The internet is an invaluable tool when researching different RVs and what type of RV might fit your lifestyle and travel plans. The RV industry has done an exceptional job of producing RVs for every budget and lifestyle. Using tools available, customers can research different RVs. Many customers have a good idea of what they want to purchase before even going to see an RV dealer.

However, when you search the term “lemon RV” you get no less than nineteen million results. A lemon RV is defined by rvlemonlaw.com as, “an RV that is (1) covered by a warranty, (2) has one or more problems that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle to you, and (3) where the dealer has not fixed said problems within a reasonable number of chances or a reasonable amount of time.” Lemon laws are further complicated as most every state has a different version of lemon law and how those laws are applied to RVs. In many states only the chassis is covered under lemon laws. These laws would not apply to the living quarters of the RV. Lemon laws can also vary based on the weight of the RV.

While lemon laws vary from state to state we can also look at numbers from the RV industry to help determine if RVs are a lemon. Much can be said about the RV industry today. It is no secret the RV industry, just like every other industry, has had its share of issues in 2022. Many manufacturers continued to face supply chain problems. Manufacturers struggle with finding and retaining employees. A cooling economy in the United States may have also contributed to a decline in the number of RVs sold in 2022.

Despite the struggles the latest report available from the RV Industry Association, RVIA, which is the November 2022 RV Wholesale Shipment Summary, indicates that year to date, a total of 472,691 RVs were shipped to dealers in 2022. Of that total, 417,603 were towable units and 55, 088 were motorhomes or drivable units.

This can be contrasted with 2021, which saw higher numbers of RV shipments to dealers. In 2021, 559, 893 RVs were shipped to dealers, as of November 2021. Of that total, 507,120 were towable units and 52,773 were motorhomes, or drivable units. Overall, 2022 saw a decrease of 87,202 units from 2021. Overall, the RVIA indicates that 2022 was the fourth highest year for total shipments of RVs. 2021, was the highest year for total RV shipments, with 600,240 total RVs shipped.

Looking at RV shipments alone does not give an accurate picture of the RV industry. These numbers certainly do not give enough information to tell us if an RV would be lemon. We need more information. This has led us to look at RV recalls from 2022 to see what trends we can identify. The information presented herein is a preliminary examination of recalls issued in 2022.

Recalls

Aside from looking at RV shipments we can also look at data from the federal government. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, NHSTA, in conjunction with RV manufacturers regularly issue recalls for safety issues. Most are familiar with recalls issued for vehicles. The NHSTA also regularly issues recalls for RVs and the components that make up a RV. Recalls could include almost anything including tires, seatbelts, awnings, propane regulators, steering equipment, and other devices.

According to NHSTA “a recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHSTA determines that a vehicle, equipment, car seat, or tire creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards.” Once a recall has been issued owners are usually contacted and notified of the recall so they can coordinate the repair of the defect. So, what does the latest recall data tell us about RVs? Does it help us determine if an RV is a lemon or a particular RV Manufacturer has problems, we should be aware of before buying a RV?

Recall Data From 2022

To answer those questions, we looked at all recalls issued by twenty-five RV manufacturers in the calendar year 2022. The manufacturers were large RV manufactures with names that would be familiar. These manufacturers produced all types of RVs from luxury Class A motorhomes, small travel trailers and truck campers. They produced RVs to fit every budget and lifestyle.

Before we examine the recall data from 2022, it should be noted that finding RVs manufactured in 2022, subject to recalls is not straightforward. A recall may have been issued by a manufacturer and can cover RVs manufactured in multiple years. Therefore, we limited our analysis of recall data for all recalls issued from January 2022 to December 2022. Further, one RV may have multiple recalls issued for various components. So, one RV could be counted toward the total units recalled multiple times. For example, the 2022 Newmar Ventana was subject to six different recalls. Therefore, without deeper analysis, one RV could count six times toward the total number of RVs recalled in 2022.

Our analysis of 2022 recalls consisted of twenty-five major RV manufacturers of both towable and drivable units. During the calendar year 2022, these manufacturers issued a combined 160 recalls with 534,195 potentially recalled RVs. The most recalls issued by a single manufacturer were thirty-five, issued by Forest River. Four manufacturers tied for the least number of recalls issued, which was one recall per manufacturer. Those companies included Braxton Creek RV, Entegra, Ember Recreational Vehicles, and Van Leigh RV. The most RVs recalled by one manufacturer was Forest River with 203,694 RVs recalled. The lowest number recalled was Van Leigh, with forty-seven units recalled. The data available indicates all RVs, regardless of price point, were subject to recalls. Both Newmar and Tiffin, known for producing higher end luxury motorhomes had a combined 14, 613 units subject to recall from the recalls issued in 2022.

What If I Already Have an RV?

If you already own an RV one of the best things, you can do is keep up with routine maintenance. For example, when was the last time you checked the seals on the roof of the RV? RV owners should regularly check the condition of the seals and roofing material. Even little cracks in sealant or roofing material can allow water to enter the RV structure. Once water enters the interior of the RV it will cause problems such as delamination, mold, and mildew. Annually, RV owners should maintain appliances such as water heaters and furnaces. Not only does proper maintenance of these appliances prolong the life but helps ensure trouble free operation.

As a RV owner go ahead and sign up for recall alerts from manufacturers. You can sign up for alerts using your email, search by your VIN or RV year, make, and model. To search or sign up for alerts visit the NHSTA website. Once you are notified of a potential recall on your RV go ahead and schedule the repair to be completed.

What If I Am Buying an RV?

Buying an RV can be a fun adventure, as you envision how you will use the RV and of the memories and adventures you will have. However, buying an RV is also a huge financial investment, no matter what your budget is. The decision to purchase a RV can also cause you to worry about what happens if you pick the wrong one, or you pick the “lemon.” What can you do to help you decide which RV is right for you? Well, thankfully, there are several things you can do. First, we recommend slowing down and taking your time. RV dealers are quite good at applying pressure to purchase the RV “now.” Slowing down allows you to do your “homework.” Look online at all of the manufacturers you might be interested in and study the models and floorplans they offer. Many RV manufacturers also allow you to view brochures from previous years models on their websites. We would also recommend that once you find a make and model of RV you are interested in look at recalls that may be appliable to that particular RV. Join online forums and groups related to the make and model of the RV you are interested in and engage with current owners to see what they like or dislike about the RV.

Finally, once you decide on an RV, find, and hire an independent RV inspector to look at the unit for you. Hiring an independent inspector makes sense for several reasons. When we are emotionally invested in the purchasing process, we may tend to overlook items that may be giving warning signs of problems. Those warning signs are what an independent inspector is trained to notice. Many of the inspections I do are for clients who are not local to the RV. For them it is cheaper to hire me to look at the RV than to take the time off work and travel to see the RV, only to find it does not meet their needs or expectations. Finally, hiring an RV inspector gives you access to their experiences, education, training, and specialized equipment.

Back to the Original Question

So, are all RVs lemons? Well, the short answer is no. Are there some RVs more prone to problems than others? Perhaps. Examining the number of RVs shipped and the number of recalls issued in 2022 does provide some interesting information. We are going to examine the available date further to see what, if any trends, we can find. If you are interested in buying an RV, we would recommend doing your homework before making such a large purchase. The recall data reveals that all manufacturers are prone to recalls. Another smart tool when purchasing a RV is to hire an independent certified RV inspector to act as your eyes and ears. The report and information they give you could be invaluable to the process and help you pick the right RV for your lifestyle.