The famous saying is, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Sadly, that lemon could be your camper if you’re an RV owner. With so many rigs built in Indiana, many people wonder if lemon laws in Indiana apply to RV campers.
With RVs’ reputation for having issues, it’s a valid question. Unfortunately, many manufacturers do a lousy job of assembling their rigs. Problems frequently appear once an owner takes them out on an adventure.
So does the Indiana Lemon Law protect campers from bad RVs? Let’s dive in and take a closer look!
What Are Lemon Laws?
Lemon laws are a set of laws offering consumers some protection when purchasing new and used vehicles. Unfortunately, these laws and regulations vary by state. However, no matter where you live, they protect you against severe defects or mechanical issues.
These defects or issues could pose a safety risk and affect the value or the driver’s ability to use the vehicle. Lemon laws can help you sell a vehicle back to the manufacturer or even file a lawsuit or sue for losses.
Generally, when people refer to vehicles as lemons, they mean cars, trucks, and other automobiles. However, they can also cover many more types of vehicles.
What Does the Lemon Law in Indiana Cover?
The Indiana Lemon Law protects those purchasing a new or used vehicle in the Hoosier state. It requires the car to meet a set of basic standards.
These laws apply to new and used vehicles. However, consumers must report issues or defects within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles to qualify the vehicle as a lemon. It doesn’t matter whether the purchase is through a dealership or a private sale; the Indiana Lemon Laws apply.
Indiana’s lemon laws don’t apply to all types of vehicles. There are a few requirements that they must meet to qualify for lemon law protection.
Does the Indiana Lemon Law Protect Campers From Bad RVs?
Just because a company made a camper in Indiana doesn’t mean the Lemon laws apply to RVs. Indiana’s lemon laws only cover self-propelled vehicles. Travel trailers and other campers rely on a tow vehicle to propel them down the road. As a result, they do not fall under Indiana’s consumer protection laws.
Indiana’s Motor Vehicle Protection Code also explicitly excludes conversion vans and motorhomes from these laws.
However, consumers of towable and motorized campers do have warranties and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act means they must be clearly spelled out. We do need to clear up one major difference between RVs and cars that voids them in lemon laws. They are not vehicles built by one manufacturer. When you buy an RV, you will get a folder with warranties on all the different products in the RV. The frame, engine, drivetrain, microwave, blinds, air conditioner etc… are all different products just assembled by the manufacturer. This is what makes RV very different than a car that is one manufacturer.
Pro Tip: Stay on alert so you don’t miss these Top 10 Easily Missed Things to Look for When Buying an RV.
How to Check If Your State Has RV Lemon Laws
Checking if your state has RV lemon laws will require you to do some research. These laws and requirements vary from state to state, so you must go straight to the source for the most accurate information. The Consumer Protection Division specific to your state is the best place to start your search. For example, here is Indiana’s Consumer Protection Division.
These departments can be a wealth of knowledge and information. If you have questions, contact them, and they can help you with any complaints or information you might need. However, they’re not the only place you should search.
Because campers are RVs, it’s worth checking with the Department of Motor Vehicles for your state. It may even be worth calling your local branch and seeing if they can help point you in the right direction. Keep in mind what we said above, however, that RV’s are not the same as cars and rarely are covered under lemon law.
What to Do if You Buy an RV That’s a Lemon
If you suspect you’ve bought an RV that’s a lemon, there are some critical steps you need to take. Let’s examine what you need to do to address the issue.
Check Your Paperwork
Any consumer who experiences this unfortunate situation should immediately check their paperwork or purchase agreement, even if their state has an RV lemon law like Indiana. These provide vital information about warranties, terms, and other conditions. You’ll need to get familiar with the information to resolve the situation quickly.
Your paperwork will likely cover the process of resolving disputes. You may need to submit claims or provide information to specific departments. Because manufacturers have legal teams that construct the paperwork, it can be challenging to process.
Document All Issues
Once you start experiencing issues, make a log of everything. Keep track of the dates and any vital information. Get the names of any individuals you speak with at the dealership or the manufacturer. Because you’ll likely talk with several people during the process, you want to keep them straight.
Having an accurate log of your issues and interactions can be very helpful down the road. If it turns into a he-said, she-said situation, you want to have your facts straight. It can be easy to forget essential details.
File a Complaint
If you don’t feel you’re resolving your situation, you must file a complaint. You’ll typically do this through the Consumer Protection Division of your state’s Attorney General’s office, especially if your state has a lemon law like Indiana’s that won’t apply to your RV.
The AG office will likely provide you with information and resources. However, they could investigate the complaint and take legal action. They don’t tolerate businesses engaging in fraudulent or deceptive practices.
Seek Legal Advice and Pursue Legal Action
Unfortunately, sometimes you might have no other choice but to seek legal advice or pursue legal action. These services can be expensive but are worth every penny if they help resolve your situation. If you’re victorious, you can recoup the legal fees you acquired during the process. However, this will probably be a multi-year battle.
How to Avoid Buying an RV Lemon
The best way to avoid these situations is to avoid buying a lemon in the first place. While this can be challenging, you can do a few things to reduce the risks. Let’s look at some steps you should take to protect yourself.
Research the RV
Buying an RV isn’t a decision you should rush into without research. You’ll want to research the brand and the specific model. There are large Facebook groups for almost every brand and model of RV. By joining these groups, you can get a feel for some of the most significant issues owners experience.
Like it or not, Facebook is often one of the first places people run to complain when they have an issue. As a result, it’s crucial to remember this as you’re likely only hearing the negative side. However, it lets you know of potential issues.
Hire an RV Inspector
Yes, even brand-new RV’s need detailed inspections! Problems can arise whether you’re buying a new or used camper. We recommend hiring a quality RV inspector to comb through any rig you’re considering. These trained professionals have expert-level knowledge of all things related to RVs.
Hiring an RV inspector may cost several hundred dollars, but it can be worth it. They can catch big and small issues before they become your problem. You can use their findings for negotiation leverage or deciding to walk away from a deal, which is helpful in a state with restrictive lemon laws like Indiana.
Request Maintenance Records
When buying a used rig, it’s a good sign if you can get maintenance records. Some owners are more organized than others and keep detailed records about the maintenance of their RV. However, we wouldn’t always consider an owner not keeping meticulous records a deal breaker.
Depending on the camper’s age, it should be evident if they’ve been doing maintenance. Run away from any deal where the seller has failed to perform routine maintenance. If not, you could risk investing in a money pit.
Get to Know the Seller
Whether buying from a dealer or a private seller, it can help to get to know them. Dealers are harder to read because they’re professional sellers. However, when working directly with a private seller, they’ll likely have stories of adventures in the camper. These stories can give you an idea of how often they used the rig and how they cared for it.
While you don’t have to be best friends with the seller or dealer, having mutual respect for one another is a good idea. This can help ensure both parties are happy and shake hands at the end of a deal.
Have a Written Agreement
One of the worst things you can do is not to have a written agreement between you and the seller. Even a private seller should have some generic written contract you both sign. It clearly states the expectations of the two parties involved and the condition of the RV.
While you may hope it’s not an issue, this agreement can come in handy if there are any problems in the future. If there are obvious issues that the seller didn’t disclose, this legally-binding document could save the day.
Pro Tip: If you’re going to buy an RV sight-unseen, these are 7 Red Flags to Watch For.
You Can’t Make Lemonade from RV Lemon Laws
Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world where RV lemons exist. Luckily, there are laws to protect consumers, even if they are imperfect like Indiana’s lemon laws. Understanding the jargon regarding legal documents and warranties can take time and effort. If you feel that you have purchased a camper that’s a lemon, don’t procrastinate. Start researching and taking action today!
Have you ever met someone who purchased an RV lemon? Tell us in the comments!
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