What You Need to Know About RV Recalls

Nov 4, 2020 | Maintenance & Mods

What You Need to Know About RV Recalls

Here’s how to check if your RV has a recall, how to address RV recalls, and other important safety information.

By Rob Cochran

Just like other vehicles, RVs and their components can get recalled. In most cases, a recall is issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when an RV or its equipment doesn’t meet or violates one or multiple Federal Safety Requirements. A manufacturer will also sometimes voluntarily issue the recall. 

The NHTSA issues recalls in regards to the safety function of RVs. These include brakes, tires, airbags, seat belts, lighting, or anything that protects drivers and passengers from death or serious injury in the event of a crash. There may also be a recall for any safety issues related to appliances and other components. The NHTSA does not cover manufacturer customer service or other non-safety recalls. 

The recall process is important to your safety, but can be confusing. Below, we’ve outlined how to check for RV recalls and the next steps you need to take in remedying the recall issue. 

How to Check for an RV Recall

If a safety recall is issued, the manufacturer is required to notify all owners and purchasers via mail. However, there are a few different ways that you can stay up to date with recalls on your vehicle. 

You’ll need your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in order to look up a recall with the NHTSA. Your RV’s VIN can be found in a few different places, which vary based on the type of rig you have. For Class Cs, the VIN is usually in the same place as on a car or pickup truck, below the driver’s side windshield on the outside. In Class As, the VIN is usually located on a sticker on the inside wall, next to or behind the driver’s seat. For fifth wheels, you’ll most likely find your VIN on the front lower exterior wall on the roadside or along the framework of the pin box. On a travel trailer, you’ll find the VIN on the front lower exterior wall on the roadside, along the frame, along the tongue, and inside exterior compartments or interior cabinets. Your VIN should also be on your insurance card and registration. 

Once you have your RV’s VIN you can plug it into the NHTSA’s database. Here you’ll find information on any RV affected by a safety recall in the past 15 years. If you’ve purchased a used RV that has a recall listed, we recommend that you check with the manufacturer to see if your specific rig has been repaired in line with the recall. 

Example results page on the NHTSA when searching by a recalled RV's VIN.
Results page on the NHTSA database when searching by VIN number for a recalled RV.

To stay on top of future recalls, you can subscribe to the recall notification system to receive automatic alerts for your specific vehicles and RV. The Togo RV app also notifies you if there is a recall on your RV. Just make sure to keep your rig information up to date and you’ll be kept in the know about any safety issues. 

Images of the safety recall notifications in the Togo RV app.
Togo RV app recall notifications.

Your tires will also have their own identification number (TIN) on the sidewall. You can use the NHTSA database to look up safety recalls on them as well using the Tire Recall section.

Common Types of RV Recalls

RV recalls are about safety, not product quality. Some of the typical safety issues that you might find with motorhomes include engine and battery malfunction and driving mechanism failures, like faulty brakes. In both motorhomes and travel trailers, you may encounter safety issues with the electrical, plumbing, and AC systems, as well as tires, fire alarms and extinguishers, and appliances. For travel trailers, safety issues may occur with the outriggers, slides, and axles. 

While there may be design or quality issues that are common in specific RV models, and the manufacturer or supplier might be aware of those issues, you typically will not be notified unless there is a safety concern. If a manufacturer is made aware of a problem during the warranty period, there’s a good chance that they will cover the repairs. Otherwise, it will most likely become the RV owner’s responsibility outside of the warranty period. This happens frequently with owners that do not use their RV very often during the warranty period and fail to notice a problem. Two examples:

  • An LP gas regulator is discovered to have a faulty gasket material that may cause a gas leak, resulting in a potential fire. This would trigger a recall.
  • A toilet is discovered to have a faulty gasket material that may cause a water leak, resulting in potential water damage. This would not trigger a recall.

It’s a good idea to join an owners group to find information about issues specific to your rig or brand.

How to Read an RV Recall

Example of an RV safety recall.
An example of a safety recall issued to an RV on the NHTSA website.

Here’s an example of what an RV recall looks like on the NHTSA website. It shows the campaign number for the recall, name of the manufacturer, what components of the RV are affected, the potential number of units affected, a brief summary of the issue, what the remedy is, any notes, the affected rigs (make, model, and year), and associated documents like the recall acknowledgment and defect notice report.

Explanation of the affected RVs on a safety recall.
An example of the affected rig models on an RV safety recall.

You’ll want to determine if your specific unit is directly affected by the safety recall and reference any material provided by the manufacturer as well as the dealership where you purchased the RV. If the recall appears when searching by your VIN number, or your RV is listed as one of the affected rigs, it’s important to take the next steps. The defect notice report will go into more detail to determine the issue based on the make and model of your RV.  

What to Do If Your RV Is Recalled

In order to determine how to address your RV’s safety recall, you’ll want to look closely at the remedy steps. These will tell you how you will be notified of the recall, what facilities will repair the safety issue, if the repairs will be done for free, when the recall goes into effect, the recall number to reference, and who to contact with questions. 

RV at a mechanical service center

If there are recalls related to issues with the rig itself, you will most likely need to get those repaired by your dealership. For recalls on appliances and other components, the fix will be done by the appliance or component manufacturer at authorized service repair facilities. All types of safety recalls are issued by the manufacturer. 

In most cases of dealing with a safety recall, it should be taken seriously and addressed immediately. The defect notice report will explain what safety precautions to take while awaiting repairs. Be sure to follow this guidance and contact your dealership as soon as possible. If you’re on the road, you can use Togo RV’s service feature to find nearby dealerships and service repair centers. 

If your rig is less than 10 years old, you do not have to pay for any service related to the recalled issue. If your RV is more than 10 years old, it’s still worth asking the manufacturer if they will cover the repairs. Dealers are required to repair recalls in accordance with the recall notice. If they refuse, you can file a complaint with NHTSA and contact the manufacturer directly. 

Tire recalls are valid for tires purchased within five years of the defect. To avoid paying, you must bring the tires to be serviced within 60 days of receiving the manufacturer’s notice. 

If you’re experiencing urgent safety issues but your rig doesn’t have a recall, there’s always a chance that you’re the first to find the problem; most recalls start with a customer complaint or safety issue. If this is the case, notify both NHTSA (either online or by calling the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236 or 800-424-9393) and the RV manufacturer of any safety issue. If the item is a component issue, such as a refrigerator or furnace, you should also notify the component manufacturer. 

A Note About Used RVs and Recalls

Before buying a used RV, you’ll want to do some research in order to determine if there have been any safety issues with the make and model. 

Search the NHTSA database or enter the vehicle’s information into the Togo RV app and you’ll be able to see if there are any open safety recalls. If you’re buying a used rig from a dealer, ask for a written confirmation that they have addressed any open recalls. If purchasing from an individual, ask if they have any documentation or information on services performed in relation to safety recalls. And for any future recalls that might come up, know that you do not have to be the original vehicle owner to get repairs made.

recallsRV MaintenanceSafety

Rob Cochran

Rob Cochran is passionate about making life better for RV owners and technicians. He has been in RV service operations for over 30 years. He’s a RVIA master certified RV technician, education chairman for FRVTA and Head of Service for Togo RV.

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