New RV Buyers Are Fools, Rubes And Suckers: Lawyer

Whether we’re talking about a Class A motorcoach filled with the finest luxuries money can buy or a vintage Airstream travel trailer, there’s something incredibly appealing about hitting the open road and seeing the country. Heck, even Clarence Thomas gets it. One thing a lot of RV buyers don’t realize at the time, though, is that the contract they have to sign makes dealing with repairs an absolute nightmare, and there really is no good way to get out of it.

Former Jalopnik contributor, friend of the site and consumer protection attorney Steve Lehto recently posted a video explaining the case of someone who bought a Thor Tellaro camper van in 2022 from a dealer called Camping World. After two weeks, they found leaks in the roof, ceiling fan and vent, a problem with the plumbing, a cracked pump and a backward filter. Oh, also the engine failed while they were driving.

They took it in to be repaired, but as of this year, it still hasn’t been fixed, so they sued the dealer, the manufacturer and Stellantis. Because the contract so thoroughly disclaimed all warranties, though, Camping World was recently able to get out of the lawsuit. And despite buying the camper van in Virginia, in order to sue Thor, the case has to be moved to Indiana.

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Basically, if anything goes wrong even right after you drive the RV off the lot, the agreements you have to sign allow the dealer to wash its hands of the vehicle, and there aren’t many options if you decide to sue. It’s not just Thor or Camping World, either. According to Lehto, they’re pretty much all like this and are part of the reason he decided to stop taking RV cases.

So what do you do if you still dream of traveling the country in a camper van? Lehto was also kind enough to release a video on that process, and while it’s a little obvious, his answer is to buy used. Let someone else take the massive depreciation hit and sort out all the issues before you buy. According to Lehto, you shouldn’t just start there, though. First, he recommends visiting a campsite and talking to the people there with RVs to find out what they like and don’t like about their particular model.

Then, once you get a better idea of which brand will fit your needs, find a similar one to rent for your first trip. You may fall in love, but you may also realize it isn’t for you. Or you may just decide to keep renting one every year or two. Regardless of where you end up, at the very least, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck with a $100,000 camper van or RV that you don’t even like. And if you eventually do decide to buy, you’ll have a much better idea of what you’re getting yourself into, especially if you have the used RV inspected first.

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