RV’s (including motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, campers, etc.) are known for providing years of enjoyable recreation to families across the United States. Indeed, more than 9-million families in the United States own RV’s and, every year, over 40 million people in the United States go RV camping. However, for some, the purchase of an RV is followed by years of visits to the repair shop, unending repair costs, and escalating headaches. The defects and problems that plague RV’s are as varied as the RV’s themselves: electrical issues, plumbing issues, leaks, engine and drivetrain issues, chassis issues, squeaks and rattles, issues with slide-outs, and countless other varieties of mechanical defects. Fortunately for California consumers, when an RV’s defects are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (commonly known as the “lemon law”) provides them with strong protections.
The protections offered to RV owners offered under the Song-Beverly Act (like those offered to other vehicle owners) are co-extensive with the vehicle’s warranty. In other words, the law covers defects that were covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty. (aftermarket service contracts, typically do not apply). The Song-Beverly Act provides strong protections to RV’s owners whose vehicles are not fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts, suffer dangerous defects, or suffer an excessive number of days down.
The seminal California case dealing with the scope of coverage afforded RV owners under the Song-Beverly Act is National R.V., Inc. v. Foreman, 34 Cal. App. 4th 1072, 1074, 40 Cal. Rptr. 2d 672, 673 (1995) (“National RV”). In National RV, the court considered the issue of whether the coach portion of a motorhome is subject to the provisions of the Song–Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ.Code,2 § 1790 et seq.). (Id.) In that case, the Foremans had purchased a 1990 Dolphin motorhome from 10,000 R.V. Sales for approximately $56,000. (Id.) The coach portion of the RV was warranted by National RV and the chassis was warranted by General Motors. (Id.) Within days of purchase, the RV began suffering from issues, including a dead battery. (Id.) From there, things grew worse and, altogether, the Foremans claimed 25 separate manufacturing defects with the RV. (Id. at 1075)
National RV, supported by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, argued to the court that the Song-Beverly Act should not apply to the coach portion of the vehicle. (Id. at 1076). The court found that different portions of the RV were covered by different aspects of the Song-Beverly Act. (Id. at 1078). First, the court concluded that the chassis portion of the motorhome fell within the definition of a “new motor vehicle” and was therefore covered by the lemon law (Civil Code § 1793.2(d)(2)). (Id.) The court went on to consider whether the RV coach was considered a “consumer good” as defined by CC § 1791, subd. (a), “any new product or part thereof that is used, bought, or leased for use primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, except for clothing and consumables….”. (Id. at 1079). The court conducted a detailed analysis of the legislative history of the Song-Beverly Act and concluded that motorhome coaches “clearly are ‘consumer goods’ within the meaning of the Act and are subject to the general application provisions of the Act, such as section 1793.2, subdivision (d)(1).” (Id. at 1083).
In sum, National RV holds that, while different portions of the Song-Beverly Act apply to different parts of an RV, the RV as a whole is covered by the law. The chassis portion of the RV (including the engine, transmission, and powertrain) are covered by Civil Code § 1793.2(d)(2), which is the same provision that applies to most motor vehicles. The coach portion of the RV, meanwhile, is covered by subsection (d)(1), which applies to most consumer goods. Both subsections require a manufacturer to replace or repurchase a vehicle that cannot be conformed to warranty “after a reasonable number of repair attempts).” (Notably, there’s a slight difference in the way damages are calculated under the two subsections). Nonetheless, the good news for RV vehicle owners is that their vehicle is covered!
If you have a Recreational Vehicle that has suffered an excessive number of repair attempts, an excessive number of days down, or has unresolved repair issues, please call the lemon law experts at CCA, today, for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.