Protecting Your Investment—RVs and Lemon
When you buy a recreational vehicle or RV, you’re
not just buying transportation. In some cases, you’re
investing in a home. With the growing population of
baby boomers approaching retirement, an RV is an investment
that makes good sense for many-- giving you the freedom and
flexibility to travel where you want without having to worry
According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association,
384,400 RVs were shipped to dealers last year, which represents
about a 4% increase from a year earlier and a 27-year high.
According to the May 31, 2006 edition of the Wall Street
Journal, motor homes (which can sell for as much as $400,000
or more), make up about a fifth of the RV and trailer market,
and generally cost anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000.
With such a sizeable amount of money spent, one would expect
some level of protection, either through your warranty or
through the state lemon law if you encounter problems soon
after your purchase. Unfortunately, that protection may be
harder to obtain than you think. Clearly, making the decision
to purchase an RV is not something you do on a whim, and
the last thing you want to have to deal with is making countless
trips back to the dealership after making such a major purchase.
There are several issues you should expect to deal with
as a new RV owner:
- Less than half of the states in the U.S. have lemon laws
that cover RVs.
- Of the states that do cover RVs, some actually only cover
the vehicle portion or chassis (engine, transmission, etc)
but not the living area.
- Because RV’s are not manufactured in one place—that
is, the vehicle is manufactured one place while the living
area is completed elsewhere--there is greater potential
for problems to occur.
What Kinds of Problems?
Some of the problems typically associated with the manufacture
of RVs include:
- Cargo capacity much lower than advertised due to safety
standards and weight restrictions
- Vehicle cargo specifications do not match real-world
- Your RV received poor or inadequate repairs
- Component issues ranging from electrical inverters to
fit and finish problems with furnishings and everything
- Poor warranty claims handling
But even in a state without coverage, you do have some recourse.
According to A Businessperson’s Guide to Federal
Warranty Law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975
requires manufacturers and sellers of consumer products to
provide consumers with detailed information about warranty
coverage. In addition, it affects both the rights of consumers
and the obligations of warrantors under written warranties.
So as with any vehicle, you should have proper documentation
of any repairs made to the vehicle, possess a complete understanding
of the warranty and have attempted to reconcile any issues
with the dealer/manufacturer before filing a claim or seeking