By Nanci Dixon
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about RV dealers running out of RVs and service centers being jammed. There were a lot of comments. I was surprised at how many people were waiting for RV parts. Because of a shortage of those parts, either their RV was sitting in the service bay waiting for a part or they were waiting to get their RV into a service bay if the needed part came in.
One of those comments was left by Art B., who wrote, “I have been four months waiting for small parts for our Jayco, owned it for three months, three days. This is crazy!”
Ann noted, “Real world experience. Stopped at my RV dealer for a $3 part that I needed. The dealer stated that the COVID has crippled the supply of parts. Only three RVs available for sale. Many units on the lots waiting for parts. Had to settle for an alternative part.”
I decided to talk with several more dealers, service centers and store managers.
RV stores are running out of RV accessories
One RV store manager said that every morning when he comes in, it looks like they have been robbed! Newbies are literally buying up everything and emptying out the shelves. So many people are buying RVs this summer that there is a veritable run on RV stuff too, including RV toilet paper!
Our sewer hose sprung a leak (not pleasant) and I called several places before I could find one. Once I did, it was shorter than I wanted and not the brand I was looking for. One woman at an RV dealer’s store told me that she only had two hoses left and “when they are gone, they are gone.” She just can’t get any more. I had searched on Amazon before calling around and found the one I wanted. The first delivery option was the middle of October. A leaky sewer hose is an immediate issue so I paid an exorbitant price and hoped it was long enough.
RV service centers can’t get parts
One service manager said they just can’t get toilets, refrigerators, water hoses, water regulators or even water filters. He said that companies building RVs have first call on the parts going into the RVs. For service centers the product then trickles in after the manufacturers are supplied or don’t come in at all. While imports are a problem, most of the items he was waiting for were made in the U.S. Manufacturing plants that had shut down for several weeks are doing catch-up. One part manufacturer’s employees tested positive for COVID, and the lines were shut down until everyone was cleared.
Mark Gorrie from RVForce in Pensacola, Florida, explains, “Rumor is that the parts that are delayed are coming from China as most of the problem, and the rest of the problem is the manufacturers are still trying to catch up from their shutdown.”
RV service bays are full and RV sales lots are empty
And the service bays? Full! One dealer said that their service bays are so busy because all the new RVs they sold need prep before delivery. He pointed to a calendar that showed every single day in July checked off with RVs that were sold and waiting to get into prep. That may take precedence over repairs. The sales manager then said that they just can’t get any more inventory this year.
The general manager at a different dealer said that 90% of all the sales are now new customers – customers that have not even been RVing before. Their usual clientele are return customers or experienced RVers. Their interior showroom was almost empty. A sales person said they were ordering units but delivery might be sometime in December. December in Minnesota…not good.
Lyn posted, “I checked with a local dealer that takes consignments, but he said the high-end units are not what’s selling right now. Folks are buying the units that are under or around $20,000, and they’re gone within hours of arriving on the lot.”
Diane has been disappointed with the number of RVs available, “We’ve been preparing to go full-time for a year-and-a-half. We’ve done our research, we knew what we were looking for. This time last year we would have had no problem finding what we wanted but inventory is so low in southern California there isn’t a rig of the make/model within 200 miles of where we live. We went to about seven different lots that are usually full with between 150 to 300 rigs and found that they each had, at most, 10 RVs on site. I can’t speak for other areas of the country, but southern California has been cleared out.”
The couple next to us this week in a brand-new truck camper said that their parents had gone to RV lots early in the morning, looked over the fence at what there was and before they got back to tour them the units would be sold. Keith just ordered a new trailer, delivery date May 10th, but only if he ordered that day.
It is an RV buying frenzy! Makes me wonder where all those RVs will go when the pandemic ends and people decide to take planes and cruises, and book hotel rooms again.