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Coach & Powertrain: Did I Buy An RV Lemon?

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

I just bought my first motorhome, a 2005 Country Coach Inspire with about 35,000 miles on it. I took it for a test drive and it seemed to be OK, but I also purchased an extended warranty just in case. As I understand it, in general, the extended warranty is supposed to cover things that aren’t normal wear and tear (like brakes and things of that nature). A few months after purchase, I took the motorhome on a 5,000-mile trip and a couple of things cropped up. First, when going over some freeway bridges there are road dips. When my motor­home hits some of these dips, the front suspension bottoms out with a loud bang. I tried to watch for those dips and slow down before going over them but the suspension just didn’t seem quite right.

Second, one evening in Montana it rained all night. During the night my hand touched the floor near the bed and it was very wet. Apparently the bedroom slideout (on the driver’s side) was leaking because the bedspread on that side was also wet. It turned out that the front driver’s side slideout also leaked, but that one leaked after I closed up and was driving through the rain. When I closed the slideouts, I made sure to close them slowly to keep from pushing water through the seals. I’m not talking about a little water; it was running across the floor and required many towels to dry it.

During the trip I let the dealership know that these problems were occurring. When I got home, I took the motorhome back to the dealer for inspection and repair. At that point there was a mini-standoff because they said the extended warranty doesn’t cover those items. Now I’m wondering why I purchased the warranty in the first place. I also think that even though I bought the motorhome as-is, there should be some acknowledgment on the dealer’s part that they should pay for these items because I was never told these problems existed. When I buy a house as-is I receive a list of potential problems with the house so I know what I am getting myself into.

Another much smaller problem that I had is with the clean-out valve for the black-water tank. When I first hooked up a hose to it and turned the water on, the valve leaked enough that I could have taken a shower in the spraying water. I told the dealer and he said I needed to attach a pressure reducer. I did that the next time I turned on the water but got the same result. How can they sell a coach with this problem when supposedly the motorhome was checked out beforehand?

Basically my questions are: What is the proper procedure when buying used? How much responsibility does the dealership have regarding what they have to tell me about the coach? And what should the extended warranty cover? The dealership is now saying that an extended warranty rarely covers slideouts, but I do not remember being told that when I purchased it. I’m at the point where I want to get a refund on the extended warranty because it just seems like a waste of money.

 –Amy Holland | Mountain Center, Calif.

Regarding the front end bottoming, I suggest you have the shocks checked for condition first; they may be worn out. If they are OK, contact Sumo Springs (800-898-0705), which makes devices that cushion bottoming impacts.

For the rain leak, your best bet is to have a helper use a garden hose to spray water on the suspect area, while you look for leaks inside. Where the leak is determines how it needs to be fixed. Often it is cracked seals.

Consumer protection laws don’t apply to motorhomes. Therefore you should have them carefully checked out by a third party expert before you buy. If they have materially misrepresented the coach, you can also file a small claims action, however, it will be difficult if you signed that it was sold as-is.

— Ken Freund

Man smiling and standing next to truck driver side

Have a technical question about your RV? Send them to [email protected].

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