By Deanna Tolliver
Do you think your RV may be a lemon? If you bought a new RV and you’ve taken it back to the dealer or manufacturer for numerous repairs and it’s STILL not fixed, you may, in fact, have a lemon RV.
Discussions among RVers about the quality of RV construction generally lead to the same conclusion: Manufacturers are sending many substandard units out their doors these days. Why? One possibility is that production is being rushed at an unprecedented rate. Over the past five years, RV production has almost doubled (285,749 in 2012 vs. 504,599 in 2017, per the RV Industry Association).
RV quality is also likely affected by the shortage of skilled workers to produce them. Unemployment in Elkhart, Indiana, the “mothership” of RV manufacturers, is around 3 percent. Ten years ago, it was 20 percent. “Help Wanted” posters compete with each other at busy corner intersections. Workers at RV manufacturing plants receive bonuses of $500, $1,000 or more if they remain on the job three months or longer. Kyle Hannan, with the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce said, “You never want to say there’s anything bad about the lowest unemployment rate in the state and there’s not, but the challenge is finding enough qualified workers.”
A rush to produce more RVs and possibly unqualified workers to make them? Sounds like a bad combination that can only make RV buyers unhappy with their new homes-on-wheels. The dreams of happy road trips leading to fun-filled destinations are turned into frustrating nightmares. Instead of sitting by the lake around the campfire, you find yourself sitting on the shoulder of the road or in an RV repair parking lot.
Over the next few weeks, RVtravel.com will be examining the world of lemon RVs, and what options for help you may have if you own one.
The law is apparently on your side. There are Lemon Laws in all 50 states (Click here for a state-by-state summary), as well as a Federal Law, called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, passed in 1975. The purpose of these state and federal laws is to protect the consumer from deceptive warranty practices. But what must have occurred in your interactions with the dealer/manufacturer varies greatly from state to state.
For comparison, if you bought an RV in Iowa, the Lemon Law is a little vague: “Reasonable number of repair chances or a reasonable amount of time to complete repair during warranty.” Other states’ laws are more specific. In Minnesota: “Four unsuccessful repairs or 30 business days or one unsuccessful repair of total braking or steering loss likely to cause death or serious bodily injury within shorter of two years of warranty. Chassis only.”
The Federal Law does not require any product to have a warranty; its purpose is to ensure that if a business/manufacturer warranties its product, the warranty must comply with this law.
And if that sounds like lawyer-speak to you, don’t feel alone. Next week we’ll give you some ideas on how to pursue legal action to help resolve your Lemon RV problems, as well as show you the RVs most commonly involved in Lemon Law cases.