Purchased motor home with leaks what are my options?

Recently on our forum a user asked, “If I bought a used motor home from a private individual and found out a few days later that the mobile home had leaks do I have any legal recourse against the seller?” 

Steps before you buy a used car

Ideally, before anyone buys a motor home they should take a few steps to ensure that they are not buying a “lemon.” Steps recommended include inspecting the vehicle, test driving the vehicle, reviewing the repair maintenance record, determining the blue-book value of the car, reviewing independent sources to determine the history of the car, and most importantly, having an independent mechanic inspect the car to identify any necessary repairs.

The good news is if you have taken the steps above you are less likely to have any surprises after you have purchased the car. If you did not take the steps above and you have not been satisfied with your purchase, however, you may be wondering if you have any options. 

Dealerships and purchasing a used car

Protections offered after a used car purchase will depend on whether you purchased the car from a person or a car dealership. 

If you made the purchase from a used car dealer the guarantees offered on car post sale will vary by state and by type of vehicle. Some states may allow car buyers the right to terminate a sale within a specified period of time, generally three days. Other states do not have this requirement, but dealers may choose to offer some type of money-back guarantee per the contract. 

Additionally, if the seller sells more than six cars a year they may also be required, under the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule, to provide a Buyers Guide with some vehicles. The Buyers Guide will detail the warranty policy and what repairs are paid under the warranty. Some states, such as Wisconsin and Maine, however, are exempt from the FTC’s Used Car Rule. 

Car buyers who were provided a FTC Buyers Guide should review that information to determine what recourse they have for their car. If there is a warranty described in the Guide it will override any contractual claim that the car is sold “as is.” 

Some states -Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia – have eliminated the “as is” sale option for used cars.

Implied Warranties and used cars from a dealership

Another issue, which only applies to sales from dealers, is whether there were implied warranties with the sale of the car. In many states there are unwritten promises for used cars sold at a dealership.

Specifically, there are implied warranties that the used car must meet reasonable quality standards. Implied warranties can be eliminated but only through a contractual agreement between buyer and seller.

So for example, if you bought a car from a dealer and the dealer failed to notify you that it would not run, you may have a breach of implied warranty of merchantability, which implies that the car sold should be able to perform its basic function.

Private sales for a used car

Now, let’s discuss your actual question: the purchase of a vehicle from a private dealer.

If you bought your motor home from a private individual they are not required to provide any type of Buyers Guide. There also may not be any type of implied warranty.

Therefore, if you did not have any type of written contract that specifically made any type of guarantees about the motor home then the private sale is generally assumed to be “as is.”

In some cases, however, the vehicle may be covered by a manufacturer's warranty or a separately purchased service contract so it’s worth a discussion with the seller to identify if either of these exists.



Bottom Line:

If you buy a car from a used car dealer there are Federal Trade Commission rules and state laws which regulate the sale of these vehicles. With this in mind, you are likely to get some type of money back guarantee or vehicle certification if the car develops any operational issues post sale.

Unfortunately, buying from a private individual generally eliminates all guarantees and vehicle certifications, unless the specific guarantees are included in the sales contract.

In this case the warning “buyer beware” applies. It was up to you, the buyer, to review history reports, hire a professional to inspect the car, and test drive the vehicle prior to purchase.

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