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How RV manufacturers hide shortcuts from you

Look at the photos below. It’s the heater in a cheap RV. A couple posted this at RV Horror Stories. They were having trouble heating the front part of their RV. They checked around with a camera but couldn’t find anything wrong. So, “we removed the board under our bed which gave us access to the furnace.”

And this is what they found. To save labor, the RV manufacturer simply coiled up the heating ductwork to fit in the small compartment rather than shorten it to fit properly. The result is that the hot air had to travel much farther to reach the front of the RV, losing precious heat every extra foot of the way.

Of course it doesn’t help that the ducting is not even connected to the heater. It may have come from the factory that way or vibrated out.

But the obvious shortcut here is that rather than spend a little extra to shorten the ducting, the manufacturer saved on labor by coiling it up. And the buyers got suckered because they didn’t examine the “stick and tin” RV close enough before buying it.

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Really
8 months ago

All great comments to this article.
THOR industries and the other BIG RV manufacturers know all about these problems and will do nothing to improve on the Quality Control.

It’s all about turning a Quick profit and hoping the buyers won’t discover all the problems that exist and won’t show up until long after the warranty has expired.

Bd2
8 months ago

My Thor class-C had heater hoses that were not hooked up, even the clamps were missing = lousy install and not from vibration. Also had two hoses exiting under the table and nothing in the kitchen, so I cut a duct opening, got a cover and even had enough hose to dump heat into the kitchen.
After ~40 years of manufacturing experience and study of Japanese methods I can safely say that paying employees by piece rate is absolutely the worst way to sustain any quality standards.

Gary
8 months ago

Your RV Horror stories link goes to RV Electricity. Just sayin’.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
8 months ago
Reply to  Gary

Thanks, Gary! I have no clue how that got in there! It’s been fixed. Have a great day. 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com

wanderer
8 months ago

The suggestion that all buyers are supposed to disassemble their rig to see if it’s perfect is more than a little bit insulting. I guess we’re supposed to open each cylinder on our vehicles to see if anyone made a mistake.

The manufacturers are greedy lazy slobs making slipshod goods with no inspections, and the answer is not ‘buyer beware’. It may take some giant tort lawsuits to get the attention of these makers.

Howard
8 months ago
Reply to  wanderer

WANDERER is totally correct! They just slam things together and don’t give a flip about the customer. Some day, a large collective Tort case will be brought against the large manufactures, and they will deserve it!

George
8 months ago

Looks like it was kinks in the duct, preventing air from flowing, rather than “losing heat along the way.” Same effect though.

Ray
8 months ago

Duct work is probably the most easily abused system when building an RV. It takes skill and patience to insure a good installation. On the other hand, all imperfections will be hidden so ,,,,,,,,. Prospective buyers should carry a pinwheel or meter with them to visually confirm or measure equivalent air flow thru equivalent vents.

Engineer
8 months ago

Maybe it was because of a shift change or left it before a weekend or holiday. It’s sad that no owner has ever made a mistake it always an OEM out to screw you. Sad….

Skip
8 months ago
Reply to  Engineer

When you purchase a new car you expect an engine to run, you purchase a new RV you expect it to blow heat throughout. It’s quality control all engineers know that.

Engineer
8 months ago
Reply to  Skip

Correct but mistakes happen in every manufacturered product. Statistics show that the vast % (>75%) of Thor product owners don’t have problems. Like all social media sites you only hear from the complainers and of course this site is no different. People don’t want to read the good news and most sites don’t talk about the good stuff because it won’t sell. Have a nice day.

wanderer
8 months ago
Reply to  Engineer

Another key problem in the manufacturing process is engineers who think they can do no wrong and nothing needs improvement.

ALL new rigs have problems. 75% of customers have learned not to bother bringing the rig in to a dealer who will hold the unit for months and do half-baked repairs. They handle it themselves, and it doesn’t wind up ‘on the books.

Billy B
8 months ago
Reply to  wanderer

Good One!!. The “Slide Rule” fits!!

Bill
8 months ago
Reply to  Engineer

So, do you really think 1 bad unit out of every 5 is acceptable quality?

John Crawford
8 months ago
Reply to  Engineer

No what is sad is the money the OEM charges for the shoddy work.

Bob
8 months ago

While I was adding a shelf under the kitchen sink in my new toy hauler, I noticed the duct ran up from the floor and over the drawer slide brackets and then down to the outlet port. 10 minutes work routing it under the brackets eliminated about 12 inches of duct and now it’s a straight shot.

Eileen Brown
8 months ago

While at an RVSEF conference, we were told by a Thor VP that all labor is paid “piece rate”…in other words, the faster you build, the more you are paid. You get what you measure. My hope is that many new buyers will finally be able to overcome industry lobbying and get lemon laws to apply to rvs. That may begin to spell the end of how this industry has operated for so long, and move us closer to a “total quality” approach.

Bob P
8 months ago

With all the bad publicity Thor gets you would think someone would take notice and take corrective action, but as long as the customer accepts the terrible quality Thor will never change. Of course most people don’t find out about Thor’s reputation because they’re to busy watching cable tv sitcoms instead of researching their prospective RV, and are to accustomed to the auto industry warranties and think RV industry warranties are the same, they are not. RV dealers are not under any obligation to honor the manufacturers warranty. That’s why if you didn’t buy it there they don’t have to fix it there. If congress classified RVs as essential like cars they would legislate better quality manufacturing laws. Since congress listens to money whoever shows up in the congress persons office with the most money is who they listen too.

Eileen Brown
8 months ago
Reply to  Bob P

Bob, agree …. it always helps to “follow the money”.

Really
8 months ago

Everyone who reads these articles on this Forum, should make an effort to go to Elkhart, IN (where most RV’s are made) and take several, (not just one, but several) factory tours!

It will open your eyes to the SHODDY workmanship these companies put out, with very little quality control.

Quick example: I was in Howe, IN a couple of years ago. Visited the Mobile Suites Factory (or DRV now). High end 5th wheels and they USED to be one of the top of the line, until THOR took over! I observed numerous build problems in most of the units on their line, that would be covered up by wall panels and never seen by the customer. Allot of Screws that went through the wall, but never attached to anything else. Screws that went right through Outlet wiring. A Very sad situation and these are 5th wheels that cost in excess of 100K!

I have owned 2 DRV 5th wheels, back in the day when they were very good. Wouldn’t even consider another one today!

Thomas
1 year ago

My fiver had 2flexible duct pipes leaving the furnace.The outlets where extremely hot. Too much heat and not enough air movement. Also no heat register in the bathroom which was right on the same wall. I added a heat here and added another duct to the forward bedroom,separating the factory ductwork to reduce Static Pressure on the existing lines. The temperature was reduced and a lot more comfortable and less noise. They won’t spend an extra dime to make it right. Who does the engineering, 1st graders with crayons?

Ray Leissner
1 year ago

Kinda makes you wonder what the rest of the systems are like. But if you don’t test them all before purchasing you run the risk those may not work properly.

Abe Loughin
1 year ago

More than the extra length, all of the sharp bends is what was causing the heat loss. Ducting should be as straight as possible and any turns should have as large of a radius as possible.

Joyce Collins
2 years ago

In my 2018 Thor class C there is a gap about 1 inch wide you can see the road. Heater did not work, called an electrician none of the wires tucked up in the A/C area were connected. Very poor workmanship

Joyce Collins
2 years ago

My Thor class C has a gap at the passengers side about 1 inch wide you can see the street. None of the wires tucked in the A/C were connected. Very shoddy work on an expensive RV

Bd2
2 years ago

This is exactly what I found on my Class-C. The heater hose was not hooked up to the heater and since there was not a hose clamp in the space or on the hose I can only deduce that it came from the factory unassembled. When you by a new or used rig, assume nothing and look very carefully under and behind everything.

Ron
2 years ago

I would think that this would be more in the area of either forgetfulness or laziness. If the mfg heater installer had shorten the duct, the remaining part could be used in another rv….thus a savings for the cost of ducting overall for the mfg. Also, pointing to the fact that the duct was not even attached to the heater, also makes me believe that this may be just another case of poor installation practice and maybe even isolated to this one rv.

Fred G
2 years ago

A careless building detail for sure. What’s new?
Speaking of duct work, while nosing around in the guts of our motorhome when first purchased, I replaced all accessible flexible duct work with flexible INSULATED duct work. Made a big difference in the temperature of the heat delivered into the living space.

Mike M
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred G

I thought of that also, but realized that some of that lost heat was helping to keep my water lines from freezing on my winter trips.

Jay
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike M

Can the water lines be insulated? Does the freezing of water occur at the outside water source or inside the RV?

Bill
2 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Jay, the answer is yes. The water lines can be insulated (where you can get access to them) but they will still freeze if there is no source of heat. Most campgrounds that operate in freezing weather use frost proof hose bibs at the campsite, but they will freeze if left on in freezing weather. The idea is to fill your tank, then turn it off and drain your hose. Some will put heat tape on the hose bib and allow heated hoses, but that runs up the electric cost. Leaving a faucet dripping may help to keep the lines from freezing, but your sewer hose (and valves) can freeze too.

Roger Marble
2 years ago

IMO When this kind of shoddy workmanship is discovered both the MGF and Dealer should be named. The dealer needs to know what they are selling. With enough bad posts, one would think the dealer would demand better quality. The MFG probably doesn’t care about an individual owner since MFG don’t seem interested in developing brand loyalty.

Drew
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

X2 on Roger’s post.

terry Rule
8 months ago
Reply to  Drew

Yes I agree name the manufacturer.
I cringe when I read the reviews and problems new trailers have.looks like these poor building practices have been going on for many years.No regulation so buyer beware of new and used.

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

Even seasoned RV’ers who are looking to buy a new RV, would probably not get this far into the guts of the unit while doing a pre-buy inspection. The dealer is not going to let you disassemble half the RV while you look for shoddiness.

MATTHEW BUCAR
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

You are right however you could test the heat, test the air conditioning and everything else in the RV. Don’t just look at it. My gosh people are so willing to be taken advantage of. And not naming names just lets these huge previously private held companies get away with murder. All the junk being produced needs laws to impact the builder. Thank the Congress for being bought off by the likes of Buffet.

pm5000@fastmail.com
8 months ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

There is no advantage to knowing who is doing bad work, ALL the makers of affordable RVs are substandard. The wealthy can spend for premium brands and custom work, the rest of us are screwed.

The dealers know very well what is going on. They have seen quality goods sit on the lot while cheap ones sell. They should band together and demand better, but, they don’t care enough to do that. We’re all on our own.

DAVE TELENKO
8 months ago

FYI: There is no miracle in buying an expensive RV to be exempt from crappy workmanship, give me break! I have a Forest River Diesel pusher we paid a ton of money for. Let me tell you there was a lot wrong with it. Even after 4 years stuff is still screwed up after many warranty trips to the incompetent dealer! I had to either fix it myself or pay money out of pocket. You saying you should have sued them, well I did, till I found out it was a 2 year process with no guarantees and, OH ya, you can’t use your RV while waiting for a court date!

Michael
8 months ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

I would like to hear from RVT why they do not name the manufacturer and dealer.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
8 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Hi, Michael. I went back to the original post from 2019, and the RV was a 2017 Coachmen Mirada 35BH. However, other readers wrote in and said they had similar problems with Forest River, Jayco Pinnacle, and other brands. —Diane at RVtravel.com

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