RV Lemon Law What are my Rights?

If you are the owner of an RV, motor home, or travel trailer, you are protected under California’s lemon law, as well as a federal law that applies to warrantied products. However, you will need to show that your RV has a significant problem that impairs its safety or usability in the way that it was intended. These problems include mechanical and electrical issues, such as:

  • Brake issues (overheating, leaking fluid, soft / spongy brakes)
  • Battery keeps dying or draining
  • Poor acceleration
  • Defective doors and locks
  • Radio and navigation failure
  • Engine issues
  • Excessive noise (constant grinding or squeaking)
  • Problems with the plumbing / water storage tank
  • Broken slide-outs
  • Steering issues
  • Transmission problems (grinding or shaking, not switching gears)
  • Defective fuel gauges
  • Broken speedometer

Finding yourself with a lemon is a frustrating, and potentially, dangerous experience. Our lawyers can help you if you have purchased or leased a defective recreational vehicle in California. To learn more about your rights and receive the compensation you deserve, contact us for a free consultation.

Legal Protections for RV Owners

RVs include a variety of motor vehicles, including motorhomes, travel trailers, coaches, camper vans, fifth-wheel trailers, and popup campers. These vehicles are unique in that you have two portions – the motor vehicle section and the living quarters. Each section is covered by one of the following laws:

  1. California lemon law – also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, this law applies to the motor vehicle portion of your RV, like the cab and chassis. The state’s lemon law protects any warranty-covered defect that cannot be fixed by the manufacturer within a reasonable number of attempts.
  2. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act – This federal law protects you in the event there is a serious problem with the living quarters of an RV, which is not covered under California’s lemon law. The statute applies to warranties on consumer goods in general, including compensation rights if you end up with a defective product.

Depending on the specific issue you are having, you may be covered under one or both of these laws. With the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you are entitled to a refund from the manufacturer, since you did not receive a product in good working order. How much you can recover is something you will need to discuss with one or our attorneys. As for the California lemon law, there are several forms of damages you can request if your car is classified as a lemon.

How can I tell if my RV is a Lemon?

In this section, we will talk about the requirements that must be met in order for you to qualify for a lemon claim. In California, an RV is a lemon under the following conditions:

  • You purchased the vehicle from the manufacturer or an authorized dealer.
  • The RV is covered under a manufacturer-backed warranty.
  • You have scheduled all repair attempts with an authorized dealer (keep your receipts, work orders, etc. as proof of the manufacturer’s repair attempts).
  • The manufacturer was given a reasonable number of attempts to remedy the defect.

What is a “reasonable” number of attempts, you ask? In most cases, the RV manufacturer gets at least four tries to fix the same problem. But if the issue is serious enough to cause bodily injury or death, they only get 2 attempts. You can also go by the number of days that the car has been out for repairs. If your vehicle has been in the shop for 30 days or more since you bought it, you are eligible for compensation under California’s lemon law.

If you believe that you are eligible for a lemon claim, call us right away to speak with a California RV lemon law attorney. We can help you recover your losses from any RV manufacturer, including:

  • American Coach
  • Polaris
  • Keystone
  • Fleetwood
  • Gulf Stream
  • Forrest River
  • Thor
  • Monaco
  • Country Coach
  • Itasca
  • Coachmen
  • Jayco
  • Winnebago

Defects that are not Covered under the Lemon Law

Keep in mind that the RV lemon law only applies to serious defects that are covered by a warranty. In addition, you must avoid certain actions that can invalidate your right to compensation. Below are examples of defects where the California lemon law does not apply:

  • Problems caused by the owner – neglect, poor maintenance, dangerous / irresponsible driving.
  • Defects due to an after-market part that was added by the owner.
  • Issues caused by the owner’s attempt to fix the RV on their own.
  • Superficial / minor defects – small scratches and dents, for example.

There are some grey areas when it comes to defects that are eligible for a lemon claim. A horrible smell, for example, means that the RV is technically operable. But if the smell is distracting to the point where you cannot stay in the vehicle for a sustained period of time, that may be grounds to classify the RV as a lemon. These nuances should be discussed with an attorney, who can verify your rights under the state’s lemon law.

What are my Rights under California’s Lemon Law?

If your recreational vehicle falls within the state’s guidelines for a lemon, you are entitled to a refund of your purchase price or a new, replacement RV. Let’s examine each of these options in detail.

Refund (also known as a repurchase or manufacturer buyback)

Under this option, the manufacturer will refund you for the contract price of the vehicle, minus the mileage offset (to account for your usage up until the first repair attempt). You can also be reimbursed for associated costs, like sales tax, registration fees, and your down payment (if you’ve financed the vehicle).

Replacement vehicle

The manufacturer must provide you with a new RV of the same model, or one of equivalent value. With this remedy, you will not receive a refund for any finance charges or fees that you paid for the original RV. However, the manufacturer will cover the taxes and registration for the new vehicle.

We can discuss the pros and cons of each option and help you make the right choice based on your personal circumstances. Contact our office and schedule a free case review.

Average Value of an RV Lemon Law Case

People are curious to know what these cases are worth on average, but these claims are largely based on the cost of what you paid for your vehicle. Plus, you have to think about incidental fees like sales tax and finance charges, which vary from client to client. This means that an RV lemon claim may be worth anywhere from $50,000 to over $100,000. If your RV’s defect caused you to suffer an accident, you may also have a personal injury claim, which will certainly add to the value of your case. Due to the size and weight of an RV, there is an increased risk of serious injury to the driver and passengers. Our attorneys represent injury victims, as well as lemon law consumers, so you can rely on us to bring you maximum payment from a defective RV lawsuit.

Length of Time to Settle a Lemon Lawsuit

There are many factors that can affect the settlement timeline for an RV lemon claim. Some cases are relatively straightforward and may be resolved in 30 days to a few months. But things can be a bit more complicated with recreational vehicles, which combine living quarters with a motor vehicle portion. We can still recover payment for most of these cases with 6 to 8 months, but it’s possible that your case may take one or more years. The claims that take the longest involve injuries or death from an accident, as personal injury will significantly increase the amount that a consumer is owed. Once we know the details of your case, we can provide you with a better sense of how long it may take to recover your payment.

Time Limit to File a California Lemon Claim

Under California’s consumer protection laws, the statute of limitations for a lemon lawsuit is 4 years. Generally, the four-year window starts from the time when you should have known that your car was a lemon. This is somewhat subjective, as some people become aware of the problem after the first repair attempt. For others, it may take several attempts by the manufacturer before they realize they have a lemon on their hands. Our lemon experts can help you figure out the deadline for your case and ensure that your lawsuit is filed on time.

We strongly recommend that you act immediately as soon as you suspect that your RV is a lemon. An attorney at our office will investigate your claim and help you gather evidence to build a solid case. Please be aware that the courts are very strict when it comes to filing deadlines. If you don’t pursue a claim in a timely manner, it’s more than likely that your case will be dismissed. Call us right away to start taking action on a California lemon claim.

Advice from a Lawyer Experienced in RV Lemon Laws

The lemon lawyers of Guardian are ready for the challenge of fighting your rights. While the law is on your side, we know how tough it is for the average consumer to succeed against an RV manufacturer. We can help you obtain the refund or replacement vehicle you deserve, along with any other expenses you are entitled to.

By the way, our lemon attorneys are here for you if you have a pending claim with another law firm. Perhaps you’re skeptical about your lawyer’s advice, or you’re unhappy with their lack of communication or empathy. We can go over all your concerns during a second opinion consultation, which is completely free of charge. This way, you can be sure of what your options are no matter where you are in the claims process.

All our clients are offered a Zero fee guarantee, so you don’t have to worry about the cost of hiring an attorney. California’s lemon law entitles you to the cost of legal representation if you win your case. That’s why we are happy to work on contingency, while making all our services free to you in the meantime. We can explain this policy to you in detail and answer any questions you have about your rights and legal options. For a free case review with one of our attorneys, contact us at your earliest convenience.

Leave a Comment