News stories concerning the quality of the products being shipped from RV manufacturing plants continue to pop up in the media. This week, there was an interesting take on the issue on a news website called Jalopnik.com. The headline was “RV Dealerships Think New Campers Are Pieces of Junk, Too.”
Much of that story was a regurgitation of the story that we ran in RVtravel.com recently regarding RV dealers’ concerns with quality. The Jalopnik.com story also included a link to a 2019 story headlined “The Truth About RVs” that appeared on Curbed.com, as well as a reference to a survey of RV dealers conducted recently by Thompson Research Group and reported by RVNews.com. All of those stories substantiated the dealer comments made in our RVtravel.com story.
So, based on that info, what is a potential RV buyer to do? Be very, very careful – that’s what.
If you’re an RVtravel.com reader who spends time in the “Comments” section at the end of our stories, you’ve likely seen plenty of tales from panicked new owners who aren’t exactly thrilled with the second-largest purchase of their lifetimes.
New RV owner comments included items like, “When we got it home, we realized the slide outs didn’t work!” or “The toilet flush pedal was missing!” or even “The appliances weren’t the same ones that we thought we ordered!”
RV quality issues start to show up shortly after purchase
These problems, of course, materialize just after the newbie has pulled the shiny new rig into their driveway or – worse yet – their first campground.
New-to-RVing owners are working on the premise that “brand-new” means “no problems.” After all, you don’t plug a toaster into the wall at Walmart to make sure it heats up before you purchase it. And when was the last time you felt the need to have your brand-new car or truck inspected for issues before you rolled it off the lot? We’ve become a society that expects brand-new things to work as intended – and most of them do. So why would a close look at every screw, every window, and every plumbing and electrical connection be required when your RV just rolled out of the factory?
We don’t know why such a close inspection is required at the dealerships either. But it is.
It appears that new RV buyers are starting to catch on. The National RV Inspector Association (NRVIA) just reported that more than 10,000 people a month are performing searches on the group’s website (NRVIA.org), looking for qualified RV inspectors in their areas.
Stephanie Henson, NRVIA Director of Administration, said she started to notice the increase in August and said some months NRVIA has recorded more than 15,000 search requests on their site.
“When we developed the search function on our website, we hoped it would be a way for inspectors to get an occasional referral from people needing an RV evaluated, but I think 10,000 searches a month is incredible,” Henson said.
Be sure to get a certified inspector
Henson also warned that the popularity of RVs has led many untrained folks to jump on the inspection bandwagon. They’ve heard stories of housing inspectors and even automobile inspectors changing hats to meet the situation and claiming to be “qualified RV inspectors.”
So, there is yet another “buyer beware” area to keep in mind. Just as you don’t want to buy a lemon RV, you don’t want to hire an unqualified RV inspector. These things aren’t the same as the rain gutters on your house. You don’t want a cursory 30-minute walk-through inspection. You want somebody who is going to get into the details of your new rig and provide you with a complete report.
From the editor: To illustrate the points above, here’s a recent comment from one of our RVtravel.com readers: “My RV inspection was $1500. BUT…. The inspector was extremely thorough. He spent more than 8 hours doing the inspection and sent six fluids (engine oil, coolant, transmission, generator oil, and Aqua Hot fluid) to a laboratory for analysis. His report was 156 pages.”
Supply and demand
Here’s a mind-blowing stat. About 1,500 “completed” RVs roll off the assembly lines every day, and 2,000 used RVs are sold every day.
Those figures mean qualified RV inspectors are busy and are becoming as hard to find as qualified RV repair technicians. If you’re in the market for a career change, it seems either of those professions would be worth a look.
NRVIA (NRVIA.org) might be a good place to start your search, but they aren’t the only game in town. There’s also the RV Inspection Connection (rvinspection.com), as well as regional inspection services such as Pioneer RVI in Texas (pioneerrvinspections.com) and Florida RV Inspections (flrvinspections.com) to name a few. The trick is to hire someone you trust who works for you, not the seller.
Now, more than ever, RV buyers should assume nothing. Take the time to find qualified inspectors to help you in your purchasing decisions. Don’t take just anyone’s word for the workmanship on any rig. Do your homework right, and you just might have the RVing experience of your dreams.