When you are buying a vehicle, there are a lot of things that go through your head. How many miles does it have on it? What is the vehicle’s history? Is the seller providing me the appropriate price for what they are offering? One of the big questions, however, and a question that is becoming more prevalent, is whether the vehicle is a lemon. A lemon vehicle refers to a vehicle that has problems that impact its safety, value, and/or utility. Lemon vehicles may be marked as such, but all too often, a seller will not indicate that these problems exist. Because of the propensity of lemon vehicles sold, laws have been created in various states, called lemon laws, in order to address the problem. But do these lemon laws apply to the sale of recreational vehicles (RVs)?
What does the lemon law say about RVs?
An RV is a major purchase, and as such, it is not one that should be taken lightly. Not that you should take any vehicle purchase lightly, but an RV is inherently going to be much more expensive. Regardless of this cost, however, RVs still run the risk of breaking down or having issues develop. They also run the risk of having problems that went unreported before you purchased the RV. In order for an RV to qualify as a lemon, however, it needs to fulfill certain conditions. First, the RV needs to be under warranty. Next, it has to have issues with the vehicle that interfere with its usability and/or safety. You also have to ensure that the defect occurred within the first 18 months or within 18,000 miles — whichever comes first.
After you have determined that such defects are present, the next thing to do is try to get them repaired. The manufacturer or car dealership has multiple opportunities to fix the problem. If they are unable to fix it, usually within two attempts, the vehicle qualifies for a replacement or a refund. It may also qualify if, during the repair process, the value of the vehicle is lowered, the problem is worsened, or a new problem is introduced. Being without the RV for 30 days will also qualify. These rules are the typical manner of handling things in many states, though not all. For example, in Alaska, you need to make three attempts, and you have to be without the RV for 30 days in length. Or in Arizona, where you must try four repair attempts and your RV is out of commission for 30 days in two years or 24,000 miles. The severity of the defect may also be a factor, such as in Georgia. If the defect is severe, the vehicle only needs to undergo one failed repair attempt.
Which part of the RV is affected will also be an important factor. For example, some states only consider the chassis part of the RV eligible under their respective lemon law. As a result, RVs that do not have a chassis or engine cannot qualify in these kinds of states. Some states also require that the chassis is under a certain weight limit (California limits it to 10,000 pounds, while Kansas limits it to 12,000, for instance). If you believe that your RV fits the definition of a lemon, there are certain things you have to be mindful of. For one, make sure that you have all relevant documentation, as it will be key in any dispute over its lemon status. You should also address the problem as quickly as possible; don’t drag your heels. The longer you take to get things handled, the more likely you are to find that it’s far too late to do so.
One snag that many RV owners may find in pursuing a lemon law claim is that there may be a partial or complete exclusion for RVs. Don’t lose hope, however; while lemon laws may not apply depending on your state, there are options on the federal level to ensure that you are taken care of. This comes in the form of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This act, passed by Congress in 1975, covers consumer warranties in general, and requires that warrantors provide detailed information about the products they sell, RVs included. The act was passed for multiple reasons. For one, Congress wanted to ensure that consumers are given more and better access to information relating to their purchases’ warranty, as well as give them the ability to compare one warranty to another. This latter part did well for another motive, which was to promote competition by making companies have to make more favorable warranties to make sales. Finally, Congress wished to ensure that warrantors had an incentive to fulfill their warranty obligations.
Lemon laws can be a complicated matter at the best of times and dealing with a lemon RV only makes things more complicated. If you are having trouble getting your vehicle covered under either your state’s respective lemon law or the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, your best bet is to work with a lemon law expert, like those at Neale & Fhima. Not only can they help you get things handled more quickly than if you did it on your own, but they can also ensure that you get as much back as you reasonably can. The less time and stress put into this matter, the more time you can put into recreation.