I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago about how my wife and I are considering either stopping our RV trips or downsizing from our fifth wheel to a smaller travel trailer. Finding a quality campsite has become a problem, and we are all faced with challenges due to small and undesirable sites we are often required to use.
Last week we went to an RV dealership in northern Arkansas and looked at 30 to 40 units, and I have never seen such an awful manufacturing mess in my life. We started with travel trailers, where the poor quality was unbelievable. Nearly all lack gel coat and the finish was so thin the fiberglass fibers can easily be seen. The finish is dull and appears it would last only a short time. All of the interior wood products look like they were cut out with a skill saw (none had router edges), sanded and then appeared to be finished with a paintbrush with an ugly black material.
Some manufacturers are now offering self-levelers, and they are nothing more than electric screw jacks and not hydraulic so they are also cheap and their life will be limited. The frames, axles, wheel bearings and tires are also the least expensive available and in my opinion dangerous. The showers are also a terrible mess because all had thin fiberglass panels covering the walls which were held on with plastic pop rivets instead of a unit being installed. In my opinion, these units will have a very short life and owners will either sell them for a fraction of what they owe or the bank will repossess them. When that happens, most of this junk will be purchased for basically nothing by a new owner and will end up parked in our campgrounds as full-time residents.
After travel trailers, we looked at fifth wheels with brand names like Montana, Big Horn, Big Country, Solitude and others and to our surprise, we saw the same issues with them as the travel trailers. The only exceptions were some had hydraulic levelers and what appeared to be a good gel coat. However, we only saw one trailer with disc brakes, and in my opinion, all of the heavier campers need them.
WE ALSO FOUND ONLY ONE UNIT with a power windup power cord. Based on what we saw there are no quality units being manufactured and everyone buying this junk will soon be in trouble. It amazed us to see how many families with young children are shopping for these cheap RVs and little do they know what lies ahead. I can’t imagine how many old units are being traded in for the new rigs that have plenty of glitter but no substance.
Based on our analysis so far we are much better keeping our 2011 HitchHiker, which we had made to our specs. Keeping a larger RV was not what we preferred but based on the junk we’re finding it makes sense.
We have a couple more trips to RV dealers before we make our final decision, but I believe we see the handwriting on the wall – which is to stay away from new units. In reality, it probably does not matter much because of problems with the huge numbers of RVs being sold. It has already become nearly impossible to travel during the peak summer vacation. The effort will soon outweigh the benefits of RV travel. The only “happy campers” will be the junk manufacturers who will laugh all the way to the bank.