Warning for Potential Caravan Buyers
Caravan industry insiders express concern that too many manufacturers and importers compete in a limited and highly competitive market, hence this warning for potential caravan buyers – how to buy a caravan. RV Books and the Caravan Council of Australia share this concern.
Potential buyers need to ensure their proposed caravan complies with Australia’s safety regulations. These are currently (early 2021) in the Australian Design Rules. The Federal government’s Vehicle Safety Standards branch, however, recognises there are problems in Australia’s caravan industry. Its new Road Vehicle Standards Act is effective from July 2021. This Act replaces the 1989 Motor Vehicle Standards Act.
The effect of inadequate rust protection.
Road Vehicle Safety Standards Act
The 2021 Road Vehicle Safety Standards Act allows larger caravan companies a lengthy period to meet the new requirements. Hence, it is likely the new law’s intended benefits will not become apparent until mid-2022.
The caravan industry veterans warn there are non-compliant caravans. The new regulations, however, do not guarantee all future caravans will be fully compliant. Nor do these regulations apply to manufacturers and importers. Some companies that produce caravans in small numbers will be exempt. So will be industry newcomers.
Not all makers have the resources and experience essential to manufacturing safe, high-quality caravans. Also lacking are standard professional after-sales service and repair facilities.
Unfortunately for owners of defective or non-compliant caravans, the new Act is not retrospective. Affected owners can only continue to pursue action against the selling dealer. Not the maker.
Australian Consumer Law
Australian Consumer Law protects customers who bought unsatisfactory or unsafe products. Dealers, however, may attempt to avoid their responsibilities. Some advise buyers to seek redress from the caravan maker. If that happens, consult a lawyer. Whoever sold you the caravan is legally liable.
The Caravan Council of Australia (CCA) states: ‘It is vitalthat potential buyers do their homework thoroughly before deciding on a particular make and model.’ Furthermore, ‘that a salesperson does not persuade them to buy a better (i.e. higher-priced) caravan, which may or may not, live up to promises made.’
How to buy a caravan
Buying a caravan is a significant investment. Make the purchase on a practical basis, not emotional. Moreover, sales staff are professionally trained to sell. Caravan buyers, however, are not trained to buy. As a result, buyers are likely to suffer remorse when they realise their purchase lacks expectations.
There are, however, free detailed independent checklists available for potential buyers of caravans. See www.caravancouncil.com.au. Tel: 0409 865 399.