How Long Do You Have to Return a Travel Trailer? What to Know

Purchasing a travel trailer is an exciting investment, but returning one can be tricky. Return policies vary widely between dealerships and manufacturers. Most sales are final with no returns allowed. However, some exceptions exist.

This article provides an overview of the complex return policies for travel trailers. I’ll look at the differences between dealers and manufacturers. The clear answer is that returns are very difficult in most cases. 

While returns are limited, understanding the policies upfront helps avoid surprises later. With thorough research beforehand, you can buy confidently knowing the return rules. Read on to learn more before purchasing your travel trailer!

How Long Do You Have to Return a Travel Trailer

The ‘As Is’ Nature of Travel Trailer Sales and What it Implies

Travel trailers are commonly sold on an “as is” basis, meaning the dealer has no obligation to take back the unit or refund any money after the sale is completed. This places all responsibility for the trailer’s condition and performance on the buyer.

A. Common practice of selling travel trailers ‘as is’: Most dealers and private sellers will advertise and sell travel trailers in “as is” condition, disclaiming any warranty coverage or obligations once the trailer leaves the lot or changes ownership. This is standard practice in the RV industry.

B. Implications of ‘as is’ sales on return rights: With an “as is” sale, the buyer typically has no recourse to return the trailer for defects, problems, or mismatched expectations. The buyer owns the trailer, regardless of any issues that arise. Unless warranty coverage, lemon laws, or cooling-off periods apply, the sale is final.

Exceptions to the ‘As Is’ Rule: Warranty and Lemon Laws

While most travel trailers are sold “as is,” there are some important exceptions in the form of manufacturer warranty coverage and state lemon laws regarding defective products. These provisions can sometimes override the “as is” policy.

A. Manufacturer’s warranty coverage: Most travel trailer manufacturers provide limited warranty coverage ranging from 1-5 years against defects in materials and workmanship. This coverage may allow buyers to get defects repaired or funds returned if unrepairable issues arise.

B. Protection under state lemon laws for defective products: Some states have consumer protection laws, known as lemon laws, that provide recourse for defective recreational vehicles, including travel trailers. These laws have specific requirements for repairs or refunds.

Cooling-Off Periods for Travel Trailer Purchases 

A small number of states and specific dealerships provide short cooling-off periods for travel trailer purchases during which the buyer can return the unit for any reason for a full or partial refund.

A. Existence of cooling-off periods in some states and dealerships: Buyers may find relief in some cases through cooling-off periods. Less than 15 states have cooling-off laws for vehicle/RV purchases. Some dealers also offer their own cooling-off policy as a perk. Typical periods range from 2-15 days after purchase.

B. Timeframe and conditions for invoking cooling-off periods: To use a cooling-off period, buyers must return the travel trailer in the same condition before the period expires. Fees/mileage deductions may apply. Strict adherence to the policy is mandatory.

Factors Affecting Return Eligibility of Travel Trailers

While most trailers cannot be returned once purchased, certain circumstances like fraud or lack of disclosure may provide grounds for canceling the deal.

A. Damage or defects discovered after purchase: Pre-existing issues not evident before sale may enable return if proven to have been missed or concealed by the seller. 

B. Misrepresentation or fraudulent practices by the seller: Evidence of fraud or misinformation from the seller regarding the trailer’s condition could invalidate the sale.

C. Non-disclosure of material information: Discovery of problems like flood damage that sellers failed to disclose provides cause to overturn the purchase.

How to Return a Travel Trailer

For the limited cases where returns are possible, proper protocols must be followed for best results.

A. Contacting the seller or manufacturer promptly: To have the best chance of returning the trailer, buyers should notify the seller/manufacturer of their intent to return as soon as qualifying issues are apparent. Delayed action reduces success odds.

B. Providing documentation of the issue and supporting evidence: Building a strong case is essential. Detailed documentation should be supplied to the seller/manufacturer illustrating the grounds for return and linking the seller’s misdeeds or faults to the problems. 

C. Following the seller’s or manufacturer’s return process: Every business has protocols for processing returns, which buyers must follow rather than just abandoning the trailer at the lot. This aids resolution.

Potential Restocking Fees and Deductions when Returning

Buyers should be prepared for various fees and deductions to their refunds when invoking a valid return, per most policies.

A. Common practice of charging restocking fees for returned travel trailers: Potential costs, such as restocking fees, should be considered. A 10-20% restocking fee for the seller’s costs of reselling the unit is commonly applied. This covers preparation, inspections, storage, etc.

B. Deductions for mileage, damage, or modifications: The seller will assess the trailer’s condition and subtract charges for mileage use, damage, and any buyer alterations from the refund amount.

Alternatives to Returning a Travel Trailer

If the travel trailer in question cannot be returned, buyers may still be able to get value via other routes.

A. Seeking repair or replacement under warranty: For issues covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, repairs, replacement parts, or a new unit may be obtainable at no charge to the buyer.

B. Pursuing legal action for breach of contract or lemon law violations: Consulting a lawyer to request compensation or rescission of the deal through the courts is an option if dealers are unresponsive to valid claims.

C. Reselling the travel trailer privately: The travel trailer could potentially be resold to an interested private party to help recoup some portion of the original investment.

Return Policies and Procedures for Rental Travel Trailers

Renting a travel trailer is very different from purchasing one, especially when it comes to returns. Rental agreements lay out specific return protocols that renters must follow.

Rental Period: Rental contracts specify the exact rental period, with a set checkout and return date/time. Renters will be charged additional fees if they return the trailer late. Extensions may be allowed if arranged in advance. 

Rental Location: Renters must return the trailer to the same rental facility they picked it up from. One-way rentals involving dropping off at a different location carry extra charges.

Rental Condition: The trailer must be returned in the same clean, undamaged condition as when rented. Policies prohibit modifications, smoke/pet odors, missing items, or damage beyond normal wear and tear.

Inspections: Staff will thoroughly inspect the unit upon return for any issues like leaks, malfunctions, scratched surfaces, missing parts, etc. Extra charges will be assessed for identified problems.

Late Returns: If the trailer is brought back after the agreed return date without an approved extension, substantial late fees are typically applied per the rental contract. These often occur daily.

After-Hours Returns: Most rental locations have office hours for returns. If renters drop off the trailer outside these hours, they must follow procedures like leaving keys in a drop box. Additional fees may apply.

Fuel Level: Travel trailers may be rented with fuel tanks full and must be refilled before return if so. Failure to refill may incur charges for the rental company to refill the tank.

Cleanliness: Renters are responsible for emptying waste tanks and returning the trailer free of trash, food particles, stains, pet hair, and other debris. Cleaning fees will be billed if the unit is dirty.

Damage: Any damage incurred during the rental must be reported upon return. Repair costs will be taken from the renter’s security deposit if applicable. Severe damage may warrant additional fees.

Rental policies are strict to protect rental companies’ assets and ensure smooth operations. Renters should thoroughly review and adhere to all return requirements to avoid extra charges. Planning ahead helps facilitate an easy, cost-effective return process.

Your Questions Answered

1. What paperwork helps when trying to return a defective travel trailer?

– Detailed documentation proving issues present at the time of sale that were not disclosed or were fraudulently misrepresented by the seller.  

2. Can you get your money back if you simply changed your mind after buying a trailer?

– No, buyer remorse or change of mind is not grounds to return a purchased travel trailer and receive a refund.

3. How soon must you act to invoke a return policy or cooling-off period?

– Return policies and cooling off periods have strict time limits, usually ranging between 2 days to 2 weeks after the purchase date.  

4. Can a dealer’s verbal promises overrule the written contract terms disallowing returns?

– No, the signed sales documentation governs returns. Verbal statements will not enable a travel trailer return if excluded in writing.

Bottom Line

Returning a purchased travel trailer is extremely difficult except in special legal circumstances due to the standard “as is” sale mentality. Those buying a travel trailer should thoroughly research any return rights and protections in advance. Consulting qualified legal advice may be wise to clarify options if defects arise post-purchase. With preparation, you can avoid problems down the road.

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