My question is, why are RV manufacturers so careless when building coaches? They drill a 3” hole in the RV floor to fish through a 1” power supply wire. It leaves a super point of entry for rodents. My power supply to the fuses comes thru the underfloor and is sealed off from any access. The underfloor is covered, so it’s not visible. Luckily, I was able to cut a hole in a storage compartment to gain access to these holes and seal them off. So, if people are having a problem with rodent entry, check your power entry to the underfloor. Thank you, Dave. —Al, 2019 Puma 257RESS Fifth Wheel
It’s an age-old issue with RVs that I have been pointing out in my seminars and articles for years, and not just the holes in the floor for rodents, but quality workmanship throughout. It all comes down to the bottom line: cost of goods and cost of labor, or how fast they can assemble the RV. It takes more time to run a wire through a 1” hole that might be nice and tight or snug than through a 3” hole and blast it with expandable foam. Also, it is a standardization issue as some models might have two or three wires going through the same hole and they do not want to spend the money to have three different sizes.
Most people shopping for RVs overlook construction issues
I have conducted seminars at RV shows since 1989 and have found that most of the people shopping for RVs get wrapped up in floorplan and things I call the “wow” factor. Those would include things such as full body paint, solid surface countertop, and tile flooring. They would overlook fit and finish and other construction issues. They just assume the unit is built like an automobile or fine home.
One of the questions I ask is who has built or remodeled a home? I then ask, “How long did it take you to decide on flooring, cabinets, and other amenities?” We spend days, weeks, even months looking at the different levels of carpeting such as fiber ounce per yard, action back backing, 2-3-4 lb. pad. But we never ask those questions when it comes to an RV. We assume it has high quality cabinets, hinges and other hardware, and that it has a quality mattress. Then we find out two or three nights into our camping experience it’s just a foam mattress with a cover called “Deluxe Supreme”—which is not a mattress company! Why not an innerspring, pillow top, or sleep number? Because that adds $500 to $2,000 just for a mattress. Since we aren’t looking for those items, it’s a waste of money for the RV manufacturer.
Most RV manufacturers build the cheapest rig as fast as possible
Keep in mind that most RV manufacturers strive to build the cheapest rig as fast as possible. Fit and finish is hidden with expandable foam, silicone, and a product called gimp, which is a vinyl strip used between cabinets and walls to hide uneven cuts and gaps. They use cheap fabrics, single-layer foam in cushions, and even low-level furniture that they give a fancy name like it’s designer quality when actually it’s a lower level than what you would find at a big box store!
Take a closer look. You’ll find particle board with a vinyl wrap, paneling used to look like solid wood, holes that look like they were cut out with a hatchet inside those cabinets rather than a nice cutout with decorative trim to finish it off. Nope, that all takes time, which costs money. Since the unit sitting across the aisle doesn’t have it, it’s a waste of money.
If there are two units sitting side by side that look identical but one is $5000 more expensive, there is $5000 worth of something in that unit. However, most dealers will tell you it’s because the unit is an XYZ and you are paying for the name! Nope, that manufacturer decided some of those upgrades are what their customers want, so it’s important to find those items. Then you have to decide if they are important to you.
I don’t need solid oak cabinetry, solid surface countertops, and tile flooring, as I only use the unit part-time in the summer. However, I do want higher line fabrics so they don’t fade. But, please, no “garment leather” or whatever they are calling the fake stuff as it will start to flake and deteriorate.
We shoppers are letting RV manufacturers get away with poor quality
So, why are manufacturers so careless when it comes to building an RV? Because we as shoppers are letting them do it. We drive the market, and if we don’t ask the questions and thoroughly inspect the units, we get what we pay for. I realize in your situation that since it was covered you can’t see those holes, but I would bet a closer look would show others that might start raising red flags.
You might also enjoy this from Dave
Quality debate: How can one “maintain” a product that was poorly made to begin with?
Regarding RV quality, I’m just wondering if the same can be said with RVs made in the last couple of years? The quality has been horrendous, and only getting worse, from base models to high-end. My question is how can one maintain a product that was poorly made to begin with?
Read the rest of the question and Dave’s answer.
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”
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No, if one unit costs $5000 more than another there is not $5000 more in value. About $1600 in cost and $3200 in excess profits.
Where is the other $200? You must have kept it!
Our 2022 Newmar New Aire seems to have been made fairly well. The cabinets are real wood and the corners of the drawers are dovetailed.
The statement is so true “holes that look like they were cut out with a hatchet”
Not all delivery quality issues are fixable, but many are. It is not unusual for a dealership to charge a fee around $1,000 for “dealer prep” on a new RV. My impression is this is primarily a profit gimmick that has little relationship to work actually done before the new owner takes possession. In too many cases it amounts to removing some shipping wrappers, a quick interior wipe down, a quick exterior wash, some propane, and a $50 battery. It is up to the new owner to figure out if anything else has to be done during his/her walk-through. And hey, whatever the owner didn’t catch is extra profit.
It really should not be up to me to bring a ladder, a crawler, flashlight, tire gauge, multimeter – and be expert enough to look at every seam, every seal, every joint, every hinge, and crap in the toilet to test the plumbing and the black tank sensors.
Dave, your comments are spot on.
I always see comments in forums answering a newbie’s question about what they should get that state “floorplan is everything!” My answer is always “Quality construction first, a company/dealer with service second, floorplan/amenities last.”
One can always find a floorplan that’s a good enough fit for your needs. Buy a piece of junk or deal with an uncaring manufacturer or dealer and that aggravation will be far worse than not having an exact match to your floorplan wants.
No problem, just don’t buy a poor quality RV. Oh wait, you won’t ever be RVing! Our Montana 5th wheel is better built than a lot of 5ers, but quality is still suspect. Buy the best that you can and be prepared to fix the little stuff. It is what it is.