We often hear from RVtravel.com readers who are having issues with RV dealers and manufacturers—consumer issues where we can sometimes help. This may be an instance where just a little “nudge” helped out Gregg and Cathy P. Their brand-new travel trailer came equipped with an “option” they’d never ordered: strange bubbles in the roof. When the dealer was called on it, he tried to excuse it by saying that “Some roof bubbles are normal.” That didn’t set well with Gregg and Cathy, and they reached out to us.
“Looked the unit over carefully”
Gregg and Cathy scrimped and saved to get a new RV for traveling in their Golden Years. They found a 2023 Apex Nano, a Forest River product, at RV Specialist in Goshen, Illinois. “Being aware of the junk that is being put out,” they recall, “we looked the unit over carefully before driving away.” But if you’ve ever shopped for an RV on a dealer lot, one place you’ll probably NEVER get to inspect is the rooftop. “Too dangerous!” is the common excuse. “Our insurance won’t allow you up there—too much liability!” We’ve heard the same arguments on dealer lots before.
Roof bubbles galore!
Result? Sometime after the couple got their new rig home, they had a chance to get a close look at the roof. Instead of the old-standby EPDM rubber roof, Apex used a relatively new product for the roof. It’s called Crossflex, and it’s a synthetic membrane system made by Dicor. It’s been used by RV manufacturers for about the last five years. Gregg and Cathy were most dismayed when they found “air bubbles all over the entire roof.” You can see from the photos they provided, these aren’t just little bubbles, nor just a few. On one side of the rig, they say they found an air pocket at least the length of the rig’s awning.
With a one-year factory warranty on the unit, the couple contacted the dealer, RV Specialist. They sent photos and videos, asking for help. The dealer responded, telling the couple that some roof bubbles are normal, but suggested the couple should drop the rig off for an inspection. When Gregg and Cathy e-mailed the dealer, requesting an appointment, they never heard back.
Forest River’s roof bubbles response
Worried the roof bubbles might create problems after the one-year warranty had expired, the couple reached out to Forest River’s customer service folks. They got an e-mail back from Debra O’Rourke, the customer service representative for the Apex line. O’Rourke told Gregg and Cathy that she’d spoken with a representative from Dicor and that, “They are stating that it looks to be a seam that has shifted and is very common.” Very common? Since when do seams shift, and since when are roof bubbles “common”? O’Rourke added that the Dicor rep advised that replacing the roof membrane wouldn’t be a good idea, as the construction methods used by Forest River on this unit included vacuum bonding the inner ceiling, the roof framing, and the roof itself together as one unit. She added, “It would be more harm than good.”
A nudge to Dicor
Most RVers would probably agree that the best place for bubbles is either in the bathtub, or in champagne. Nobody wants a bubbly roof, and so Gregg and Cathy wrote to us. We researched what we could about the new roofing product, and to see if other RVers had similar issues. We found a handful of RVers who reported bubbles in their Dicor Crossflex membrane, but nobody provided any answers to why this might happen, or what to do. Finally, we reached out to Dicor on a Wednesday, explaining in an e-mail that we had a reader with an issue with their roof. We heard nothing back that day.
The next day, however, on Thursday, we got a snappy e-mail from Gregg and Cathy. They told us they’d just heard from Dicor, and that Forest River offered to give them a “five-year, full-roof warranty including labor and materials.” They accepted the offer, and we’ll see if roof bubbles turn treacherous. Later in the morning, Dicor reached out to us.
We didn’t need to cover much background with the Dicor representative. He was already familiar with the case, and was, in fact, the rep that had contacted Gregg and Cathy. The representative was quite pleasant, and perhaps unusually forthcoming about the situation. He was quick to point out that in the five-year history of the Crossflex system on RVs, the company had never experienced any claims for a “blow off or leak” with the new system. He said that in the company’s view, Crossflex was the “strongest on the market,” despite its thin composition.
What happened here, anyway?
We wanted to know, just how “common” are roof bubbles with the Crossflex system? The Dicor man walked us through the process of installing a Crossflex system. That includes laying down an appropriate adhesive on the roof substrate—typically luan. The roofing is then supposed to be stretched, and squeegees are used “north to south, and east to west” to ensure all air bubbles are removed. If the installation instructions aren’t followed exactly, then air will be left between the substrate and the roofing—causing air bubbles. And just how many air bubbles are OK with Dicor? “Any air bubble,” the rep told us, “is not acceptable.” He went on to lament that while Dicor does have an “auditor” system to keep an eye on RV manufacturers installing their product, “You can’t be everywhere all the time.”
Evidently, Dicor’s auditor wasn’t in the Forest River plant when Gregg and Cathy’s Apex got the shoddy squeegee play. Just how the product will wear in the real world of heat and cold, wind and weather, remains to be seen. If their roof bubbles go ballistic, we’ll hope they do so in the next five years—while that warranty is still in effect.
Lessons for all of us
We’d like to think that the nudge, in the form of RVtravel.com’s contact with Dicor, may have helped Gregg and Cathy get the resolution they were looking for. If nothing else, it’s a good reminder for all RVers. Regular inspection of your RV roof is critical. If water leaks into your RV, serious and expensive damage is the likely result. If you’ve purchased an RV with roof bubbles, don’t let it rest.
Don’t walk on that roof in cold weather. If you step on one of those bubbles you will almost certainly crack the material and cause a leak. Then they will say YOU damaged the roof through abuse and void your phony 5 year warranty.
When we bought our used 5th wheel a few years ago we had our son meet us at the RV dealership. He owns a drone business and brought one of his drones with so we could inspect the roof with it. Fortunately we found no problems. With drones becoming more popular potential buyers might be able to enlist help from a friend or relative that has a drone.
A really good idea, thanks
Thank you very much for stepping in for this couple. RVers need someone willing to advocate for them when no one wants to take responsibility for defects and warranty issues. When the advocate has the ability to inform thousands of potential customers of the outcome (like RVTravel.com has) the dealers and manufacturers have much more incentive to “do the right thing” and take care of the customer. I had no idea that RVTravel.com would provide this kind of help to individuals. My opinion of RVTravel just went up several notches and I am glad I decided to pay to get the Members Edition and help RVTravel.com continue their important service to the RV community.
The fact that you had to step in is a black eye for Forest River and the dealer, RV Specialist in Goshen, Illinois. All potential customers should take note of their reluctance to take responsibility and provide a solution until being threatened with a Big Stick. OutdoorsRV.com and Northwoodmfg.com are two good manufacturers.
I always enjoyed the “RV Action Line” in Trailer Life Magazine. When Marcus got his hands on it the first thing he did was stop the article. The second thing he did was remove it from all the archived copies of the magazine!
Kudos to RV TRAVEL. Thanks for helping someone in trouble.
Dicor needs to come up with a permanent fix for this i.e. 20 year guarantee.
I find it interesting that “Dicor was quick to point out that in the five-year history of the Crossflex system on RVs, the company had never experienced any claims for a “blow off or leak” with the new system.” And that was the exact time frame of the extended warranty for the defective roofing material installation of their new RV. And too, RV dealers likely see many new RVs being produced with bubbles in the roofing material. To a dealer, those bubbles are very likely the normal RV construction of new RVs today.
Lesson learn check the roof everyone, However how many also check underneath the RV???
Bet few of us do. If RV comes with an engine did you check under the hood for leaks?
Just what I learned from being a senior.
Rv roof flex armour, lifetime warranty and no leaks. I have had my poli urea roof for about 6 years . The best money I ever spent. The factory should install it on all new rv’s.
What size camper and how much
If the dealer won’t let you inspect the roof before purchase, walk away.
Our first fifth had an aluminum skin on the roof.
if I ever need to redo our Cedar Creek roof that’s what I will put on.
I had an aluminum roof on my coachman c. Worst roof I’ve ever seen. Full of pinholes caused by acid rain? (Electrolysis)
Son in law and I put on a rubber roof over it. DIY For less than $450
I’ve had 7 RV’s with sheet metal roofing, and never a problem. My only RV with an EDPM roof was destroyed by constant leaks, despite constant maintenance. Because it appears all recent models are junk, I reconditioned my 2006 Work & Play, and will keep it for years to come.
AZ Expert, a fairly popular (>66,000 subscribers) RV tech on YouTube, routinely uploads his roof inspections and reminds viewers to inspect and care for their RV roof. His videos highlight common places roof failures occur and how to prevent them.
Thank you for that info Neal
I bought a 2016 Keystone Cougar 5’er in 2015, brand new. On my PDI I went up on the roof and I was aghast to find bubbles on the TPO roof membrane. When I asked the dealer about it, his exact words were “Oh, that will lay down when it warms up this summer”. Well, it got worse and eventually tore and was flapping like a flag going 65 mph down the highway. I bought it in Montana but lived in Colorado so taking it back to the dealer was out of the question. Calls to Keystone went unanswered and couldn’t find anyone to do the warranty work locally, because I bought it out of state is what I was told. I ended up fixing it my self (looong story!). The bubbles WILL tear, there is no doubt! Have it replaced!!
Wondering if you bought it from Bretz?
yep! what sh**show that was!
Thanks MattD. Sorry that happened and that Bretz blew you off!!
Good for RV Travel. I bet none of those Johnny Robot sites could have accomplished this!
I agree with you. The manufacturers of these very expensive, so called recreational vehicles, must be held accountable. Just what the h… is RIVA?? Has anyone on RV Travel used RIVA for warranty help?
I hope they got the 5 year warranty info in writing and didn’t just accept it via the phone call
Sounds like dicor has a good product poorly installed. I have two rigs, one sets full time on a site the other I travel in during the summer season. Both rigs get washed and inspected at least once per year. The one I travel in twice yearly. The guy who does this has been doing this sort of work for quite some time. If he says you have a vent cap that needs replaced or you have some cracking around this spot then it gets repaired. He hand washes everything. No pressure wash. I may pay a bit more for the service. But, it gives me peace of mind knowing it has been inspected by someone who has been on top of more rigs than most of us will ever see. Regular maintenance is crucial.
I will be on the roof of my RVs a minimum of once a year (so far, much more often than that) to closely inspect the roof, the roof mounted objects and all the seams.
I’ve been thinking about adding a drone mounted camera to my photography gear. And I’m thinking RV roof inspections is a good justification for a higher-resolution camera.
Since when does Forest River use vacuum bonding on a roof, sounds like a poor excuse to me ,this needs further investigation by the Rvtravel.com, Dicor, and the buyer. If I were the buyer I would have never accepted the five year warranty, and would also get legal help!!!!!
Kudos to RVTravel for helping to get at least some level of help. Perhaps even more importantly, a firm answer that NO bubbles should be allowed.
This is the kind of helpful service that, years ago, the great RVer advocates (several of them in the RV Hall of Fame) at Motorhome & Trailer Life Magazines and Good Sam Club used to provide before someone who IS the problem acquired GS and drove it into the ground, along with CW!
Looked at a new Alliance Paradigm 5th wheel last fall with the PVC roof material that looks like painted canvas. Not sure if that is the Dicor product. The roof looked like an unmade bed! Any tree branch contact would have ripped it open.
And they boast of some kind of super performance audit? I wouldn’t have had that roof on a dog house! 🙂
I hope 5 years is long enough…..
The RV manufacturing industry has “made their own bed” so to speak. Now most customers have little to no trust or confidence in the products they roll out..self induced misery! Legal advise is my recommendation!
Love the idea of making “How can we help” a regular part of the newsletter!