Family sours on RVing over new RV’s problems

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letters to the editorMy wife and I purchased a new 2017 Thor Miramar 34.3 bunkhouse, a dream motorhome that we hoped could be enjoyed by the entire family while our kids were still young. This was our third RV (we previously owned a 2001 Coachmen class A and a 2011 Winnebago class C).

We immediately found that the RV had serious quality control issues on our day of purchase (screws lying around, fuses missing, brake lights and the chassis air conditioning completely inoperable to name a few).These things were all eventually worked out. We felt that this is “par for the course” with this RV and were willing to deal with it.


AFTER OUR FIRST TRIP, however, we realized we had a major malfunction due to obvious quality control shortcuts (or none at all). Our RV had a 30-foot full-wall slide powered by the Lippert Schwintek 500/1 motor system (a poorly designed system for such a slide in my opinion). The slide stopped working on our first trip. We returned it to the dealer and found, to our dismay, that it was missing an entire track of the 3TRAX system advertised in their 2017 brochures.

The dealer remanufactured the slide. But we continued to have problems, mainly slide drift while driving and circuit faults. We sent the RV back to Indiana this past winter, only to have it returned to Connecticut with the same defects (mainly slide drift).

We had to hire a consumer rights attorney and now find ourselves still in litigation while missing out on an entire camping season. Our RV purchase has caused us tens of thousands of dollars due to a lack of simple quality control measures. I am embarrassed to admit I missed the faulty slide myself but even more upsetting is the fact that no one at Thor caught it either. Clearly, this RV never went through a quality control protocol.

I have read so many similar issues about poor quality control, many of which cause heartburn and threats of litigation. The manufacturers are just taking advantage of good economic times by shortcutting the quality control part of RV craftsmanship.

We were once a young, happy RVing family who shared many positive RVing experiences and encouraged friends and others to RV, exactly the type of family we think the RV marketing community values. Now we are disgruntled and skeptical, certainly not proponents of the RVing life any longer.

I could go on. But I think you have the point. — Jason L.

NOTE FROM EDITOR:
You and others may enjoy this video, where the owner of a Thor A.C.E. motorhome shows off its many quality issues.

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Brian Templeton

I am thinking of buying a used 2006-8 ALFA GOLD motorhome from somewhere in the States. I live in Calgary up in Canada, and I would much appreciate any and all comments about owners experiences, problems etc., with these units. Thanking to everybody in advance for their advices.

Michael Thornton

Don’t feel bad. I have had the same problems with Camping World in New Braunfels. Had the motor home in the shop for three weeks to fix the backup camera and nothing got fixed. Camping World is a terrible place.

Older VN Vet

We sold a 2 year old Mercedes chassis Forest River Class C and purchased a 13 year old Tioga SL with just over 10k miles on it. Why? the depreciation on the Benz in the next 2 years would have been more what we paid for the used Tioga. The build quality on the oldie but goodies is fantastic compared to barely mediocre on the newer one. Benz dealers get $275 for an oil change. The Tioga costs me $25 for synthetic Mobil1, filter and 20 minutes of my time. If it breaks, the Benz can’t be towed due to height and overhang; you’d need a low boy trailer, otherwise you’d scrape the rear. We felt like real dummies imagining the Benz 3 star quality also applied to the RV. We are now very educated RV shopper and echo many comments about the older RVs being better. If you’ve been watching the market over the past year or so, the price of used Class C models has been going up, not down Hopefully, these comments might explain why.

PappaJ

As to Thor, my daughter purchased a 2015 Thor ACE Bunkhouse. Nothing but problems. I am thankful that Thor conducted a 200 point inspection before it left the factory (so the dealer said) and the dealer (Mobile Home Specialist in Alvarado, TX) said they conducted a 200 point inspection. WOW! How can so many defects be overlooked by two separate 200 point inspections. Unit is now in service to have the slide out repaired. I am thankful Thor began using the newer track system; otherwise I do not believe the slide would have ever worked!! Too many other defects to discuss–buyer beware!

Roger Scott

#ThorLacksIntegrity We special ordered a 2017 FourWinds 26b from Tiara RV in Elkhart, Indiana. I decided to support the local economy. Not sure which is worse, the dealer or Thor. Thor evidently has written us off as being not worth satisfying. We did a lengthy search, attended RV shows and spoke directly with factory representatives of Thor, then made a decision to order a new 2017 Four Winds 26B specifically because of the advertised GCVW of the unit on an E450 chassis. Much to our dismay our rig was delivered on an E350 chassis. We didn’t realize it at first. yes there was a sticker on the fender but honestly never paid much attention that it said 350 and not 450. Evidently Thor was making too many E450s and decided to switch our model to an E350. Nobody asked if we still wanted it or not, they just delivered it. After bringing it to their attention numerous times (i have a build sheet, factory literature, and factory printouts from their website) they took the attitude of “sorry about your luck!” The 18,500 GCVW of an E350 is far less than the 22,000 GCVW of the E450 and since I own a convertible and a commercial car hauler, it made sense to get the E450 and retire! And when it comes to quality, there was none. The fresh water tank had finger size holes, the dealer got stood up twice on parts which cost me two lost days of work waiting on parts and repairs. Every water fitting leaked water (finger tight), the bathroom pee trap fell off front not being tight, only half the bathroom wall is attached (it’s ugly but I glued it with contractor glue). The control center wipes were not tied out and interfered with the top drawer, the floor is uneven and the linoleum is not glued down in many places, moldings have fallen off (which I ugly glued them back on too), cabinet doors are warped (i fixed by adding cabinet latches), the water pump works intermittently, the entry door wouldn’t lock with the deadbolt (did get that adjusted when they were fixing the water tank). BTW it was NOT the dealer doing the repairs… they wouldn’t respond to any of my email requests about service. The slide trim came unglued. I reinstalled both heat pads with gorilla tape and flex seal since they were falling off, as was the wiring for them. There are air gaps around the entry door where you can see daylight, as well in places along the outside walls where they apparently did not add any seals or sealant. Being retired military and from a family with a short life expectancy I can’t afford to just stop living my life while I fight with Thor. I real American company would stand by their word and their product and not SELECTIVELY choose who they make happy. I sold a 2013 Keystone Cougar and a 2006 Lance Camper to make this deal work and now I have to make the best of it. I’m not made of money and this one a one time shot at a retirement motorhome. Some say “it’s entry level” and I say that’s crap. My 1995 Starcraft popup was entry level. This is my luxury RV. Fortunate for me I’ve been able to move on and make use but unless Thor makes peace with me I guarantee I will encourage others to buy elsewhere because for me “it’s personal and it’s about integrity.”

Ray Shaw

I have bought 1 pop-up, 3 travel trailers, 1 fiver, and 7 class As. All of them were bought used. All of them served our family well. The only one that wasn’t all I hoped, was 2007 Georgetown XL. The build quality was not as good as any of the others. Equally the owner did not maintain it well. We now have a Itasca, and couldn’t be happier.
Another issue is service. We use a local small RV dealer. It is also where we have bought most of our RVs. There service department is fantastic. They are fair, good, and do the service in a timely fashion. Every one there knows our names, and many know our grandsons. The mega dealers, only care about the money.

Bob

Had a 2014 Thor Chateau. In for repairs more than not. Traded for Pheonix Cruiser 3100. Couldn’t be happier. Great engineering, great quality! Last summer 16000 miles thru Western Canada and Alaska. Not a single problem even with all the bad roads. Will never have any other than Pheonix Cruiser.

Jim Bennett

A catch 22 problem is while many older vehicles,and trailers,are built better than a lot of the new “stuff”…the problem is many RV parks wont allow rigs older than 10 years.I have ran into this problem in many areas,so some food for thought.

Linda P

I agree with the other folks who said to buy an older model, but quality built RV. I retired in December, and we bought a 1995 Prevost Marathon. My husband had researched all of the options and decided he did not want any slides. Also, this particular brand is built to last. While the color scheme (interior and exterior) were vintage 1995 (all original decor and equipment) we were able to redo the interior ourselves as my husband is a general contractor with lots of additional handyman skills. We took it to the Prevost repair facility in Jax, FL to make it road worthy. We still want to get the outside repainted, but that is not in the budget yet. We are in this for a SMALL fraction of what a new motor coach would have cost. A few small issues have popped up, but they have been easily fixed by my husband.

Karin Callander

Just like the original poster, we researched quite a bit before we purchased a 2017 Holiday Rambler Vacationer 32A XE from Alliance Coach, in Wildwood FL. One of the major reasons for making a purchase from THIS dealer was his stellar reputation for quality service. WHAT A JOKE! And a cruel one at that. This coach has been a nightmare from day 1, where we first noticed the shower stall leaking. Day 2, we found the slideout collecting water on the roof. Water from the air conditioner, not even rain. Numerous fit & finish issues, including screws loose or in the wrong place;TV wiring gone bad, total and complete failure of the navigation/camera/radio, step motor failure, and doors not able to close (we’re talking the ENTRY doors, not just the cabinet doors). In fact, the dealer techs told me I could only have one door close properly, did I want the outer door to close or the inner, screen door. REALLY? The attitude of the service reps at the dealer was, well, it’s a motorhome, and you’re going to have problems, and it’s going to be here (at the dealer’s) more often than it will be in your driveway. True that!

The slide out was rebuilt at the dealer, after multiple visits and complaints, and when it STILL collected water, we contacted the factory directly (REV Group, in Decatur, IN). They asked us to return the coach to the factory, to allow their techs to work on it and theoretically, resolve the manufacturing defects. Well, we went, at considerable expense, I might add. (We were told they would reimburse us the fuel costs, but we’re still waiting for the check, 3 weeks after they received our receipts. Heck, we’re still waiting for the rep to acknowledge receipt of our receipts!)

Anyway, after taking our rebuilt slide apart, and finding multiple issues with the dealer rebuild, including short plywood, omission of an under slide roller, misalignment of the furniture upon replacement, broken welds, and missing glue in the headliner, the factory techs rebuilt the slide once more. All was fine for a day or two, but I’m sure you can imagine our disappointment when we found water puddling up on the roof again. 🙁 And now the rep is telling us that is normal and expected, and working as designed. REALLY? This coach has had significant water intrusion at least 10 times in the year we’ve owned it. I’m sure mold and rot will set in well before its expected lifetime is up. I’ve asked the dealer once, and the factory rep twice, where, how, and to whom I can return this unit. I have yet to receive any answer.

All I can tell you is that we’ve had 3 tag alongs, a 5th wheel and now a class A. They’ve all had slides. ONLY the HR Vacationer has had a canopy over the slide. ONLY the HR Vacationer has collected water on the slide out roof. ONLY the HR Vacationer has had fit/finish issues.

When we toured the factory, they proudly announced that it only takes them 2 days and 2 hours to push out a new RV. Seems to me they’d do better to spend a little more time and do a few more quality control checks, and maybe they could be proud of their finished products, instead of how quickly the products were produced.

So, poster, in conclusion, take solace in knowing you’re not alone, there are thousands of us in your boat. Yeah, I know. It’s hardly consolation, is it. 🙁

Dennis R Strope

I first researched, in expectation of buying, for approx 10 years prior to buying an RV, and after reading “Steels On Wheels”. I fiscally settled on Crossroads and purchased a 2011 Rushmore. Things went well the first year, with normal (I considered them normal) deficiencies and problems. After all, it’s on wheels and bounces down roads. I attended a rally, in Indiana, for owners and toured the Crossroads factory. I posed the question, “what about quality control?” The answer I received; “if something is found wrong at the end of the line, the responsible party has to walk to the coach, past his co-workers, basically a `walk of shame` and that was their quality control. I am still in the Rushmore, after six years full-time. Currently considering “Redwood”. I believe I will be a smarter consumer this time around.o

Joan Richardson

I found my RV (2001 Dynamax 28ft) on Ebay. I won the auction, much to my surprise, for $29,500. I flew to Oregon and drove it back to the Bay Area. This rig had 12k miles, plus garaged by previous owners. Were there issues?sure, but minor. I wouldn’t buy a new rig due to the price and undependable quality. Mine is going strong with about 20k miles now. Go with better quality used.

Rosemary

Thor workers were handing out flyers on street outside the FMCA rally in Indiana earlier this year listing complaints about the working conditions at the factory including what they said were unrealistic timeframes for work to be accomplished and working conditions in the plant. I wish I kept the flyer to share.

John

I think it really is the luck of the draw, the day of manufacture (Monday, Friday?), etc. As Chuck mentioned, two ‘identical’ models-one a nightmare and one a dream RV. There seems to be no consistency in the quality of construction. Those completely happy rarely voice their satisfaction whereas those who have purchased a nightmare, rightly shout from the rooftops.

Mik and Jennifer McCauley

My husband and I traded in our Glendale Titanium on September 18th and purchased a new 2018 305rl Montana High Country 5th Wheel from Camping World in Roanoke VA. We were treated like Royalty as we signed our name on the dotted line. We also purchased the extended warranty and Good Sam’s Insurance.
So we left as happy campers! When we got home we pack all of our personal things and made it camping ready. We went over it with fine tooth comb making sure everything worked, which it did UNTIL we tried our tailgater.
When we would connect from Port out side, NOTHING! If we ran the wire directly to tv without going through ports, PERFECT!
So anyone person with some common sense would know there is a problem with the port.
So we take it back to Roanoke Camping World.
This is a 3 hour drive for us, one way.
Well, the honeymoon is over! Have we been given the run around! We still, as of October 28th have no camper! Camping world says they have to get an ok from Keystone, Keystone says parts aren’t covered. Keystone tells us their campers are gone over 3 times before they leave the lot. WELL SOMEONE DIDN’T DO THEIR JOB!!!
It is upsetting when you purchased something and everyone is all over you to buy. Then, when you have a problem with your purchase you are pushed aside, avoided when calling, lied to, and treated like they could care less about fixing something that was just built in August 2017.
Does anyone have advice on how to handle this?
Very unhappy customers of CAMPING WORLD OF ROANOKE AND KEYSTONE.

Bill

Chuck, in Jason L’s comment above, I was wondering why he was on his third motorhome. What happened with the other two? Did he have problems and thought “third time’s a charm”?

Paula

Is “what do you drive or tow” no longer a part of the rv travel newsletter?

bjensen6

We bought a 2007 Four Winds 23′ Class C new. The thing had loud rattle from the first day. We figured out what it was when the microwave fell out of the cabinet. We traded for a used Coachmen Leprechaun and even though we have had to fix a few things everything was put together right to begin with. I am proud to recommend Coachmen and always warn people away from Thor products.

Gary Holtzman

I’ve been in the market for a Class A RV, been seriously considering the Thor Outlaw Residence. After reading the article that the RV delivery driver wrote and some other horror stories, I’m not really sure if it is worth the risk. Who has the best rated quality control? Is it just a crap shoot? I’m looking for any advice I can get and would certainly appreciate it. I’ve also read several horror stories regarding dealerships. Any highly recommended dealers out there?

Dave Albright

The comments “par for the course” and “willing to deal with it” in my opinion are part of the problem. As long as buyers continue to accept these these poorly built units with the expectation that dealers will quickly repair them, the manufacturers will go on their merry way raking in the dough. Stand up for yourselves! It’s your hard earned money you are giving up. Is this the type of work you do yourself or accept in other products you buy?