Making Modifications to Your RV
I get asked these questions alot: “Is it safe to modify my RV? What about my warranty? Will it be voided?” There is a lot of misinformation floating around about what constitutes a safe mod and what will void your warranty if you do certain kinds of mods. Many RV owners tend to be the “do-it-your-self” types and enjoy “doing the mod”. If you fall in to this group, you should carefully consider the implications of certain mods. You know that really expensive extended warranty that covers your RV “bumper-to-tongue” after the factory warranty runs out that you added when you purchased your new RV? It won’t help one bit if you do a mod that causes a failure on a covered part. So let’s look at what mods are safe to do and what just might cause you some grief down the road if you are not aware of your warranty conditions of coverage.
One of the most popular mods RVers do is to add more storage. Most Class A RVs have ample storage but those that have towables know that available storage is very easy to use up. And if you have a generator, it’s often difficult for some to heft it in to the bed of the tow vehicle. Many opt to add a cargo carrying platform to the back of the RV instead. There are many variations on how to safely do this but one way is to have a welder build and weld a custom frame-mounted structure capable of handling the weight you want to carry. Here is what most warranties, factory or otherwise, stipulate about this kind of mod:
“This Limited Warranty does not provide coverage for any of the following:
Defects or damage caused, in whole or in part, by…unauthorized attachment, modification, or alteration of the structure, body, pin box, or frame of the recreation vehicle, including but not limited to trailer hitches for towing or platforms for supporting cargo…”
So in this case, even though it may be safe to do the cargo carrying platform mod, it appears that ANY modification made to the frame of the RV would void the warranty, but only for the frame. That’s right. The rest of the warranty would remain intact provided the mod did not cause any other covered item to fail, despite what the dealer may tell you. How is this possible you ask? It’s called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It states in part that:
“The federal minimum standards for full warranties are waived if the warrantor can show that the problem associated with a warranted consumer product was caused by damage while in the possession of the consumer, or by unreasonable use, including a failure to provide reasonable and necessary maintenance.”
This means that although the cargo carrying platform mod may cause damage to the frame in the event the platform fails, no other part of the RV warranty may be voided. So if your microwave stops working and you’ve done the cargo carrying platform mod, the dealer cannot deny you warranty coverage, unless the dealer can prove the mod caused the microwave to stop working.
Another popular mod is the high-power inverter mod, which, if done properly, can require major modification to the RV electrical system. In the event some part of the electrical system fails after the mod has been done, warranty coverage cannot be denied for the failed component unless it can be demonstrated that the mod caused the failure. Again, the dealer may tell you otherwise but it’s just not true.
There are literally hundreds of other mods that can cause a covered item to be denied warranty coverage, but only for items that mods affect. So before embarking on a mod frenzy, consider what mods you do and their effect on your warranty. Since most RVs only have a one year warranty (except motorized RVs), you can save the major mods for when you are out of the coverage period. Many mods however, such as the battery monitor mod, are fairly harmless to your warranty coverage.
So feel free to do mods that have little to no impact during your warranty period. When your warranty runs out, head over to ModMyRV.com for a giant list of mods you can crazy with.
Do you have a story or comment about being denied warranty coverage for a modification you have made to your RV? Please let us know and happy modding!