Although the price of gasoline continues to climb upwards, Americans still love driving recreational vehicles. They are big and bulky and get poor gas mileage. Still, the convenience of driving a vehicle that also contains some of the comforts of home is appealing, particularly since an RV will allow you to stay in national parks and other campgrounds. Why stay in a hotel when you can stay by a lake? A recreational vehicle does offer vacation opportunities that other types of transportation, such as sport-utility vehicles, do not. But like any other vehicle, an RV can break down, and when it does, the repairs can be expensive. They can be even more expensive if you are unprepared for something that many RV buyers don’t know – the lemon laws of most states do not cover recreational vehicles.
Recreational vehicles are not cheap; the price tags of some of them can exceed one million dollars. But while they are legally motor vehicles, most states exempt them from coverage under the lemon laws. Lemon laws are statutes designed to provide consumers who buy defective motor vehicles with recourse against the manufacturer should the vehicle prove repeatedly unreliable. Given that RVs tend to be rather expensive, one would think that they would be covered under these laws, but in most states, that’s not the case. Why not?
Unlike most cars, which are mass-produced by the millions, RVs are mostly assembled by hand. Not only that, but the parts tend to be made by several different companies. An auto manufacturer might make the drive train, and several other companies might make the body and living quarters. There is really no single manufacturer to hold responsible for vehicle defects. A handful of states have some coverage for RVs, but those that do tend to cover only the drive train and not the living quarters of the vehicle. If you have a transmission problem, you may have recourse under the lemon law. If the stove quits working, the problem is your responsibility.
If you are planning to buy an RV, you should take precautions to minimize the likelihood of problems:
Check your state’s lemon laws to see if the type of vehicle you plan to buy is covered.
Look at vehicles from some different manufacturers and examine the warranties offered with the vehicles carefully. You may wish to consider purchasing an extended warranty if one is offered at the time of sale.
Do some research on the past reliability of the type of vehicle you are thinking about buying. If that manufacturer has a history of problems, you may wish to consider buying from a different company.
See if the vehicle carries the seal of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. This seal means that the manufacturer belongs to an industry group that requires its members to meet a set of safety standards that includes more than five hundred items.
Owning a recreational vehicle is a lot of fun and can make vacations enjoyable. However, the last thing you want is to spend your vacation at home while the RV is in the shop. Remember, your state’s lemon law will probably not protect you.