Recall and Safety for Recreational Vehicles
Recreational Vehicles (RVs) are unique when compared with other motor vehicles. They are large vehicles designed to take the comforts of home life on the road. The technology that makes it possible to travel with a kitchen, bedroom and living space can be a blessing. However, it can also contribute to a number of risks and hazards as you travel long distances or even embark on day trips or weekend vacations. In addition to the dangers you face on the roadway, defective RV parts can also add to your challenges.
RV companies will issue a recall, often along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when lives or property are at risk due to a product defect. NHTSA is a federal agency under the Department of Transportation, which sets and enforces safety standards for motor vehicles. Its duties include investigating safety defects and issuing recalls for defective autos including recreational vehicles.
Are All Defective RVs Recalled?
Not all defective RVs are recalled and this can turn into a major problem for you and your family. If you own an RV and spend most of your life traveling in it, you know that a defective RV can have a devastating impact on you and your family members. This is not just a vehicle, but it’s your home and your lifestyle. You fill your RV with possessions that you believe are important enough to keep and carry with you – even when you are on a weekend trip or a vacation. More importantly, your RV carries the people you love – family members and friends.
To report a vehicle defect: If you discover a defect, report them as soon as you find them. You can file a safety complaint on NHTSA’s website, safercar.gov site under Defects & Recalls, Safety Complaints. Click on the "file a safety complaint" link or call 1-888-327-4236.
Finding RV Recall Information
This can be a challenge because one of the problems consumers face is not knowing that a recall has been issued. Sometimes, the recall is issued after you purchase and start using your RV. Most manufacturers send out mailers to notify owners about the product recalls, but they don’t often reach every owner. For example, if you keep moving around the country, if you bought a used RV, or if your address has not been updated in the system, you may not receive the recall notice. So, how do you get the information you need?
It’s a good idea to be proactive and look up your RV periodically even if you have not heard of any recalls. There is more than one way to find out information about RV recalls. For example, you could learn about a recall from RV dealers, other RV owners, RV clubs, forums or by checking the manufacturer’s website. You can also look up NHTSA’s monthly list of recalls. You can search specifically by typing in your RV model information. Websites such as Auto Recalls for Consumers routinely post recall summaries. However, their information may not be as complete or current as NHTSA’s website. You can find out about recalls by calling the manufacturer’s customer service office as well.
Recent RV Recalls
Just about all RV manufacturers have had to issue a safety recall in the past few years. So, before you even purchase the RV, it is a good idea to research the recall history of the company and/or the vehicle model. Make sure you visit NHTSA’s web site, Safercar.gov, to obtain the information you need.
Here is a list of some of the most recent RV recalls:
- Fleetwood RV recalled the Bounder Classic 30T from model years 2012 and 2013 for tire issues. The label on the tires was incorrect, which meant that owners who followed the instructions on the label when inflating their tires would have had the wrong information.
- Airstream Inc. recalled the Airstream Classic from model years 2006 through 2009 for an issue with the brakes. There were reports that the brake hose could flex and become weak.
- Dutchmen recalled Aspen Trail, Dutchmen and Coleman recreational vehicles because they were made without an exterior vent. Without the vent, these defective RVs could become filled with carbon monoxide, a lethal poisonous gas.
- Heartland RV recalled some of the Elkridge and Bighorn vehicles because of an explosion hazard. On some of the models, the liquid propane generator was not connected correctly.
- Keystone recalled a number of its models that were assembled in July 2012, which did not have a smoke detector.
- Thor Motor Coach recalled a variety of recreational vehicles from model years 2008 through 2010 for brake defects.
- Spartan Motor Home issues a recall on Feb 14, 2014 for front suspension components: Spartan Motors Chassis, Inc. (Spartan Chassis) is recalling certain 2010-2014 model year MM motorhome chassis manufactured December 11, 2009, through January 30, 2013, and equipped with a sway bar and model 1253 front suspension. This front suspension design has increased rebound travel which may result in a binding condition of the sway bar end link which could lead to the breaking of the sway bar end links.
- Trails West Manufacturing of Idaho: melting and overheating could result in a trailer fire.
If You Have Been Involved in an RV Accident
If you have been involved in an RV accident, there are a number of steps you can take to protect your rights and legal options. First, you must determine if anyone has been injured. If you or a passenger has been hurt, call for emergency services right away. If only your vehicle is damaged, you should still file a report with the authorities. While waiting for help, if you are able, take photos of the crash site, the damaged vehicle and the part of the vehicle that may be defective. Write down every detail of the crash you can remember and collect contact information from anyone who witnessed the incident.
You should then seek medical attention to document your injuries. You should not, however, have your vehicle repaired. Instead, preserve it for a complete inspection. Go online to research if others have had similar issues with their RV and file a complaint with NHTSA. Contact an experienced auto product liability lawyer who can give you more information about pursuing your legal rights.
Recreational Vehicle Safety Tips
There are several steps you can take as an RV owner and user to ensure the safety of your family:
- Learn to drive the RV you plan to use. Practice first before you take it out on a long trip. Driving a motor home or pulling an RV is very much like driving a commercial big-rig truck. It handles very differently compared to a car, SUV or even a pickup truck.
- Make sure your insurance covers all aspects of your RV trip. Look up road services that specialize in RVs.
- Check road conditions, construction, closures and weather reports before you leave.
- Inspection checklists are crucial. You need to inspect your RV, hitch and tow vehicle thoroughly. You could print out a checklist from the Internet depending on the type of motor home you own. Check your tires and brakes as well.
- Remember that RVs are not wired to run all your electronics and appliances at once. It’s a good idea to label your appliances with the number of amps they draw.
- Distribute weight evenly. You must decide the amount of water and fuel you need to carry and stay under the legal weight limits for your specific RV.
Contacting an Recreational Vehicle Lawyer
A defective RV or RV part can result in catastrophic incidents such as fires, electrocutions, collisions and burns. If a defective product has caused injuries to you and/or your family members of guests, talk to an experienced product liability lawyer to protect your rights. Do not get stuck between the RV manufacturer, dealer and insurance companies that may start playing the blame game. Do not get left in the dark while these corporations try to pass the buck and avoid compensating you for your injuries and losses. Contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at BISNAR | CHASE who will ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected. Please contact us at (949) 203-3814 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.