Beware Of The Lemon!

Hey Travelers, so… you may be set on buying a van in Australia, maybe it’s your time and you’re ready to embark on that adventure of taking the path less traveled. If you’re a new caravanner and still trying to navigate your way through the minefield, this article may help you out.

Ever heard of the term ‘Lemon’ in the context of a caravan? Well, as you might imagine not all caravans are made equal, manufacturers use different materials, construction methods, quality checks, and so forth. Although they can be similar, they’re not identical.

Unfortunately, some buyers end up with something called a ‘lemon’, which basically means you end up stuck with a van that’s got some major defects or issues leaving you unable to even use it. Usually, these are issues that are dormant, and not disclosed by the seller or the retailer.

Left with a lemon after an extensive purchase can be frustrating, in some cases it can be dangerous if the defects affect the towing safety or structural integrity of the vehicle.

There’s a stereotype in Australia that the industry can be unregulated, and that the construction process may involve shortcuts that can compromise safety features. Although, there’s not much evidence to support said stereotype, as a buyer, unless you’re specifically in the market for a lemon… you can avoid them by:

  1. DYOR [Do Your Own Research]: investigate the manufacturer, the dealer, and the product. Looking at reviews and ratings can be helpful, if it’s negative, consider asking the manufacturer and the dealer why they have bad reviews.

  2. Organize a pre-purchase inspection: you can get a qualified mechanic, inspector, or technician to investigate any potential defects or issues before purchase.

  3. Read, read, read: take your time to go over the warranty and contract with a fine-tooth comb. Pay close attention to disclaimers, and limitations of liability and ask questions on any of the terms and conditions that you may not understand to find out to what extent could you be at risk.

  4. Know your rights: as a consumer, you can be protected by the Australian Consumer Law. If you believe you’ve bought a lemon, you could be entitled to a refund or repair under the laws.

  5. Trust your gut: after you’ve taken your time, and you feel confident and comfortable with the van in mind, at that point if you can safely say you’re making an educated decision and happy with your van then you can sleep soundly knowing you took the precautions necessary.

Sum it all up, it’s fun seeking a van. Like with cars, you just need to get out there and find what you like. Good luck!

1 Like

It’s so hard to know what you’re looking at though (for me anyway), especially used vans, how do you really know if you have a lemon or not?

@SusieQ depending on whether or not life has given it to you and if you can make lemonade out of it hahaha.

No, it’s hard to tell. Even the best manufacturers can make a van that has a defect that could be classed as a lemon. It happens with cars. The best thing to do is use knowledge as power in your buying decision and go with what feels right.

@SusieQ buy it and wait to find out

if you are not experienced or mechanically minded it can definitely be difficult to make a buying decision. My advice would be to take plenty of photos or videos & share them with the community on this forum & we can try to help.