RVs, Lemon Laws and You

Despite the high cost of fuel, Americans love their gas-guzzling RVs. After all, what better way can you enjoy the great outdoors at a national park or campground? And how else can you travel in style without paying the high cost of accommodation at a resort or hotel? Despite their oftentimes unwieldy bulk, despite their lack of fuel economy, sometimes an RV is simply the only way to go. Unfortunately, like any other vehicle, an RV can break down-even new a one-, and most state’s lemon won’t protect its disgruntled owner.

Although legally RVs are considered motor vehicles (albeit often very expensive ones), most states exempt them from coverage under lemon laws that provide other consumers with recourse against manufacturers should their vehicles prove defective. What prompts states to exclude RV owners from this legal protection?

Unlike most cars, which are mass-produced en masse, RVs are mostly assembled by hand from parts produced by multiple companies. For instance, the drive train might be made by an one auto manufacturer, the body by another, and the living quarters by several more. There is no clearly discernible, single manufacturer that could be held responsible for a vehicle defect. Although a handful of states provide coverage for RVs under their lemon laws, most cover only the drive train, not the living quarters. If you have a transmission problem then, you’re in luck: you may have recourse under your state’s lemon law. If the stove stops functioning properly, however, fixing the problem is up to you.

If you plan to purchase an RV, take precautions to minimize your risk. Check your state’s lemon laws to see if the vehicle you plan to buy is protected. Also, carefully examine the warranties offered by various manufacturers. Although state lemon laws may not help you if the refrigerator experiences a meltdown, the manufacturer’s guarantee might. Extended warranties, which are often offered at the point of sale, are also worth considering.

Finally, research the manufacturer. Does the company have a history of reliability or a past checkered with lawsuits and recalls? If the latter is the case, it might be best to purchase your RV from someone else. If the vehicle carries the seal of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the manufacturer has met more than 500 safety standards set by the industry.

Vacationing in a recreational vehicle, either cross country or at a campground in the woods, can be a tremendous amount of fun-that is, if your RV’s in proper working order. Sitting by the side of the road surrounded by orange cones, however, might constitute the worst trip of your life, second only to waiting in a mechanics shop. That’s why it’s imperative before you buy to consult your state’s lemon laws. If they offer little protection, be proactive. Take the measures you must to protect yourself as a consumer.