Are Your RV Repairs Taking Too Long?
The RV industry is booming. With many people still working from home, and an increased demand for “socially distanced” vacation options, Americans are turning to the RV. However, the waiting times for purchasing new RVs and repairing used RVs is putting a dampener on many vacation plans.
The summers of 2020 and 2021 saw a huge increase in the number of Americans entering the RV market. Although the demand for RVs had been steadily increasing in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred on new interest from people looking for safe or predictable ways to vacation at a time when public health concerns and government restrictions made travel difficult. Multiple news reports speak of state park and campground overcrowding.
The increased demand for RVs, combined with manufacturing delays and supply chain difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, are causing delays for people buying a new RV. Waiting lists for new RVs are months long, and many buyers are settling for units that they do not want because it is the only one that they can get. Many experienced RV owners who would have been in the market for a new or upgraded RV are instead repairing their current RVs.
New RV owners needing warranty repairs are also facing huge delays, and even outright refusals to repair. RV owners have reported weeks and months of delays waiting for repairs under warranty on their newly purchased RV. It is also common for a new RV owner to report that a dealer simply will not repair the RV especially if you did not purchase the RV from them. For many new RV owners, this has forced them to change or cancel vacation plans, or take their vacation without A/C, a fridge, or a working toilet.
What Is Causing the Delays to RV Repairs?
- Delays to RV warranty repairs has always been a problem. For years, RV owners have been frustrated by the long wait time to get a repair appointment, as well as the length of time the RV spends in the repair shop. Some dealers even insist that the rig sits on their lot for the entire waiting period of weeks or months before repairs begin. There has never been a great explanation for these delays other than the usual excuses of difficulties getting parts, or more customers need repairs in the busy season. Many experienced RV owners prefer to use an independent repair shop for quicker service, or carry out the repairs themselves. However, independent repairs may not be covered by your warranty or may even void the warranty on your new RV. You should get advice before doing this.
- COVID-19 has caused problems for many industries worldwide. Though it seems to have become a well-worn excuse, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the supply chains and manufacturing capacity of the auto industry. This made it difficult for RV dealers to get the parts necessary to carry out warranty repairs on time. This was a bigger problem earlier in the pandemic, and the situation seems to be improving, with some RV owners suggesting that it is much quicker to obtain parts directly from the RV manufacturer rather than wait for the dealer to get them.
- Dealers are focused on sales not servicing. RV dealers are notorious for being helpful and attentive before an RV sale is closed, and unresponsive afterwards. The busy sales market has not helped this situation as dealers focus on the more profitable sales side of their business rather than less rewarding after-sales customer service and repairs.
- Increased RV sales mean more new RVs under warranty for repair. With the increased number of new RVs in circulation, many owned by new and inexperienced RV owners, there are inevitably more RVs needing warranty repairs. People who have not owned an RV before are also more likely to go to their dealer for issues that might not faze an experienced RV owner. Dealers and repair shops dealing with higher numbers of warranty issues leads to longer wait times.
- Used RV owners are repairing rather than buying. The increased demand for RVs has caused a shortage of RVs for sale. This has forced some people to hold onto their current RV for longer than they might have intended. People are instead repairing their RV and using it for another season. This increase in the need for used RV repairs causes a general backlog at dealers and repair shops.
It Was Never Easy To Get Your RV Repaired
Even in “normal” times, getting your RV repaired could be a complicated process due to the nature of RVing and the RV industry.
You might be hundreds of miles from home or a dealer when your RV breaks down. The very nature of RVing is that you are on the road. Some RV owners only use their RV for a few weeks in season while others live full-time in their RV criss-crossing the country. A car owner can usually take their vehicle to their usual local dealer or repair shop, but an RV owner often has to find, and get to, an RV dealer or mechanic that will fix it.
Most RV dealers prioritize their own customers. It is common practice in the RV industry for dealers to refuse to service or repair RVs that were purchased at another dealer. For those that will repair an RV bought elsewhere, they usually put their own customers at the front of the line so other RV owners have to wait even longer. While most RV dealers are required by the RV manufacturer to provide service to any RV from that brand, the dealers are allowed to prioritize their own customers. Across RV brands, including Forest River, Jayco, and Keystone, RV owners have been told that dealers have no repair appointments open for people who did not buy their RV at that dealer. This makes repairs especially difficult for RV owners who are miles from home and their local dealer.
What Can You Do if Your New RV Needs Repair?
If your new RV needs repair, there are a few important things to consider:
- Where can you your RV repaired? The easiest option may be to go back to the dealer where you purchased your RV if you are within practical driving distance. If they value customer service and will complete the repairs properly and timely, this should be the least complicated option for you. If not, try another dealer with a good reputation. You can also go to an independent repair shop for warranty repairs but make sure you get pre-approval from the manufacturer in writing first. Usually, the repair shop will take care of the pre-approval paperwork, and may even be able to send out a mobile tech. Experienced RV owners often recommend this route.
- Don’t delay. You have a limited time to get repairs done under your new RV warranty, or within state lemon laws. Some manufacturers are also trying to restrict lawsuits for defective RVs to 90 days after your one-year warranty expires, and they are getting away with it. With the current delays in getting repairs, your time can run out quickly. Do not delay in getting the repair process started.
- Keep your paperwork. All of your complaints, repairs, and costs should be documented. Keep copies of any work orders, invoices, bills, letters, and pre-approvals. Keep a calendar of any repair appointments and how long your RV is at the repair shop and/or unable to be used. These will be important in any claim you may bring.
- Call an RV lemon law attorney. State lemon laws and federal warranty laws may help you if your RV repairs are taking too long. These laws are particularly technical for RVs, and are different in every state, but a good RV lemon law attorney can explain your legal rights. Most lemon law attorneys, including our attorneys at Timothy Abeel & Associates, will offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
You should not have to ruin your vacation, spend even more money, or wait months for warranty repairs to your new RV. You have rights under the law. Don’t lose them by waiting too long to take action. Contact one of our team at Timothy Abeel & Associates to find out how the law protects you in your state, and what steps you can take now. We will review your case for free so YOU can decide what YOU want to do.