RV Lemon Laws: Your Rights and Lemon Laws for Defective Recreational Vehicles     

 If you love having a good time during the summer, a Recreational Vehicle (RV) can regain your groove. Whether it’s a campervan, class A motorhome, or wheel trailer, it’s the right vehicle for camping or enjoying a road trip with family and friends.

Unfortunately, a defective recreational vehicle can disrupt your travel plans. For instance, an RV motorhome with a persistent transmission problem will most likely fail to engage gears or shake during gear shifts making it unsuitable for road trips.

 When the above happens ahead of a road trip, you’re left with two options—cancel your summer plans or hire an alternative RV, an expense that might break the banks of your budget.

A disrupted summer trip is not an isolated incident; a defective recreational vehicle will always fall short when you need it most.

Fortunately, California Lemon Laws cover new and used recreational vehicles with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. If you’re frustrated by an RV with persistent defects, consult an experienced California lemon law attorney on how to make a claim.

What are RV Lemon Laws, and How Do They Protect You?

RV lemon laws protect consumers who buy or lease new or used vehicles with substantial defects. Regarding RVs, lemon law protects new and used cars—chassis, chassis cab, and drive train of a motorhome— with the manufacturer’s new warranty.

California lemon laws don’t restrict the use of vehicles. You’re therefore protected whether you use the car for commercial, personal, family, or household reasons.

More importantly, if the manufacturer or dealer can’t repair a substantial defect in your vehicle after “a reasonable number of attempts,” the manufacturer must either:

  • Refund the recreational vehicle buying price.
  • Replace the vehicle

When Do RV Lemon Laws Apply?

RV lemon laws apply when a manufacturer has made a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix a vehicle defect— often referred to as Lemon Law Presumption. Generally, no set number stipulates a reasonable number of attempts.

However, the following guidelines offered by Lemon Law Presumption determine if a manufacturer has made a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the vehicle:

  • The dealer or manufacturer hasn’t fixed the problem after four or more repair attempts.
  • The vehicle’s problem could cause death or serious bodily injury if driven, and the manufacturer or dealer has made two unsuccessful repair attempts.
  • The vehicle has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days—not necessarily consecutive for a malfunction covered by warranty.

 Lemon Law Presumption applies if the following considerations are valid:

  • The problem occurred within the first 18,000 miles or 18 months of delivery
  • The defect significantly impacts the vehicle’s value, use, and safety
  • You have notified the manufacturer, in writing, about the problem if the warranty requires it

Understanding Your Rights as an RV Owner

If your car spends more time in the repair shop than on the road, you know you have a problem. California Lemon Laws protect you when your recreational vehicle is defective and the manufacturer can’t repair it after several attempts.

More importantly, lemon laws protect owners of defective RVs who buy or lease them in California and are still under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. 

The law provides that a manufacturer or a dealer must rectify a defect within 30 days after a consumer notifies them through certified mail. If the manufacturer cannot repair the defect after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement.

Therefore, if you suspect your vehicle is a lemon after a dealer tries to fix the defect after two or more attempts, you should notify the manufacturer immediately. You don’t have to wait until the vehicle has been in the repair shop for over 30 days. 

If you haven’t notified a manufacturer and you think your car meets the definition of a lemon, send a letter to the manufacturer with the following details:

  • Make, model, year of manufacturer, and VIN of your vehicle
  • A description of the vehicle’s problem
  • Describe the attempts made by the dealer
  • Include the details of the dealership you purchased the vehicle and the date of purchase.

The manufacturer has 30 days to fix the defect. Usually, they can authorize the dealer to make the repairs. When manufacturers receive numerous but related complaints, they issue recalls. Lastly, if none of the above happens, request a Lemon Law attorney to guide you on how to file a claim.

What Qualifies as a Detective RV? Lemon Law Criteria Explained

The Song-Beverly Consumer Act protects buyers who buy defective vehicles; however, they must prove that their vehicles are lemons according to set guidelines. 

California Lemon laws cover vehicles with significant defects that substantially impact the vehicle’s use, value, and safety. 

Here’s a breakdown of defects covered by Lemon laws according to the vehicle’s impact.

Defects That Impact Vehicle’s Value

A vehicle’s defect can significantly alter its value, making it a lemon. Usually, the value of a car is influenced by its condition, age, mileage, maintenance records, versatility, and market demand, among other factors.

A defective RV raises concerns about the vehicle’s reliability, repair costs, and safety, contributing to the reduced value.

Here’s how a vehicle’s malfunction affects its value:

  • Owner’s Perception; Impaired value affects more than the cash price of a vehicle. If the defect causes the RV to lose its value in your eyes, it can qualify under lemon laws. For instance, after purchasing a class-A motorhome, it rattles and produces black smoke as you drive down the street. Owing to the embarrassment caused by the condition, it has lost value in your eyes because you can’t use it without hating every moment you own it.
  • Market Perception: Buyers prefer buying vehicles that are in excellent working conditions. Any word on the street about a defective recreational vehicle can create a negative market perception that will likely turn away buyers.
  • Increased Repair Cost: Defective vehicles require frequent repairs and expensive spare parts. Buyers usually put this into consideration when shopping for a new motorhome. If you want to sell a used RV, the associated maintenance cost will likely drive the price down.

Impairs the Safety of the Vehicle

Vehicle defects and safety issues can affect any part of a recreational motorhome. Any malfunction that makes the driver or vehicle less secure qualifies as a substantial safety impairment. 

Most safety defects put the driver and passengers at risk of severe injury or death.

Some of the common safety defects of an RV include:

  • Engine Problems: Engine problems develop symptoms such as stalling, starting failure, losing engine power, or running roughly. If an engine problem causes the vehicle to stop on the highway suddenly, it can put the driver at risk of getting injured or killed.
  • Brake Problems; A defective brake increases the drivers stopping distance in case of a road hazard. It causes the driver to be unable to stop or slow down, increasing the risk of road accidents.
  • Transmission Defects: You need a working transmission in your RV to enjoy a smooth ride. Unfortunately, transmission defects cause a vehicle to fail to switch gears, stall, grind, or shake, and a clutch that fails to disengage. If a vehicle’s transmission fails uphill, it’s dangerous to oncoming traffic, drivers, and occupants.
  • Seat Belt Defects: A seatbelt is a first line of defense for drivers and other vehicle occupants. According to NHTSA, a seat belt cuts the risk of death and severe injury by up to 50%. A defective seatbelt may also result in broken or fractured ribs, soft tissue injuries on the shoulder, and lacerations.
  • Heating and Cooling Defects; A defective heating and cooling system can trigger a fire incident or uncomfortable ride. These defects may occur if your RV has a malfunctioning thermostat, faulty fan motor, or a broken heater core.

Impairs Vehicle Use

A defective part in an RV impairs its use somehow, and it doesn’t have to be completely undrivable. Most people buy RVs to enhance their fun during holidays and on weekends. Therefore, if a transmission defect makes driving the vehicle for long distances impossible, you can no longer rely on it for road trips or interstate camping.

The transmission defect has impaired the expected purpose of the vehicle, even though you can drive the car just fine.

Substantial Defects Not Covered by Lemon Laws

RV lemon laws cover consumers who buy vehicles with persistent problems. While most defects are protected under lemon laws, there are some exceptions to the rules:

  • Defects Caused By Owner Negligence: An RV cannot be termed as defective RV if the malfunction occurred because of owner negligence, improper maintenance, and care. As a result, lemon law would not cover an engine knock that occurred because of failure to change the engine oil.
  • Defects As a Result of Accidents: It’s common to find a problem developing even after complete repairs related to an accident. The Lemon law doesn’t cover defective RVs whose malfunctions originated from an accident.
  • Defects Due to Unauthorized Repairs or Alterations: Vehicle owners must adhere to the terms of the warranty to enjoy Lemon Law protection. For instance, if the vehicle develops a warranty defect, you should only take it to an authorized repair shop. If you decide to repair it at home or take it to an independent repair shop, you risk voiding your warranty under lemon laws.

Navigating the Lemon Law process: Steps to Take When Dealing with a Lemon RV

You may be entitled to a refund or replacement under California Lemon Laws if you bought a defective RV with a new manufacturer warranty. However, you must understand the steps to claim your rights under the lemon laws.

Below are the steps involved in filing a lemon law claim.

Report First to the Dealer

If your RV develops a problem, immediately bring it to a dealer or manufacturer’s attention. Many consumers need to pay more attention to this step, which may worsen the defect or void your lemon law rights if ignored.

 Remember, a manufacturer can only repair a defect they are aware of.

As much as Lemon Law protects consumers, it also gives them a duty to notify a manufacturer about the defect. Once the manufacturer becomes aware of the problem, it gives them an opportunity— a reasonable number of repair attempts — to repair the defect.

Taking your vehicle to an authorized dealership is always advisable because an independent repair shop puts your lemon law rights at risk.

Gather Necessary Documents Required to Prove Your Lemon Law Claim

The success of any legal claim, including lemon law claims, depends on the strength of the evidence presented. Therefore, before you file a claim, ensure you’ve gathered all the necessary documentation.

Here are the documents you’ll need to collect:

  • Purchase or Lease Documents: The original purchase or lease documents are the first set of documents your attorney will be interested in. These documents set out the date you purchased the vehicle, the price— including rebates, and any aftermarket item you might have added. They also indicate your interest in the RV as the original owner or lessee. You’ll also require documents associated with the loan agreement if you obtained it through finance.
  • Manufacturer’s Warranty: Information about your warranty is contained in the booklet provided by the manufacturer. It contains express warranty information the manufacturer provides with a breakdown of the terms and coverage period. Every warranty is unique, so the booklet is essential to prove that your defective RV was covered when you took it for repairs. 
  • Repair Order: Anytime you drop your vehicle off for repairs, the dealership prints a repair order document. A repair order describes the RV you brought in for repairs, the problem with your RV, and the mileage when you brought it in—the most critical repair order concerns warranty-covered defects. If the repair facility has tried to fix the same warranty defect, ensure it captures it as a repeat problem rather than a new one.

The repair order serves as a paper trail for all the defects in your vehicle and the repair attempts to fix the fault. 

  • Repair Invoice: The document the dealership hands you when you pick up the vehicle. A repair invoice is similar to the repair order; however, it describes all the problems the dealership attempted to repair and the description of the problem you mentioned when you dropped off the vehicle. It should also list repairs completed, date, mileage, and the cost of repairs.
  • Additional Documentation; Although the above documentation is the most important, you can strengthen your case with further evidence. Other documents that may help your claim include accident history, maintenance records, proof of incidental expenses, and vehicle registration.

Discuss Your Case With a California Lemon Attorney

You’ll need to discuss your case with a lemon law attorney. While finding the necessary paperwork online is easy, it doesn’t mean you should go ahead and file the claim on your own. 

Most consumers attempting to file a claim independently are soon overwhelmed. They’re equally confused when a dealer or manufacturer tries to take advantage of them.

On the contrary, working with an attorney has numerous advantages. For instance, the lawyer will handle all the legal aspects of the claim. In addition, a lemon law attorney will represent your interest during negotiations and mount a fact-based defense against the manufacturer.

While filing a claim, your warranty doesn’t need to be current. Lemon laws apply to defective RVs that were repaired under warranty. With that in mind, you can file a lemon law claim even if your warranty has expired.

Negotiate a Settlement

Upon receiving the manufacturer’s first offer, the attorney will help you evaluate its suitability. It’s the attorney’s role to negotiate a better payout from the manufacturer. The manufacturer will settle if the negotiations bear fruit and both parties are satisfied. 

Interestingly, most cases settle without trial; however, a lemon law attorney is always ready to represent you if the manufacturer fails to pay.

Proceed to Trial

If a manufacturer refuses to settle after you’ve complained, it’s within your right to proceed to trial. In addition, if the offer doesn’t fully cover the purchase price, legal fees, and incidental costs, you can seek the court’s intervention.

Generally, a trial is time-consuming and complex. You’ll therefore need the help of an experienced lemon law attorney to navigate the process.

Why You Should Call a Lemon Law Attorney

Lemon law claims are complex, time-consuming, and detail-oriented. In addition, you’re looking for maximum compensation for your RV that didn’t serve you well. A slip-up in the claim process will yield a low offer compounding the inconvenience and pain you endured with the defective unit.

Fortunately, working with a lemon law attorney will offer guidance, legal support, and direction on your journey to compensation.

Here are the benefits of calling a lemon law attorney.

A Lemon Law Attorney Offers Legal Advice

When confronted with a defective vehicle, consumers need clarification about their rights, where to report, who to call, and their next course of action. Fortunately, you can find answers to the above questions with a simple call to a lemon law attorney.

On listening to your complaint about the defective RV, a lemon law attorney can offer a preliminary determination of whether you have a case against a manufacturer. Subsequently, you can rely on the attorney’s guidance on how to proceed with the matter.

Protect & Uphold Your Lemon Law Rights

Consumers stand very little chance against giant automakers. However, working with a lemon lawyer increases their chances of success. A lawyer can help you prepare for a claim if you inform them of the vehicle’s defect a few months before filing a lemon law claim.

A lawyer is also adequately knowledgeable about interpreting the California Lemon Law presumption and determining if it’s time to file a lemon law claim.

Helps You Build a Stronger Case

A stronger lemon law case helps you maximize the final payout of a lemon law buyback. A lawyer knows the best approach to a claim for an enhanced outcome. Equally, an attorney will help you gather enough evidence and documentation to support your claim.

You’ll also need a lawyer on your side during negotiations. Usually, automakers engage the best attorneys in the business to prepare a defense against consumers, which can put you at a disadvantage.

The role of a lemon law attorney during negotiations is to counter any claims by the manufacturer that affects your interest. Ultimately, having professional work on your case will undoubtedly strengthen your case. 

Representation During Lemon Law Claims is Free

Most lemon law attorneys work on a contingency—commission— basis. They’re, therefore, willing to take up a case without requesting an upfront fee. The commission-based approach motivates the lemon law attorneys to push for the best possible outcome.

Equally, California lemon laws require automakers to refund consumers the attorney fees incurred while pursuing a refund or replacement— if a consumer wins the case.

It Gives You Peace of Mind

A Lemon Law claim can take up to 6 months to settle. Much effort is required to get everything in order; filing the claim, court appearance, appeals, correspondence with the manufacturer, and processing paperwork.

Handling the claim alone can be a source of stress and distraction from your work, school, or family life. However, once you secure a lawyer, you can leave the rest in the hands of a professional.

You’ll only be required to provide the necessary documents or consent at the latter stages.

Don’t Let a Defective RV Ruin Your Plans; Speak to a Lemon Law Attorney Today

Besides ruining your travel plans, a defective recreational vehicle impacts the vehicle’s safety endangering you and other vehicle occupants. If the defect is the cause of an accident, you may be called upon to pay medical expenses and damages to the victims.

To that end, your lemon law claim deserves the best representation that will aggressively represent your interest.    

At LemonLaw123, our highly experienced lead attorney Valerie. G Campbell has a 99% success rate, which gives us an edge while fighting for our clients.

Contact us online or call us at 657.529.5239 for a free case review.

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, known as The Lemon Law Lady, has dedicated her entire legal career to the specialized field of Lemon Law, a journey that began immediately after her
graduation from UCLA School of Law.

With a 99% success rate and a policy of no fees unless you win, her practice stands as a testament to her expertise in California’s Lemon Law, her commitment to her clients, and her unwavering dedication to justice and consumer rights.

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