More about poor RV quality

More about poor RV quality

 

By Chuck Woodbury
editor, RVtravel.com

elec-plug-772A major topic with RVers these days and on RV forums, is the poor quality of RVs being produced of late. Reader John Kiblin sent this letter and photo:

Wanted to send this along as an example of a very dangerous situation. This is a 2014 Coachmen that I bought new. Upon unplugging a small appliance the entire plug came out. Not only is this very shoddy workmanship but it certainly presents a shock hazard. Can you imagine a small child unplugging something and wondering what excitement awaited in the neat hole? And yes, I contacted Coachmen and got an apology and a suggestion to put a piece of wood behind it. No offer to fix it! Just thought I’d pass this along to hopefully keep others from finding the shocking truth….pun intended.

I receive letters like this all the time — readers complaining about poor quality or poor service on their RVs. The industry talks about improving, but in my opinion, it’s just a bunch of hot air. My guess is 95 percent of the people who make or sell RVs care about only one thing — selling as many as they can. Sad to say, most first-time buyers are so ill-informed about what to look for in an RV they are suckers for being sold a piece of junk, even though at a glance, the RVs look great.

I wrote an e-book a few years ago called “The Smart RVers Guide to Buying an RV.” At the same time I was helping write a script and then hosting a DVD for the Better Business Bureau titled “Buying a Recreational Vehicle.” Both included advice on how to avoid making common buying mistakes. The video is no longer sold, but is available in some public libraries. I am currently updating my e-book to help educate new RVers on the right way to buy an RV and not the stupid way, which, sad to say, is how very many RVers buy these days.

Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes I get angry about how little the bigwigs in the RV industry care about RVers. What they care about is making lotsa money. And, yes, there are good people who do care, just way too few.

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19 thoughts on “More about poor RV quality

  1. Ellen

    Great post, Chuck. We’ve been full-time RVing for about 8 years now and have bought two rigs in that time (a 38′ fifth wheel, then downsized to a 32′ Class C with toad) and definitely saw a decline in quality over those years.

    I’m wondering, though, how you’ll advise people to be smarter about buying an RV when many of the issues people are finding are behind the walls, above the ceilings…? How can one know they’re buying a unit that won’t leak around the windows because the hole for it was made too big (to use an earlier comment as an example)? Should you take all the face plates off the electrical switches and plugs to make sure they’re properly anchored?

    I don’t have to take the dashboard apart in my new Jeep to make sure the steering wheel is properly anchored. Yes, buyer beware, but hey! We have to draw the line somewhere.

  2. Brenda

    So much of what folks buy seems appealing but is not necessarily useful. Sadly, the only way to know what you need — particularly for newbies — is to live with it awhile, which is probably why folks trade units so often.

    Our built-in vacuum is more trouble to use than the stick broom we eventually bought. We seldom used the W/D in our motorhome. The overhead cabinets are almost impossible for an average height female to reach. The headboard is curved inward so it is impossible to read in bed ( the overhead light will give you a concussion). And the slide with those nice floor-to-ceiling windows? You can only see out of the top half because furniture is sitting in front of all of them!

    Wish I could afford to have one custom built. I have decided all I need is a DRY unit with a functional bathroom, a good king-sized mattress, and climate control.

    1. Mitzi Agnew Giles

      Look at molded fiberglass models. I’m a former backpacking /ultra lite camper, and I think we will do just fine in our lilsnoozy

  3. DRW

    Too many people are buying the floor plan and the “bling” factor with zero concern about the bones and build quality.

    My method is to avoid new motorhomes, and look for very high end older coaches that have depreciated into my price range, then update and modify to my taste.

    1. Bluebird Bob

      I agree. This is what we did.
      We bought a 1984 Bluebird Wanderlodge 16 years ago. No slides, no leaks and top quality parts.
      We have been managing an rv park in Quartzsite and see the problems the people have with their new rigs.
      People in the park tell us our 84 BB is better than their 2016 rig.
      Will we upgrade??? Not in our lifetime!!

  4. Mary Masters

    I don’t know if you saw this, but my son left it for me on my Facebook page. It’s funny, but sad at the same time.

    https://youtu.be/HWw904saLGA

    1. RV Staff

      Thanks, Mary. Readers, this is an 8-minute video by a “mere mortal” and his problems with a new Thor A.C.E. Class A motorhome, and the lack of response from Thor and Camping World. Kinda hokey in spots, in an attempt to lighten this up, but the message is serious. —Diane at RVtravel.com

  5. Jon D Katin

    Chuck, I have to agree with what you say. Unfortunately, I am not sure there is a quality constructed RV out there. We have bought several Monaco Dynastys over the past 15 years and really were pleased with the “old Monaco company” – well built and interested in customer satisfaction. That company no longer exists, as Navistar took every penny out of the company it could and left the dredges to AGS – parent company of Fleetwood. Now, don’t bother paying that kind of money for a Monaco as it has been degraded to a lower end Fleetwood.

  6. James in South Texas

    Sadly Chuck and the others are correct. At the cost of RV’s one would consider workmanship and the manufactures good name would go hand in hand. The recall list continue to grow, the list of poor workmanship increasing each day, and the number of complaints verbalized and written increasing, why is the RV Industry not listening?

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      James, the RV industry listens, it just doesn’t care. As long as people buy what a particular manufacturer makes and the competition isn’t any better, then they just keep cranking out bad RVs, or at least ones with many flaws. Consumers must do a better job of shopping for a quality unit. Sadly, Consumer Reports does not rate RVs and there is no other organization that I personally respect that does. — Chuck/editor

      1. William Fouste

        I used the resources of the non-profit RV Consumer Group, located in your home state, to purchase my first trailer with excellent results. Their reviews of manufacturers, led me to Northwood Manufacturing in my home state of Oregon.

        Since you surely are aware of that organization, I wonder why you don’t mention them as a resource. You do mention that there is “no other organization that I personally respect..”

        Informed buyers are our best way to support companies that manufacture, or try to manufacture good products.

        1. Chuck Woodbury

          I’ve heard both good things and bad things about that group, so do not recommend them.

        2. Glenda

          William, I also used RV Consumer Group. That’s what led me to buy a used Lazy Daze motorhome — a 2001 mid-bath model. The quality is excellent. I’ve been living in it for nearly 11 years.

      2. Glenda

        Chuck, what about rv.org? It’s an RV consumer group.

        1. Chuck Woodbury

          Some people swear RV.org is a big help, others say it’s a waste of money. So I can’t recommend this group.

          1. Sharon Naismith

            We, too used the RV.org group to find our 2002 Lazy Daze Class C. It was the best money we’ve ever spent on a product that expensive. I suspect the negative reviews about RV.org are from people who didn’t do their homework. They may also be RV salespeople for RVs the RV Consumer Group doesn’t recommend. Some people, friends of ours included, are too cheap to spend the $$ necessary to pay for the info. the RV.org gathers.

  7. PETE

    Is there a list of decent RV mfg.?
    How about Four Seasons and/or Full Time RV’s?

  8. Dan Dubay

    I Agree Chuck, I’ve bought 2 new RV’s in the last ten years and they both had issues..( still Have I should say)…Bad side walls, roof lifting, hole in a propane line from a screw,electrical receptacles falling out, moldings falling off, 4 bad radios, Slides banging and misaligned, junk tires, broken welds, Leaks, Leaks, Leaks when you cut the hole too big for the window you put in it?? On and on and on, I could go on for an hour just on two RV’s…Wish I had kept my older units…Much better Quality back then… All we can do is Hope they wake up a little at some point…Till Then, Happy Trails and Merry Christmas!!

  9. Tommy Molnar

    Unfortunately, new RV buyers seldom even KNOW where to look for good, solid information on how to look at an RV. Especially if none of their friends are RV’ers and they’re dipping their toes into the muddy waters known as RV dealerships with absolutely no advice to follow. Almost all brand new RV’s look good, but that’s no indication of value or quality. I don’t know what the answer is. Many new first time buyers decide to go to a large RV show “just to look” and end up falling in love with something they see – and buying it.

    And then the fun begins . . .

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