Caravan Warranty

Having rented a caravan and motorhome a few times, we recently started looking around to purchase our first caravan.
In our research both on-line and talking to other caravan owners, it seems to us that a high percentage of owners experience more than one defect with their new caravans and in many cases have difficulty in getting these fixed under warranty. In fact, the problem seems so common that I already found two sites on social media set up primarily to name and shame manufacturers and dealers of lemon and shonky caravans.
Choice’s advice on dealing with lemon cars is first to deal directly with the manufacturer and if that doesn’t work, report them to the ACCC. I am interested in other reader’s experiences in purchasing new caravans – whether they experienced any defects, how serious they were and whether they were fixed satisfactorily under warranty?
I also believe there is a call for Choice to run an investigation into Caravan and Motorhome practices in Australia.

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Hello @paul_of_the_forest

I think that normally you would deal with the business you bought the caravan etc from first, as under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) they are the ones primarily responsible for warranty.

Under ACL, you can go to the manufactures, but you can’t demand a refund or replacement, only damages sustained as a consequences of the fault. Having said that, the manufacturer may agree with the buyer to undertake repairs, without the seller acting as the go-between.

I would also suggest that you approach your automotive association such as RACQ, NRMA, RACV, etc as caravans and motorhomes are probably related to their area of interest. There are also caravan and motor home associations ( who might be able to give you valuable information.


Not good at all the latest one is to make a claim to each appliance supplier not the van manufacturer and that is almost impossible as you can work out. Most van dealers are hard to work with.

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Hi @mooneypat

According to information provided by the ACCC, the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) {this can be found at} states:

“Approaching the retailer or manufacturer
The retailer who sold you the product or service cannot refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer.
You can approach the manufacturer or importer directly, however, you will only be entitled to recover costs from them, which include an amount for reduction in the product’s value and in some cases compensation for damages or loss. You cannot demand a repair, replacement or refund from the manufacturer.”

"What is a major problem?
A product or good has a major problem when:
• it has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it
• it is unsafe
• it is significantly different from the sample or description
• it doesn’t do what the business said it would, or what you asked for and can’t easily be fixed.

The guarantee of acceptable quality takes into account what would normally be expected for the type of product and cost.

Products you buy from businesses should be reasonably:
• acceptable in appearance and finish
• free from defects
• safe
• durable
• able to do what products of their kind normally do.
If a product you buy is not one of these things, it does not meet the consumer guarantee of acceptable quality and you are entitled to have the problem fixed.

The guarantee of acceptable quality takes into account what would normally be expected for the type of product and cost."

“Replacements and refunds
You can ask for a replacement or refund if the problem with the product is major.
Replaced products must be of an identical type to the product originally supplied. Refunds should be the same amount you have already paid, provided in the same form as your original payment.
The business may take into account how much time has passed since you bought the product considering the following factors:
• type of product
• how a consumer is likely to use the product
• the length of time for which it is reasonable for the product to be used
• the amount of use it could reasonably be expected to tolerate before the failure becomes noticeable.”

From this it is clear that the business who sold you the van legally cannot pass you off to any manufacturers.


Good idea. Please include ‘slide on campervans’. I am hoping to resolve a 14 month problem at VCAT next week - with Beyond Caravans - based in Sydney. Beyond Caravans took a deposit and my made to measure slide on campervan was to be completed in March 2016. Lots of issues and Beyond Caravans refuse to send photos - I am not in Sydney - to prove the camper is completed and made to specifications. Will let Choice Community know outcome after the hearing.

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I am glad to see this topic on the forum. I am the admin of the Lemon Caravans & RVs in Aus Facebook group. The stories my members tell are horrifying to say the least. This is an industry that urgently needs a Senate Inquiry and regulation. Regulators are letting consumers down. The judicial system is letting consumers down. I have members reporting being thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands out of pocket, simply for purchasing a lemon RV.

My own issue is with Lotus Caravans. In spite of evidence of major failures, including that the caravan is not compliant to Australian Standards, the dealer simply refuses a refund. Why? Because they just can. The consumer has to take expensive legal action, depending on the State. I am in QLD and the Tribunal limit is only $25000. So I have to take it to a full court hearing. Only NSW and Victoria currently have adequate limits for consumers to get redress at reasonable cost. However these Tribunals have become quasi courts, allowing legal representation for the businesses, which force the consumer to also be represented. Then costs are not awarded.

No matter which way you turn, if you buy a lemon caravan you are more than likely going to be financially worse off. Consumers know their rights very well, from being a member of my group and being referred to the information on the ACCC web site. Sadly, with no enforcement, those rights are meaningless.

I hope that Choice will contact me and discuss a survey into this industry as quite frankly it is actually far worse and far more dangerous that even the lemon car manufacturing industry. Do you or your family want to be confronted with a jack knifing caravan because the ball weight is too light, or a wheel coming at you because of a manufacturing defect, or a caravan that explodes right next to yours? This is what is really happening.

I have written submissions to the Australian Consumer Law enquiry and the Productivity Commission enquiry into enforcement and administration. Consumer affairs and fair trading are failing consumers. I have so much evidence that for the most part they refuse to enforce the ACL when they can do so. They simply refuse. So the consumer gets a refusal from the supplier, a refusal from consumer affairs and often when they take it to a Tribunal or Court, they may win but they lose as they settle at mediation with a gag order, they get a result but have to pay their own costs or sometimes are even told to accept more repairs in spite of expert evidence and reports.

This is not a consumer protection system. It is a business protection system.


Having seen some of the Lemons that Tracy talks about little wonder their is a need for major Government and regulatory activity in this area. Self regulation is clearly not enough when some of the largest manufacturers can deliver very poor quality finished caravans and campers.

Think there are two quite separate issues in this area that in part reflects the huge number of small scale manufacturers operating in this area.

One relaters to Tracy’s issue with lemons … products that have so many extensive problems that they should never have been allowed to be sold or registered. They would not stand up to any sort of detailed inspection. Big question is how can we stop this junk ever getting onto the market? Not just that the odd van is a lemon but that for some manufacturers almost everything coming out the door is riddled with both major and minor construction and safety issues. Maybe we need to build in compulsory inspections (like building surveyors) who verify a van before delivery and who can be held liable for wrongfully certifying lemons.

The second is the actual warranty period that is typically encountered. 12 months warranty. Even on a van that costs $80K. A van that in the first 12 months may only be on the road for a very limited period of time … take delivery at Christmas and have 4 weeks away plus maybe another couple of weeks during the year. If you miss a wet period, none of the serious faults with waterproofing might have shown up. Stay on smooth tarmac and none of the glue and screw construction shortcuts may show up as splits and separations. Year two or three, mould, separation of walls, electrical problems, etc may all suddenly appear.

12 months is clearly not adequate. But when the market leader is setting the pace with a 12 month warranty there is little incentive to offer better although some clearly do with 2 and 3 year warranties.

Combine the two – poor design and build quality plus 12 month warranty and you end up with some very heartbreaking stories of saved for investments in caravanning turning into absolute financial disasters.

Buyer beware is essential. But this industry is now so massive and problems so extensive that a major enquiry is warranted.

Choice … if you set up a major survey you will have no trouble getting very high levels of involvement from recent buyers and quickly be able to put this whole area into perspective.


Thanks Rod. Sorry just saw this from you. Absolutely right. This issue is now getting some of the attention it deserves. I will keep fighting on until the industry is cleaned up, top to bottom.