We recently updated our Motorhome and Travel Trailer & Fifth Wheel guides and during the research for those books a single question occurred to me yet again: Why do new RVs have such crummy factory warranty coverage?
If you have spent any time at all shopping for a new RV, you know by now that most of them come with underwhelming RV warranties. Consider the following warranty offered by a very popular and highly rated travel trailer company that we cover extensively in our books. For your convenience, I have cherry-picked the only part that really means anything:
COVERAGE: Except as specifically excluded below, XXXX RV Company (hereinafter “XXXX”) WARRANTS for a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase….
I blocked their name because I don’t want to single them out –they are not the exception- but that text is verbatim from their own literature. This is the norm for the industry, for all manner of RVs. In fact, here’s the warranty for one of the most expensive motorhomes on the market:
Each XXXX motor coach provides a 1-Year Unlimited Mileage Expressed, Limited Warranty.
One year of coverage for a top-of-the-line diesel coach selling well north of $250,000? The travel trailer example comes from a company that sells trailers and fifth wheels in the $50,000-$100,000 range.
The average buyer uses their new RV for 22 days of travel the first year. Let’s call it 3 weeks. Obviously, RVs don’t break down the 49 weeks of the year they aren’t in use. Therefore, the advertised 1 Year Warranty covers 3 weeks of use –for a brand-new unit.
Let’s compare this to the automotive industry. We’ve all purchased cars at some point, and chances are you use them every day. 52 weeks of use in a 52 week year. And what sort of coverage does the automotive industry offer for a product that will see considerably more wear and tear?
The XXXX 10-year/100,000-mile warranty program* consists of:
- 10-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty
- 5-year/60,000-mile limited basic warranty
- 5-year/100,000-mile limited anti-perforation warranty
- 5-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance plan
5 years and 60,000 miles for a Basic “Bumper to Bumper” Warranty. A review of the fine print (*) shows this “Basic” covers everything but abuse/owner neglect and wearable items (brake pads, lights, fluids, etc.). And this is for one of the cheapest cars on the market with all the style and charm of a chest freezer. The woefully underpowered and overworked powertrain (engine, transmission) is covered for an impressive 20 years, compared to 5 years for a popular and widely used diesel RV powertrain. The 10-year car powertrain warranty covers a 4-cylinder engine providing 138 HP versus a massive 600 HP diesel that should run virtually forever with proper maintenance. If I told you what it would cost for a significant repair on a diesel (or gas) RV engine or transmission, you would think I was joking.
Put another way, the 5-year basic auto warranty covers a $20,000 car that will probably be ridden rough and put away wet every single day, in all weather conditions. It’s worth pointing out that the 1-year warranty for the $50,000-$100,000 travel trailer mentioned above is for a vehicle that doesn’t even have a powertrain. No engine or transmission and the best they can pony up is a single year of coverage? Doesn’t exactly instill much confidence, does it?
This line of thinking prompted me to reach out to Jeff Shelton, the President of Wholesale Warranties (WholesaleWarranties.com), one of the most respected RV Extended Warranty suppliers in the industry –and one of Inc. magazine’s fastest growing companies. WholesaleWarranties.com came to our attention thanks to numerous comments from our customers. After a lot of due diligence, we now recommend them as a preferred vendor in our Extended RV Warranty Buying Guide –something we rarely do. In fact, when we first wrote our best-selling Extended RV Warranty Buying Guide, we badgered Jeff and his staff with a seemingly endless list of questions to learn about the inner workings of the RV Warranty business, and they couldn’t have been nicer –or more patient.
WholesaleWarranties.com specializes in extended RV warranties and they work directly with RV owners, cutting out dealers and middlemen. Since they work as a broker representing many underwriters instead of promoting only one, they can be refreshingly candid about various policies and the pros and cons of each. We’ve found this to be a much better scenario for RV owners than buying a policy direct from a dealer who only has one company or policy to promote.
Tip of the day: Since many RV dealers make more money on the extended warranty than the sale of the RV itself, today’s RV buyer can save thousands by purchasing their own extended warranty directly from a wholesaler. But you don’t have to take our word for it, contact WholesaleWarranties.com direct for a free quote BEFORE you buy your RV, and then compare it with the dealer’s extended warranty. If your dealer provides a better deal, take it.
We’re going to include some questions that the RV Warranty Experts at Wholesale Warranties recommend asking before you buy an Extended RV Warranty Guide:
- Do I qualify for RV warranty protection? This is going to vary based on where you purchase your policy. While most RVers associate warranties with the dealership where they purchased their unit, it’s important to know you have options! Many online providers are able to offer policies for a wide array of RVs. Wholesale Warranties, for example, can offer coverage to used and new units aged 20 model years old and newer, including dealership purchases, private party purchases, and even a rig you’ve owned for some time.
- What level of coverage is right for me? There is no one-size-fits-all RVer, so you shouldn’t receive a one-size-fits-all price! Your RV warranty provider should work with you to learn who you are as an RVer, your travel lifestyle, and your desired level of risk. A broker, like Wholesale Warranties, can be a great resource for learning more about coverage options.
- How is the customer service? Before you buy, do some research and read reviews from actual RVers who have made claims with their policies. If making a claim is a hassle, no one is around to answer questions, or claims are denied unfairly, your warranty won’t be worth the paper it’s written on!
- Can I see a copy of coverage? Always get a full copy of the policy before pulling out your credit card. You’ll want to read through the fine print yourself, and get a good grasp of what is and what is not covered by the level of coverage you’ve chosen! Pay special attention to exclusions, where you can take the policy for repairs, administrator hours, and the insurance company who backs the policy. Transparency is key in a confident decision, and a reliable RV warranty provider will be happy to provide a full copy of coverage upfront!
Okay, that’s enough for today. Wasn’t that more interesting than you thought it would be?
More on RV Warranties
And for those considering an Extended RV Warranty policy, just mention “RVReviews.net” at WholesaleWarranties.com (Toll Free 1-800-939-2806), and they’ll give you an additional discount.
Make sure and check your tire pressures before hitting the road this weekend.