied on the promise of the other, it would be unfair not to enforce the agreement. Promissory estoppel arises from a promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forebearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forebearance in binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise. Detrimental reliance is a term commonly used to force another to perform their obligations under a contract, using the theory of promissory estoppel. Promissory estoppel may apply when a promise was made; reliance on the promise was reasonable or foreseeable; there was actual and reasonable reliance on the promise; the reliance was detrimental; and injustice can only be prevented by enforcing the promise. Detrimental reliance must be shown to involve reliance that is reasonable, which is a determination made on an individual case-by-case basis, taking all factors into consideration. Detrimental means that some type of harm is suffered.
Reasonable reliance is usually referred to as a theory of recovery in contract law. It was what a prudent person might believe and act upon based on something told by another. Sometimes a person acts in reliance on the promise of a profit or other benefit, only to learn that the statements or promises were either incorrect or were exaggerated. The one who acted to their detriment in reasonable reliance may recover damages for the costs of his/her actions or demand performance. Reasonable reliance connotes the use of the standard of an ordinary and average person.
Please see the following WA statute:
Each of the following acts or practices is unlawful:
(1) To cause or permit to be advertised, printed, displayed,
published, distributed, broadcasted, televised, or disseminated in any
manner whatsoever, any statement or representation with regard to the
sale, lease, or financing of a vehicle which is false, deceptive, or
misleading, including but not limited to the following:
(a) That no down payment is required in connection with the sale of a
vehicle when a down payment is in fact required, or that a vehicle may be
purchased for a smaller down payment than is actually required;
(b) That a certain percentage of the sale price of a vehicle may be
financed when such financing is not offered in a single document evidencing
the entire security transaction;
(c) That a certain percentage is the amount of the service charge to be
charged for financing, without stating whether this percentage charge is a
monthly amount or an amount to be charged per year;
(d) That a new vehicle will be sold for a certain amount above or
below cost without computing cost as the exact amount of the factory
invoice on the specific vehicle to be sold;
(e) That a vehicle will be sold upon a monthly payment of a certain
amount, without including in the statement the number of payments of that
same amount which are required to liquidate the unpaid purchase price.
(2)(a) (i) To incorporate within the terms of any purchase and sale
or lease agreement any statement or representation with regard to the
sale, lease, or financing of a vehicle which is false, deceptive, or
misleading, including but not limited to terms that include as an added
cost to the selling price or capitalized cost of a vehicle an amount for
licensing or transfer of title of that vehicle which is not actually due
to the state, unless such amount has in fact been paid by the dealer
prior to such sale.
(ii) However, an amount not to exceed the applicable
amount provided in (iii)(A) and (B) of this subsection (2)(a) per vehicle
sale or lease may be charged by a dealer to recover administrative costs
for collecting motor vehicle excise taxes, licensing and registration
fees and other agency fees, verifying and clearing titles, transferring
titles, perfecting, releasing, or satisfying liens or other security
interests, and other administrative and documentary services rendered by
a dealer in connection with the sale or lease of a vehicle and in
carrying out the requirements of this chapter or any other provisions of
(iii) A dealer may charge under (a)(ii) of this subsection:
(A) As of the effective date of this act through June 30, 2014, an
amount not to exceed one hundred fifty dollars; and
(B) As of July 1, 2014, an amount not to exceed fifty dollars.
(b) A dealer may charge the documentary service fee in (a) of this
subsection under the following conditions:
(i) The documentary service fee is disclosed in writing to a
prospective purchaser or lessee before the execution of a purchase and
sale or lease agreement;
(ii) The dealer discloses to the purchaser or lessee in writing that
the documentary service fee is negotiable fee. The
disclosure must be written in a typeface that is at least as large as the
typeface used in the standard text of the document that contains the
disclosure and that is bold faced, capitalized, underlined, or otherwise
set out from the surrounding material so as to be conspicuous. The dealer
shall not represent to the purchaser or lessee that the fee or charge
is required by the state to be paid by either the dealer or prospective
purchaser or lessee;
(iii) The documentary service fee is separately designated from the
selling price or capitalized cost of the vehicle and from any other taxes,
fees, or charges; and
(iv) Dealers disclose in any advertisement that a documentary service
fee in an amount provided in (iv)(A) and (B) of this
subsection (2)(b) may be added to the sale price or the capitalized
(A) As of the effective date of this act through June 30, 2014, an
amount up to one hundred fifty dollars; and
(B) As of July 1, 2014, an amount up to fifty dollars.
For the purposes of this subsection (2), the term "documentary service
fee" means the optional amount charged by a dealer to provide the services
specified in (a) of this subsection.
(3) To set up, promote, or aid in the promotion of a plan by which
vehicles are to be sold or leased to a person for a consideration and
upon further consideration that the purchaser or lessee agrees to secure
one or more persons to participate in the plan by respectively making a
similar purchase and in turn agreeing to secure one or more persons
likewise to join in said plan, each purchaser or lessee being given the
right to secure money, credits, goods, or something of value, depending
upon the number of persons joining the plan.
(4) To commit, allow, or ratify any act of "bushing" which is defined
as follows: Entering into a written contract, written purchase order or
agreement, retail installment sales agreement, note and security
agreement, or written lease agreement, hereinafter collectively referred
to as contract or lease, signed by the prospective buyer or lessee of a
(a) Is subject to any conditions or the dealer's or his or her
authorized representative's future acceptance, and the dealer fails or
refuses within four calendar days, exclusive of Saturday, Sunday, or
legal holiday, and prior to any further negotiations with said buyer or
lessee to inform the buyer or lessee either: (i) That the dealer
unconditionally accepts the contract or lease, having satisfied,
removed, or waived all conditions to acceptance or performance,
including, but not limited to, financing, assignment, or lease approval;
or (ii) that the dealer rejects the contract or lease, thereby
automatically voiding the contract or lease, as long as such voiding does
not negate commercially reasonable contract or lease provisions
pertaining to the return of the subject vehicle and any physical damage,
excessive mileage after the demand for return of the vehicle, and
attorneys' fees authorized by law, and tenders the refund of any initial
payment or security made or given by the buyer or lessee, including, but
not limited to, any down payment, and tenders return of the trade-in
vehicle, key, other trade-in, or certificate of title to a trade-in.
Tender may be conditioned on return of the subject vehicle if previously
delivered to the buyer or lessee.
The provisions of this subsection (4)(a) do not impair, prejudice, or
abrogate the rights of a dealer to assert a claim against the buyer or
lessee for misrepresentation or breach of contract and to exercise all
remedies available at law or in equity, including those under chapter
62A.9A RCW, if the dealer, bank, or other lender or leasing company
discovers that approval of the contract or financing or approval of the
lease was based upon material misrepresentations made by the buyer or
lessee, including, but not limited to, misrepresentations regarding
income, employment, or debt of the buyer or lessee, as long as the
dealer, or his or her staff, has not, with knowledge of the material
misrepresentation, aided, assisted, encouraged, or participated, directly
or indirectly, in the misrepresentation. A dealer shall not be in
violation of this subsection (4)(a) if the buyer or lessee made a
material misrepresentation to the dealer, as long as the dealer, or his
or her staff, has not, with knowledge of the material misrepresentation,
aided, assisted, encouraged, or participated, directly or indirectly, in
When a dealer informs a buyer or lessee under this subsection (4)(a)
regarding the unconditional acceptance or rejection of the contract,
lease, or financing by an electronic mail message, the dealer must also
transmit the communication by any additional means;
(b) Permits the dealer to renegotiate a dollar amount specified as
trade-in allowance on a vehicle delivered or to be delivered by the buyer
or lessee as part of the purchase price or lease, for any reason except:
(i) Failure to disclose that the vehicle's certificate of ownership has
been branded for any reason, including, but not limited to, status as a
rebuilt vehicle as provided in RCW 46.12.050 and 46.12.075; or
(ii) Substantial physical damage or latent mechanical defect
occurring before the dealer took possession of the vehicle and which
could not have been reasonably discoverable at the time of the taking of
the order, offer, or contract; or
(iii) Excessive additional miles or a discrepancy in the mileage.
"Excessive additional miles" means the addition of five hundred miles or
more, as reflected on the vehicle's odometer, between the time the
vehicle was first valued by the dealer for purposes of determining its
trade-in value and the time of actual delivery of the vehicle to the
dealer. "A discrepancy in the mileage" means (A) a discrepancy between
the mileage reflected on the vehicle's odometer and the stated mileage on
the signed odometer statement; or (B) a discrepancy between the mileage
stated on the signed odometer statement and the actual mileage on the
(c) Fails to comply with the obligation of any written warranty or
guarantee given by the dealer requiring the furnishing of services or
repairs within a reasonable time.
(5) To commit any offense relating to odometers, as such offenses are
defined in RCW 46.37.540, 46.37.550, 46.37.560, and 46.37.570. A
violation of this subsection is a class C felony punishable under
chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(6) For any vehicle dealer or vehicle salesperson to refuse to
furnish, upon request of a prospective purchaser or lessee, for vehicles
previously registered to a business or governmental entity, the name and
address of the business or governmental entity.
(7) To commit any other offense under RCW 46.37.423, 46.37.424, or
(8) To commit any offense relating to a dealer's temporary license
permit, including but not limited to failure to properly complete each
such permit, or the issuance of more than one such permit on any one
vehicle. However, a dealer may issue a second temporary permit on a
vehicle if the following conditions are met:
(a) The lienholder fails to deliver the vehicle title to the dealer
within the required time period;
(b) The dealer has satisfied the lien; and
(c) The dealer has proof that payment of the lien was made within two
calendar days, exclusive of Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday, after the
sales contract has been executed by all parties and all conditions and
contingencies in the sales contract have been met or otherwise satisfied.
(9) For a dealer, salesperson, or mobile home manufacturer, having
taken an instrument or cash "on deposit" from a purchaser or lessee prior
to the delivery of the bargained-for vehicle, to commingle the "on
deposit" funds with assets of the dealer, salesperson, or mobile home
manufacturer instead of holding the "on deposit" funds as trustee in a
separate trust account until the purchaser or lessee has taken delivery
of the bargained-for vehicle. Delivery of a manufactured home shall be
deemed to occur in accordance with RCW 46.70.135(5). Failure, immediately
upon receipt, to endorse "on deposit" instruments to such a trust
account, or to set aside "on deposit" cash for deposit in such trust
account, and failure to deposit such instruments or cash in such trust
account by the close of banking hours on the day following receipt
thereof, shall be evidence of intent to commit this unlawful practice:
PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That a motor vehicle dealer may keep a separate trust
account which equals his or her customary total customer deposits for
vehicles for future delivery. For purposes of this section, "on deposit"
funds received from a purchaser of a manufactured home means those funds
that a seller requires a purchaser to advance before ordering the
manufactured home, but does not include any loan proceeds or moneys that
might have been paid on an installment contract.
(10) For a dealer or manufacturer to fail to comply with the
obligations of any written warranty or guarantee given by the dealer or
manufacturer requiring the furnishing of goods and services or repairs
within a reasonable period of time, or to fail to furnish to a purchaser
or lessee, all parts which attach to the manufactured unit including but
not limited to the undercarriage, and all items specified in the terms of
a sales or lease agreement signed by the seller and buyer or lessee.
(11) For a vehicle dealer to pay to or receive from any person,
firm, partnership, association, or corporation acting, either directly or
through a subsidiary, as a buyer's agent for consumers, any
compensation, fee, purchase moneys or funds that have been deposited into
or withdrawn out of any account controlled or used by any buyer's agent,
gratuity, or reward in connection with the purchase, sale, or lease of a
new motor vehicle.
(12) For a buyer's agent, acting directly or through a subsidiary, to
pay to or to receive from any motor vehicle dealer any compensation, fee,
gratuity, or reward in connection with the purchase, sale, or lease of a
new motor vehicle. In addition, it is unlawful for any buyer's agent to
engage in any of the following acts on behalf of or in the name of the
(a) Receiving or paying any purchase moneys or funds into or out of any
account controlled or used by any buyer's agent;
(b) Signing any vehicle purchase orders, sales contracts, leases,
odometer statements, or title documents, or having the name of the
buyer's agent appear on the vehicle purchase order, sales contract,
lease, or title; or
(c) Signing any other documentation relating to the purchase, sale,
lease, or transfer of any new motor vehicle.
It is unlawful for a buyer's agent to use a power of attorney
obtained from the consumer to accomplish or effect the purchase, sale,
lease, or transfer of ownership documents of any new motor vehicle by any
means which would otherwise be prohibited under (a) through (c) of this
subsection. However, the buyer's agent may use a power of attorney for
physical delivery of motor vehicle license plates to the consumer.
Further, it is unlawful for a buyer's agent to engage in any false,
deceptive, or misleading advertising, disseminated in any manner
whatsoever, including but not limited to making any claim or statement
that the buyer's agent offers, obtains, or guarantees the lowest price on
any motor vehicle or words to similar effect.
(13) For a buyer's agent to arrange for or to negotiate the
purchase, or both, of a new motor vehicle through an out-of-state dealer
without disclosing in writing to the customer that the new vehicle would
not be subject to chapter 19.118 RCW. This subsection also applies to
leased vehicles. In addition, it is unlawful for any buyer's agent to
fail to have a written agreement with the customer that: (a) Sets forth
the terms of the parties' agreement; (b) discloses to the customer the
total amount of any fees or other compensation being paid by the customer
to the buyer's agent for the agent's services; and (c) further discloses
whether the fee or any portion of the fee is refundable.
(14) Being a manufacturer, other than a motorcycle manufacturer
governed by chapter 46.93 RCW, to:
(a) Coerce or attempt to coerce any vehicle dealer to order or accept
delivery of any vehicle or vehicles, parts or accessories, or any other
commodities which have not been voluntarily ordered by the vehicle
dealer: PROVIDED, That recommendation, endorsement, exposition,
persuasion, urging, or argument are not deemed to constitute coercion;
(b) Cancel or fail to renew the franchise or selling agreement of any
vehicle dealer doing business in this state without fairly compensating
the dealer at a fair going business value for his or her capital
investment which shall include but not be limited to tools, equipment,
and parts inventory possessed by the dealer on the day he or she is
notified of such cancellation or termination and which are still within
the dealer's possession on the day the cancellation or termination is
effective, if: (i) The capital investment has been entered into with
reasonable and prudent business judgment for the purpose of fulfilling
the franchise; and (ii) the cancellation or nonrenewal was not done in
good faith. Good faith is defined as the duty of each party to any
franchise to act in a fair and equitable manner towards each other, so as
to guarantee one party freedom from coercion, intimidation, or threats of
coercion or intimidation from the other party: PROVIDED, That
recommendation, endorsement, exposition, persuasion, urging, or argument
are not deemed to constitute a lack of good faith;
(c) Encourage, aid, abet, or teach a vehicle dealer to sell or lease
vehicles through any false, deceptive, or misleading sales or financing
practices including but not limited to those practices declared unlawful in
(d) Coerce or attempt to coerce a vehicle dealer to engage in any
practice forbidden in this section by either threats of actual
cancellation or failure to renew the dealer's franchise agreement;
(e) Refuse to deliver any vehicle publicly advertised for immediate
delivery to any duly licensed vehicle dealer having a franchise or
contractual agreement for the retail sale or lease of new and unused
vehicles sold or distributed by such manufacturer within sixty days after
such dealer's order has been received in writing unless caused by
inability to deliver because of shortage or curtailment of material,
labor, transportation, or utility services, or by any labor or production
difficulty, or by any cause beyond the reasonable control of the
(f) To provide under the terms of any warranty that a purchaser or
lessee of any new or unused vehicle that has been sold or leased,
distributed for sale or lease, or transferred into this state for resale
or lease by the vehicle manufacturer may only make any warranty claim on
any item included as an integral part of the vehicle against the
manufacturer of that item.
Nothing in this section may be construed to impair the obligations of
a contract or to prevent a manufacturer, distributor, representative, or
any other person, whether or not licensed under this chapter, from
requiring performance of a written contract entered into with any
licensee hereunder, nor does the requirement of such performance
constitute a violation of any of the provisions of this section if any
such contract or the terms thereof requiring performance, have been
freely entered into and executed between the contracting parties. This
paragraph and subsection (14)(b) of this section do not apply to new motor
vehicle manufacturers governed by chapter 46.96 RCW.
(15) Unlawful transfer of an ownership interest in a motor vehicle as
defined in RCW 19.116.050.
(16) To knowingly and intentionally engage in collusion with a
registered owner of a vehicle to repossess and return or resell the
vehicle to the registered owner in an attempt to avoid a suspended
license impound under chapter 46.55 RCW. However, compliance with chapter
62A.9A RCW in repossessing, selling, leasing, or otherwise disposing of
the vehicle, including providing redemption rights to the debtor, is not
a violation of this section.