Reader abandons plan to buy another RV

18

Dear editor:
Thank you for your truly informative newsletter. I am retired and was looking to buy a Class B for extended travel. But after seeing all the problems you point out with RVs and their poor construction, useless warranties and general reliability problems, etc., I’m going to pass.

As well, many of your readers indicate that now good campgrounds are either over-full and very hard to reserve or increasingly expensive. Municipalities can’t seem to differentiate between citizen RVers and the expanding homeless. They are no longer RV friendly as far as I can tell.

Boondocking in Southern Arizona with 100K other people or sleeping in a Walmart parking lot doesn’t seem like fun. I think sadly that the golden age of the carefree RVer is over. —Harvey Schuck

Dear Harvey,
It’s sad to hear of someone giving up RVing, but we do understand that anyone who has been paying close attention to the state of RVing in America could be discouraged. I suspect most RVers who have enjoyed travel by RV for a decade or two would admit that it is more challenging these days based on ever-diminishing availability of quality campsites, challenges with RV quality, or getting work done in a timely manner. That’s not to say that RVing cannot still be a fun way to live or travel, but we do not think you are alone in your decision to abandon the lifestyle.

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18 Comments
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Darrel
5 months ago

Class Bs have the fewest issues since the shell is from a automotive based factory. Less to go wrong.

David Binkley
5 months ago

I can completely understand where Harvey is coming from as I am in the same boat. Have postponed pulling the trigger on what would be our fourth motorhome and am amazed everyday at what I read. From ongoing and relentless quality control issues to overcrowding just about everywhere anymore the desire to get an RV is waning.

That said, if we do end up getting one, it will be one that is very well set up to be off the grid which, as another here has mentioned, opens up a lot of alternatives.

One other thing: I am amazed how the number of RVers has increased substantially in what seems to me to be the past five years or so. When I read threads on the various sites I all too often see the word Newbie attached to the headline.

I am not against Newbies so to speak but RVing is like the stock market and flipping houses: As soon as everybody and their brother is getting into it, that is the time to get out of it…If you know what I mean.

Margaret Coffey
5 months ago

It’s too bad but if you cant handle some of life’s adversity you belong at home hiding in your closet. Yes it can be nerve wracking at times, it takes some planning, and rolling with what happens. But living in a sticks and bricks is full of compromise and planning too. It just depends on what kind of person you are. We love it. Yes we plan where we’re going but we’ve been doing it long enough to know where it’s going to be crowded and avoid it. We keep money set aside for any emergencies that come up. Sometimes bad things happen sometimes good things happen. Its life and we love our RV life.

Priklypete
5 months ago

We are snowbirds and when we arrived at our site last year our new refrigerator stopped working. It was under warranty and took nearly 2 months before the parts became available and was fixed. I can truly understand why many RV’rs would feel frustrated with this industry. We pay hard earned money for our rigs that are half asked put together, with tires and axles that are not up to the task they were meant for and constantly waiting for repairs. If you’ve never been in this situation, just wait, your turn will come.

Brian S. Holmes
5 months ago
Reply to  Priklypete

Yep, this is why I carry a good size toolbox some critical spare parts and have educated myself on most if not all repairs. You can find anything about it online now so there`s no need to wait months for anyone. order it, pay for it, consider it the true cost of ownership and move on. Warranty whiners do it themselves.

Mike Dunalewicz
5 months ago

I disagree. It isn’t that I disagree That there are challenges and you laid them out. However, we are in our fourth year of doing this and the positives far outweigh the challenges. On the other hand, if you are going to lose your mind over some imperfection, then this lifestyle is not for you.

Sally
5 months ago

Unless One has unlimited financial resources, a new rv can and more times than not proves to be very cumbersome. The rv manufacturing has slid to a place of complete chaos. The best made units still today were made prior to 2009. The steel they used for frames, the aluminum they used in the skeleton, the cabinet wood, the flooring, the electrical, the plumbing( many many new units dont use Pex anymore(which has been an rv plumbing staple for years because it flexes and has anti freeze properties)-hence the floods people have (that werent caused by high water pressure) absolutely everything that entails manufacturing an rv since 2009 has deteriorated so badly its hard to reconsile.

We know that our 2004 has a superior foundation compared to one made last week and delivered for 3X the price our unit ran MSRP in 2004. Sad. People are loosing their entire savings or they have transfered their home investment of 30 years to these rolling caddy shacks that probabaly wont last more than a few years, and even if it does make it they will have most likely encountered setbacks from warranty work that may or may not ever get done before the warranty expires.

Its really well hidden though, as the gingerbread hides the ugly reality for these people on the showroom floor. You cant see it . You buy it because it “feels new” and then badly badly get buyers remorse.
It is realistic that one would need to weigh the pitfalls of a new rv.

The rv industry today, is seriously walk in step akin to the bank shorts that tanked our market in 2008, its well hidden, and by the time its realized its too late the money is already spent, one difference is there is no consumer protection for the consumer for the loans, the manufactures or the dealers all of which are on the take(not that they should not make a profit) . The consumer is totally and completely ALONE.

Think about it this way, if they have deleted so many quality components from their builds, and cheapened everything its made with so much, then one would reason these rvs should be priced in accordance with the downgrade in materials, thus the loans should be lower and the repair work should be lower because again, its all made way cheaper. But it is the opposite. The rigs are costing 3x more AT least. Which means , the dealers, the loans, and manufactures have kept the savings they should pass on to consumers for these inferior products and delivered a unit someone took out a loan for 100K over 15 years(average) that will probably start falling apart 1 day after the warranty expires(1 yr,2yrs? now)

Most people who are in step with not having many issues with their unit either do common maintenance thus they catch it before it becomes an issue anyway, rarely use their unit or have older rigs. A person who rarely uses their rig obviously will not know of its hidden faults as use is the only way to know. A person who runs an older rig more often than not, does so because they are well aware of the issues with new rvs.

Greg Gerber nailed it. Years Ago. His piece was published a year after we bought our rig. Originally we had been approved for a note, for 10 or 15 back then, we backed out of the note and saved up and went used. So. So glad we did we almost got sucked into it. We bought our unit from a couple who bought it new in 2004, planned to retire and travel, plans changed one of them got sick , but they were saddled with their note, they sold it to us for what was left on the note, which was 16K. at the time it had a retail value of 25-30K on any lot. we wrote an agreed value policy on it for 25K with a full timers package because we know if anything ever happend to it, we wont be buying new, so we will need an AV policy to buy another used unit .

Good Luck to all who venture the *New* Rv route. you will need it.

Fred
5 months ago

Sorry to hear you’re being “put off” by all the negative views about today’s rving landscape. If you’re computer & internet literate, you can get an education & any answers you need instantly from the internet. We started fulltiming 10 years ago & set up our fifth wheel for boondocking. We have experienced little to no problems or stress due to increased rv park crowding because we are completely flexible about where we stay & can spend our nights pretty much anywhere we want . In 10 years of fulltime travel, we rarely ever make reservations & with frequent boondocking, we’ve only once been asked to move on during the night (in the town of West Yellowstone, when we tried to stay on an empty city dirt lot). If you are mechanically inclined, & are comfortable being flexible, & aren’t stressed out by last minute changes in travel plans, then I would encourage you to re-think your decision to abandon the rv lifestyle. It’s hard to describe how exhilarating this life style has been for us. We can’t imagine any other life style now as long as our health allows us to continue exploring this beautiful country

Paul Goldberg
5 months ago

We have been RVing since 2001 and full time since 2011, sold the house in 2012. We live in a 36 foot DP. As years have passed we have become aware of increasing traffic of RVers. We mostly have traveled off season so seldom have had a problem getting into a space overnight or for a couple of nights, planning ahead a couple of hours generally works for us. This summer will be interesting as we head for Alaska. RVing is not for everyone, for people who need everything nailed down in advance can be very disappointed. All it takes is one breakdown or sickness to blow a season’s reservation if you insist on booking ahead. We settled on a home base in SoCal for winter and move around the rest of the year. AS for crowds, we do a lot of foreign travel and have found that many places we want to go are overrun with tourists. If I let that change my travel plans, I would give up a lot of the travel we do. Often sites that have been featured in series are overrun with people interested in nothing but the series. We avoid those places.
For maintenance and on the road service we rely on local techs and service people who do not work for dealers. As noted we are in a DP, there are Freightliner service centers everyplace we go. There are mobile techs everyplace as well. Park owners know who the good ones are and are more than happy to give a referral. Our recent breakdown – cost us a couple of days – lead us to visit areas we never would have stopped at. We do not plan to get off the road out of RVing until we can no longer handle the physical needs.

Ed D.
5 months ago

We have been Rving for approx 5 years now. We have a 34′ 2016 Class C and absolutely love it. We have not had any major problems with it in the 3-1/2 Years we have owned it. Other than a Circuit Board for the Hot Water Tank. We have never had any problems finding places to stay wherever we go. That includes the Florida Keys. We have been from Florida to New York and never had a problem finding places to stay.
As far as getting repairs done, we have a Technician that used to come right to our home and fix whatever we needed done on our RV’s. He now has opened his own shop locally and whenever we need anything done, he does it in a hurry for us. It is all about finding someone with “warranty Work” capabilities and certifications. If you are going to take your RV to a Camping World, or one of the Big places, you will wait until they are good and ready to fix it for you. So as far as we are concerned, Rving is still in good shape for us.

Brenda
5 months ago

We have been rethinking our continuing the RV lifestyle. We are our 6-7 months of the year and volunteer during much of that time. If it were not for the volunteering gigs and the enjoyment we get from those, we would likely step down. Just planning our trip to get to our summer destination has become a nightmare. We have never been much at boondocking except for overnight and as we get older, the lack of qualified repair shops, the vast differences in amenities and the rising prices are about to convince us that we can do this more easily using VRBOs as one-week hops while getting to know the areas we visit. We have used those extensively when we didn’t want to drag the camper, particularly for 2-3 day side trips.

Of course, we could no longer volunteer without our own rig (in most cases — we aren’t doing the dormitory thing at our age!) but we would also gain some freedom and less stress.

Keith Nichols
5 months ago

I used to travel in a Chevy van that I converted that had a homemade awning and 4 hang gliders on top. Even with the gliders, it rarely attracted attention. I could park it anywhere overnight, even in residential neighborhoods, and was never bothered. This was in the 70s & 80s.
I agree things have changed.
However, I think one could enjoy all that RVing can offer with one of the newer class B RVs. They are modest in size, easy to drive, contain most amenities you might need, and can stay at almost any park.
We have a small class A and when we travel, we focus on a particular park and make a week’s reservation. Beyond that, we find out of the way federal & state parks w/o hookups in stunning settings, and that’s what we enjoy a lot.
The class Bs that come to mind are Winnebago’s new lines, particularly the Travato. It has what you need, on a sprinter chassis (good mileage), great electrical system backed by solar.
When travelling from point A to point B, we overnight at truck stops more than anywhere else. We’ve never had a problem and the ones we choose usually have very cheap gas. We used to stay at Walmarts a lot, but I agree with the consensus that they are less comfortable these days.
My only other suggestion is to buy used — 2-4 years old. Any problems will have been fixed. Get a good inspection and consider an extended warranty for a year.

Tom
5 months ago
Reply to  Keith Nichols

We downsized from a Class C to the Travato and love the ability to go anywhere in the Travato. It is based on the Ram Promaster chassis not the Sprinter. We average between 16-18 MPG. The smaller size and lithium powered system has opened up driveway camping with our scattered friends and relatives around the US. We don’t need hookups as often and often drycamp when we can.

Mary McKenzie
5 months ago

The key for us seems to be flexibility. While I realize that many RV’ers are committed to staying only in FHU private parks, that really limits the possibilities. There are so many other options if you are willing to boondock and get off the beaten track to enjoy life in your RV. Smart phone apps and web sites offer a wide range of options and we find new and different places to stay every time we travel. If you don’t want to boondock, there are city, county, state parks as well as BLM and COE campgrounds that offer some amenities. We still enjoy RVing and will continue as long as we are able.

David Howard
6 months ago

I totally share the concern of the writer, but on balance will keep my trusty travel trailer at least for now. I would never consider full time RV living, as there are just too many things that I enjoy in my own home that no RV could reasonably replace, and the same for my wife whose “workroom” for her quilting work would have to be as big as most large RV’s themselves. But for our typical long Fall travel, anywhere from 5 to 8 weeks on the road with long stays by each of our two sons that live on the West Coast, the RV allows us to avoid the “unknown bed quality” of nightly motels, eating in restaurants constantly, and concerns over having our little dog with us on these trips. I am finding that I must make reservations in advance, even for most brief overnight stays while on the road, and that increasingly the campgrounds we end up at are primarily low cost housing areas rather than other RV travelers. The other negative, which I am grudgingly accustomed to, is to have spend a lot more hours driving than I would if I were not having to keep the speed down due to towing a camper. The extra gas cost is offset by the lower cost of even the better RV parks compared to decent motels, but the time factor is unavoidable. And while it is tolerable, it is not uncommon for me to be looking ahead for a night’s stay, using a website like RV Campground Reviews, and having to call three or even four places to find one that will guarantee me a spot for the night, whereas just a few years ago we would normally not even bother with any reservations except if going to high volume tourist areas.

But I will also admit that whenever I have thoughts of trading in our modest travel trailer, and looking at a larger Class B or small Class A, I just can’t justify the dollars in my own mind. So as long as I can keep using my paid off travel trailer I think I will continue to be an RV’er, but I won’t be surprised if I go back to motel stays in a few years. Especially as I am now approaching 80, just a couple of years away, the hassle of unhooking, setting up and re-hooking in inclement weather is getting to be another factor in my comparison to just pulling under the canopy of a nice motel and unloading a few suitcases.

Mike Sherman
6 months ago

Harvey, your comments seem to indicate you were considering the purchase of an RV. I gathered you have never owned one. So your decision not to go for it was based on the results of your homework, not personal experience. If I am correct, allow me to offer my 2 cents worth…..

The editor of RV Travel (Chuck Woodbury) is the only person I know of who advocates and educates the masses who RV. He is compassionate and extremely informative. Your concerns are valid, Chuck has done a fine job in educating you (and thousands of others). However, have you noticed something about Chuck? Dispite his honest reporting and vast knowledge, he still goes RVing.

Yes, the industry has changed. The negatives can be daunting, but if you have never done it, you might be missing out on some new joys in life. This day and age requires the RVer to be very flexible and willing to plan ahead. I started out with a 1967 12′ travel trailer. I have expanded my travels via a steady increase in the size and type of RV over the past 35 years. Today we have a 42′ 5th wheel with a large truck. I miss being able to get into smaller sites at state and federal campgrounds. We are now restricted on where we stay. But the fun of visiting new places has not diminished. We phone ahead for a space as we travel and usually have no problems. The joy still exceeds the hassle. My exposure to Chuck’s newsletter has added to the wisdom necessary to RV full time, and has taught me to be patient and flexible. I recommend you rent a rig for a month, give it a try, see if you get bit by the bug to boogie down the boulevard. You might be surprised, and you just might end up facing the challenges in exchange for the rewards. They can still be found out there.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sherman

Great points, Mike. Thanks! And here’s to many more years of rewarding “boogying down the boulevard” for you and yours! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Michael Flank
6 months ago

While I and countless other RVers can share some of the disappointment in the plight of RVing as it once was or should be I don’t feel that justifies abandoning the ship. The same argument to “give up” on any recreational pursuit could be defended. Let’s face it, our world is expanding at a record rate. Population growth is exploding and placing a strain on all things. So, whether you are looking at the RV lifestyle or any form of recreational entertainment the challenge to find “quality things” made to last will be very difficult. As far as a entertainment venue that doesn’t involve a crowd or limited space available good luck finding that. The choice is to make the most of what is available or do nothing at all.