Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Letters to the editor: Poor quality RVs


Hello Chuck,

letters to the editor

I wrote to you a couple of weeks ago about how my wife and I are considering either stopping our RV trips or downsizing from our fifth wheel to a smaller travel trailer. Finding a quality campsite has become a problem, and we are all faced with challenges due to small and undesirable sites we are often required to use.

Last week we went to an RV dealership in northern Arkansas and looked at 30 to 40 units, and I have never seen such an awful manufacturing mess in my life. We started with travel trailers, where the poor quality was unbelievable. Nearly all lack gel coat and the finish was so thin the fiberglass fibers can easily be seen. The finish is dull and appears it would last only a short time. All of the interior wood products look like they were cut out with a skill saw (none had router edges), sanded and then appeared to be finished with a paintbrush with an ugly black material.

Some manufacturers are now offering self-levelers, and they are nothing more than electric screw jacks and not hydraulic so they are also cheap and their life will be limited. The frames, axles, wheel bearings and tires are also the least expensive available and in my opinion dangerous. The showers are also a terrible mess because all had thin fiberglass panels covering the walls which were held on with plastic pop rivets instead of a unit being installed. In my opinion, these units will have a very short life and owners will either sell them for a fraction of what they owe or the bank will repossess them. When that happens, most of this junk will be purchased for basically nothing by a new owner and will end up parked in our campgrounds as full-time residents.

After travel trailers, we looked at fifth wheels with brand names like Montana, Big Horn, Big Country, Solitude and others and to our surprise, we saw the same issues with them as the travel trailers. The only exceptions were some had hydraulic levelers and what appeared to be a good gel coat. However, we only saw one trailer with disc brakes, and in my opinion, all of the heavier campers need them.

WE ALSO FOUND ONLY ONE UNIT with a power windup power cord. Based on what we saw there are no quality units being manufactured and everyone buying this junk will soon be in trouble. It amazed us to see how many families with young children are shopping for these cheap RVs and little do they know what lies ahead. I can’t imagine how many old units are being traded in for the new rigs that have plenty of glitter but no substance.

Based on our analysis so far we are much better keeping our 2011 HitchHiker, which we had made to our specs. Keeping a larger RV was not what we preferred but based on the junk we’re finding it makes sense.

We have a couple more trips to RV dealers before we make our final decision, but I believe we see the handwriting on the wall – which is to stay away from new units. In reality, it probably does not matter much because of problems with the huge numbers of RVs being sold. It has already become nearly impossible to travel during the peak summer vacation. The effort will soon outweigh the benefits of RV travel. The only “happy campers” will be the junk manufacturers who will laugh all the way to the bank.

Ken C.

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Jason Laber
5 years ago

My wife and I are so upset and dissatisfied with the quality of our 2017 Thor Miramar 34.3 RV that we hired an attorney, revoked acceptance and are now fighting for our RVing life back……

We even resorted to buying our own website because biased forums were beginning to bully us. See our story at

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

We just got back from a five week trip taking in the OR and WA coasts, then east to eastern WA and ID. Then back home to northern NV. Get this! Not one problem this time. Everything worked as it’s supposed to. First time EVER! Ha.

As an aside, I waited until we were actually coming down our street with our house in sight before I looked over at wifey and exclaimed “Wow, the whole trip with no problems”.

Our trailer is a 2012 (built mid 2011 as it turns out) and our tow vehicle is a 1997.

RV Staff(@rvstaff)
5 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Woo hoo! Congrats, Tommy! (I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to jinx it. Kinda like many years ago when my son would borrow my car and I’d say, “Now, don’t get a speeding ticket!” So, he’d get one and then blame me! More than once! 😯 But he’s older/wiser now.) 😀 —Diane at

Robert Barr
5 years ago

Buyers must take some responsibility for the current state of quality. As someone posted “if you want better quality Pay Up”. The manufactures are filling the needs of the line of buyers waiting for their poor quality builds. When the line up deminishes they will either go out of business or improve to meet demand.

Gene Bjerke
5 years ago

I own a 2010 Roadtrek (built in Canada). I occasionally read about the new models — higher tech, but also higher prices. Between that and all the comments about bad quality (though Roadtrek has not been mentioned) I have come to the conclusion to stick with what I have. It has given me seven years (so far) of good service, for the most part, and has been customized to match our travel style. If it’s good, keep it.

Lou Finkle
5 years ago

After 10 years full-timing and interviewing many others, I began running seminars at Samborees, PassPort America, SMART RV Veterans, and other national groups. Much of what has been said by Chuck Woodbury, the Kievers and others is, sadly, true. As to manufacturers, the Tiffin company (Alabama) had the best reputation for quality and I bought a new 37 foot Class A. Each year I went to the factory for minor tweaking, nearly all repairs cost less than $150 total each visit. However, as much as I had a high quality coach … it is much too large for parking at State and National Parks. In looking at smaller 24-27 foot models (Tiffin does not make them that small), I have found nothing that compares in quality! As mentioned by others here, quality has certainly been neglected. Visits to RV dealers have not yielded a good quality, small coach! The best I can hope for is finding someone who has a great quality small coach that was well maintained … that wants to move to a larger coach.

5 years ago
Reply to  Lou Finkle

I’ve heard that Leisure Travel Vans makes high quality units in the size that you are looking for. Anyone had issues with this manufacturer?

Tom and Deb Colligan
5 years ago

We’re newbies to the rv experience and have been increasingly disenchanted with the lack of quality in workmanship. Not to mention the constant battles between the dealer and the manufacturer. We purchased a new 2017 Jayco Alante’ in April. To date, the coach is having front end problems that for some reason can’t be identified or repaired. The tires have been balanced, replaced, and indexed, the front end was aligned and inspected for other problems. The shimmying is still there. Maybe it’s a drive train issue we’ve been told. What?? There is a lemon law in place in Florida if the rv was purchased in Florida. The most recent list of warranty issues hovered around ten items. Now a new list is being compiled because the coach is having electrical issues too. The manufacturer, oh by the way, wasn’t going to cover the diagnostic test that was required to determine the electrical issues. We’re not. The automatic steps won’t come down. The brand new battery had to be replaced because three of the cells were bad. WHAT? The radio had to be replaced because it stopped working while we were on our maiden voyage. The list is endless. All warranty work items. Buyer beware. This is your money your spending. The CEO’s of these companies obviously don’t care, but it would be more cost effective for the manufacturer to hire quality control specialists before it leaves the factory. That’s a no brainer. $$$

5 years ago

I was so disgusted by the poor materials and workmanship of RVs at a show in DFW that I decided to build my own Class B. Doing it on a high top Promasster platform.

Making slow progress but completely happy with each step,.

5 years ago

Don’t buy new unless you choose a quality manufacturer. Lazy Daze class C, Air Stream bumper pull are 2 of them.

Better to buy a real high end pre-owned with full maintenance records.

5 years ago

After reading all the comments, editorials, and hearing stories from others, I ‘d like to add my 2 cents about what I have discovered in my fulltime travels for the past 3.5 years with my travel trailer. Yes, so many units are shoddily built, and I knew that going in. I fixed many things myself to avoid the hassle of warranty and a dealer. That said, I have had a couple of things (refrigerator, elect. stabilizer jacks) go bad, and because of the cost, have tried to get them fixed under warranty. Here is what I have encountered.
After the purchase of my most recent unit, I hit the road and thus was far from the dealer where I purchased. Along the way, I contacted numerous dealers about getting these items fixed. Nearly all told me that if I didn’t buy from them, they would not do warranty work. (I later learned that the mfgs. pay them so little for repairs it’s not worth their time) Some dealers agreed to work on it, but only if I left it with them “and they would get to it as soon as possible”. I did find one dealer who offered mobile service, and swore they could do the repair in the month I was in the area, then completely failed to keep that promise. I found two independent mobile services who seemed interested in working on it; both dropped the ball. One did nothing over the course of 3 months, the other, nothing over the course of 4 months. I later learned that part of their problem is that the mfg. won’t ship items to them without payment up front. For a new fridge and stabilizers, a mobile tech would need to come up with several thousand dollars. Finally, after nine months, I found a car dealer that is also an RV dealer. Since I have their brand of truck, they agreed to do the work. My fingers are crossed. I should also add that I need some body parts to replace those damaged by a blowout; even getting that done has been a very trying experience. It’s as if no one wants my money. And then there is the lack of suitable parks, as mentioned in other articles
I hate to say it, but the RV industry is truly a sad industry. I know of no other recreation industry that suffers from so many problems. And there seems to be no progress to improve it. It’s pushed me to the point of putting my RV in storage and finding a new hobby.

Jim Stein
5 years ago

I have read and well understand the above comments and the disappointment they express. My experience, however, has been a bit different. My wife and I are retired and have a 2015 42 ft. fifth wheel that is on the higher end of the luxury scale. We have logged more than 10,000 miles in the past two years and have very few issues regarding quality. The only problems have been with components provided outside vendors, in this case LIppert Components (axle seals and electric slide motors). I made these repairs myself even though there was some warranty coverage because I am able and because, like you, I don’t much trust the dealership “technicians”. We have had no serious issues getting reservations in mostly decent campgrounds. We plan well in advance and we don’t travel much in the summer months. We thought carefully about full-timing, but even 2 or 3 years ago the trend was obvious: too many RVs and too few campgrounds.
For what it’s worth…I believe that success in the RV world means we need to educate ourselves, have realistic expectations, and plan, plan plan.

John Koenig
5 years ago

Two years ago, I was at ProCustomInc in Elkhart, IN getting the crappy “eye candy” furniture replaced with COMFORTABLE pieces. I spoke with three couples who were there to have their 10+ year old diesel pushers modernized. ALL THREE couples said they had shopped extensively for new coaches but, were disappointed by what was being produced. They had all been wiling to spend several hundred thousand dollars to buy new. They simply did NOT like what they were seeing. These folks were all in their late 60’s ~ mid 70’s; two couples were full-timers. They all realized that, the service life of their current DPs had barely been used and so, they all decided to “refresh” the interiors at ProCustomInc (who, by the way, does GREAT work). I guess as long as uneducated consumers are willing to pay good money for poorly designed and built RVs, the RV manufacturers will be more than happy to build them. I wonder which state will be the first to enact “Lemon Laws” that cover RVs?

Ron Hough
5 years ago

The RV service industry is a major disappointment. They’re usually booked solid and hire many inexperienced workers who work for minimum wages. So, while we wait for an incompetent and inexperienced repair person to fix a problem with our rig, and getting paid $10/hr. to do it, the business is collecting their $125/hr. service fee from the RV owner and the job is not getting done in a professional manner. And, how many of us have left the service shop with more RV issues than when we took it in? Very frustrating.

Rick Stephenson
5 years ago

Thought everyone would get a kick out of what I saw on the General RV Center Site. It said “Do You Fix Things? We Need RV Technicians and No Experience is Needed!” No experience? No wonder it has taken me nearly a year to get my rear view camera fixed there! Heaven help us all!

Jim Bennett
5 years ago

I feel the same way about the industry as a whole as the author of this letter does.We too sold our Hitchhiker fifth wheel,and unfortunately bought a new rig from a con artist dealer who was only interested in a fast buck. This seems to be a huge problem in America anymore as more and more “suckers” are hooked on this new,cheap built junk unwittingly. I pity many as they are in for a rough road unless they can fix many of the problems that will pop up.It is too bad the RV industry has stooped this low,but I suppose it’s a sign of the times.Also to add…the good RV parks are scarce anymore and many of the nations highways are just plain wore out,so people…if you must…buy a unit with good suspension and the best tires you can afford…and watch out for the idiots that permeate the roads anymore.

Terry Duffy
5 years ago

I had a 2009 Thor Four Winds Sprinter. Two slide motors failed under warranty. A year and a half after purchase the third motor failed. Dealer pulled slide and found that a seat belt bolt came off and landed in the slide track. Thor agreed to pay for half of the $1,400 repair. They should have been fined by the government for a safety violation. This was only one of the many things wrong with this RV.

Two years ago thought I would try a different company. Bought a 2016 Winnebago View. Driving the RV home there was a banging noise coming from the slide. This was one of 30 items wrong. Dealer said it was normal. Drove it for 8,000 because I could not find a dealer that would work on it. Took it to the factory. It was fine for 2,000 miles and started again. Just had it at General RV this summer. It seems to be OK now but who knows what the future will bring. I’m surprised you said 20 to 40 percent of RVs are quality controlled. The RV industry has no quality controlled

Jay French
5 years ago

Happy to know I am not alone. Decided prior to retirement that we wanted to camp in luxury 1 week per month. Bought a new Georgetown which was inexpensive but took up semi-permanent residence in the repair shop plus was falling apart internally in its 1st year. Sold at a large loss.
Decided possibly to become a FullTimer traveling the country so upgraded to an Entegra which was gorgeous. Loved the warranty which took care of the “Bugs” in manufacturing but after making a few extended trips – discovered while we could easily Full Time as far as camping – fighting for campground space really sucked. What is seldom mentioned is without months prior reservations, the most desirable campgrounds are booked especially weekends & summer months.
Ending the Full Timer dream, sold the Entegra & purchased a 32′ Jayco bumper pull with 2 slides. We now have returned to our camping roots staying in mainly National or State Parks mostly closer to home in Louisiana averaging 1 week a month but seldom between June 1st & August 15th which is school vacation & very little available.
What we have noticed is the new campgrounds are all “resort” types featuring “water”. Pools, swim up bars, restaurants & numerous amenities all built to attract a younger crowd with kids. Over-flow crowded, packed cramped zero space together like sardines these are merely mobile hotel rooms on wheels & “Camping” is not part of the equation let alone appreciation of nature.
If you see us now it is in Louisiana at a forrest type area. We are the mid-60’s couple with a Toyota Tundra 4×4 pulling a 32′ Jayco & riding bicycles, barbecuing plus have a bonfire going every evening sitting out drinking a few cold beers.

Sharon Larrison
5 years ago

I am horrified and disgusted by the quality of my brand new nearly $100,000 RV and even more furious at the RV Dealer’s attempts to fix. Each ‘repair’ takes about two months. The refrig/freezer went out most recently, at the beginning of a two week trip w 4 grandkids at the end of June. $400 worth of food gone; two weeks living out of a cooler AND THEN 2.5 months to replace — no more RVing during the remainder of the summer! Excuses such as ‘it took 3 weeks to get the part number..” Do they think we are fools? RV going up for sale. We are going back to boating where we can always find a beautiful place to drop the anchor & quality of and speed of repair great.

wayne whelan
5 years ago

you would not beleive me about my Lance 1172 2013. Total junk. Even sent pics to ceo. Nothing.

Robb Stuart Fl
5 years ago

Not that I want to buy foreign but maybe if RV’s started coming from Japan, maybe that would raise the
bar as it did for autos.

Linda Nelson
5 years ago

Our issue with owning a well built, but older Bounder is that many RV parks have a strict policy to not allow rigs older than 10yrs to stay at the park. We offer to send pictures as our RV is in good condition but have been given a firm No.

Lori Singels
5 years ago
Reply to  Linda Nelson

I have a 2005 Itasca Cambria that I keep in perfect condition — since that’s the way I received it. I’ve never had any quality problems with its manufacture (I’d like to make a few design changes, but that’s just style). I’m always tempted to get a newer MH but, after reading all the horror stories re sloppy manufacture, have decided to keep mine. I don’t much care for the kind of parks who would turn away a well-kept older RV anyway.

Darren Camp
3 years ago
Reply to  Lori Singels

I also have an older Itasca. Real old. 2002 Suncruiser 35u. Have been shopping for newer but just cannot spend the inflated prices. The old 35u on Workhorse big block Chevy just performs. It always delivers. Even the basement air is awesome. Fiberglass roof still solid. No delamination. HWH hydraulics still work as new. Now i admit I am a self maintenance guy for most everything and I do It right. My point is all units need ongoing attention. Little things happen. But I still think the old 35u at 17 years old will go anywhere I desire and after some inexpensive loving quarter upgrades the two slide floor plan is very comfortable. For now and until I see real value I stick with the 35u

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