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“Pathetic quality”: RV dealers are fed up with what manufacturers are producing

EDITOR’S NOTE: RVtravel.com is regularly invited to participate in nationwide conference calls with large RV dealers and others involved in the sales and servicing of RVs. We won’t be directly naming those on the call, nor the dealerships involved. While the situation is unusual, we feel the value of the candid comments and information that we can share with you outweighs the lack of the usual attribution. This time, you’ll just have to trust us that the quotes come from trusted, vetted sources.

If you’re in the market to buy a new RV, you might want to wait a bit. RV dealers on a recent nationwide conference call said the quality of most recreational vehicles now being produced is “pathetic.”

“It’s some of the worst stuff I’ve seen in 30 years,” said one longtime RV dealer. “It’s horrendous inside and out. But we have no recourse but to put it on the lot and try to sell it. You take what you can get, and you move on.”

The dealer said he suspects many longtime RVers are delaying purchasing a new rig, since it’s no secret – at least on social media and many blogs – that new RV owners aren’t happy with their purchases. “The lack of quality and all of the negative comments in the chat rooms have to be holding people back from moving forward with a purchase.”

The East Coast dealer said RV manufacturers are “building them as fast as they can, and there just isn’t any quality control. Manufacturers are not doing a good job of taking care of their customers. It’s gone from bad to worse.”

Will the industry topple?

One West Coast dealer echoed those thoughts. “My greatest fear now is watching the motorized RV industry get toppled,” he said. “They just don’t have the expertise to complete a motorhome in Northern Indiana anymore. Their labor force has no eye for quality and they have no way of teaching it. The industry is ripe for someone else to step in and start producing quality products, but it will likely have to be someplace other than Indiana. Right now, if the workers there get upset by something, they just walk off because it’s easy to get a job in Elkhart right now.”

He cited one manufacturer who admitted that he usually has no idea what his workforce will look like from week to week. “He said on Mondays, he never knows who is going to show up.”

A New England dealer said some manufacturers are only running their plants three to four days a week due to shortages in both parts and labor. “The quality that is coming out is just terrible,” he said. “Their ability to retain employees is bad. You can just tell that the guys on the manufacturing lines have been on the job for just a week. Plants don’t have the proper staffing, and they can’t do the service after the sale.”

Even newbies notice the poor quality

It isn’t just dealers who have noticed the drop in quality. “I had one newbie who purchased what they thought was the Taj Mahal of RVs,” said one dealer. “They take their first trip with it, and they come back in with 40 different problems with it. Then, I get to tell them they have to wait weeks or even months to get it fixed because nobody can get the parts.”

All of this angst on the part of dealers comes at a time when manufacturers are celebrating their success in producing record numbers of units.

The industry is projecting it will produce nearly 580,000 rigs by the end of 2021, and set a new record in 2022 with more than 600,000 new factory shipments.

“Continued robust demand for RVs, the need for RV dealers to restock historically low inventories, the strong financial standing of consumers, and sustained interest in the outdoors will work to keep RV shipments elevated,” said the RV Industry Association in a recent press release.

“Faced with many of the same kinds of supply chain and labor issues plaguing most industries over the past year, the RV industry has overcome these challenges and produced a record number of RVs month after month,” said Jeff Rutherford, President & CEO of Airxcel and RV Industry Association Chairman.

Read also: RV dealers say steady price increases from manufacturers make it difficult to lock in final costs for buyers

COMING NEXT SUNDAY: Roadside assistance companies stretched thin by huge growth in RVers and lack of available service centers

##RVT1017b

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Jeff vining
14 days ago

What I wanna know is why is it so difficult to find repair parts for rvs, parts manufacturers only want to sell wholesale parts to dealers where they effectively r**e the customers, tasty you try to buy parts to properly repair it yourself. Right now I’m trying to source the 1/4” wht luan plywood for the ceiling of my 5th wheel, due to a cheap a** junk roof that I need to also replace, otherwise this thing is literally falling down around me.. one thing about rv’s is from the moment you purchase it, it immediately starts going down hill, if you don’t have a cover to put it under refrain from buying one until you do.

BillyBogey
30 days ago

Quality is Job 1!! Right from Consumer to Mfr. Dealers are 1st. point of contact as most Consumers go with RV Dealers 1st.
RV Dealers looking after your House is Job 1. & looking in the Mirror is Job 1!!
Personally, thru some pain, have found my Mfr. to be straight up & credible & RV Dealer not so!!
Will Buy from Mfr. again. RV Dealer No!!

Ken Cramer
1 month ago

We bought a new Thor Delano on a MB Sprinter chassis. That was Aug it’s now Dec and we’re still waiting for parts and repairs to be able to take it on our first road trip. Sloppy work, pieces falling apart or not fitting. Seals that don’t seal etc gave the dealer a list of 25 items needing to be addressed. They only have time for ten. I have written both the manufacture Thor and Camping World where we purchased the unit. Many apologies but we’re still not on the road. Buyer beware … someday we’ll be up and running.

David Lastoria
1 month ago

Exactly why I am building my own trailer. Properly built, wired, plumbed, insulated…What I have seen new on lots is absolute garbage! Overpriced Junk! Unacceptable fit and finish, if any. I feel for the people who put their faith in the dealers and manufacturers, as they purchase their lifelong dream that should generate many family memories, but instead, create trouble, disappointment and unsolicited stress. I truly feel for these good people, and class action lawsuits should be created, holding the manufacturers liable.

Rick
2 months ago

We have a 1999 Holiday Rambler 36 ft. fifth wheel. This was built in the era when quality came first. Have had it for 7 years and have had no major issues. Had a board replaced on the water heater and I replaced the toilet ring two weeks ago. Roof has never leaked and slides work as they should. No other problems. Been well satisfied with our purchase. Only drawback is that it is around 12000 lbs. empty. We pull it with a dually and have no problems. Good luck finding a good camper with no problems if you are purchasing a new one.

William
3 months ago

Buy used. 1999 Bounder and only had one problem other than regular maintence and repairs after 22 years and that was the ignitor gap on the heater.

Mike
3 months ago

I purchased a trailer from a leading mfg this year and because of what I do for a living, was able to visit the plant with my partner. What we saw blew our minds. Both of us have experience with mfg plants and this was unlike anything we had ever witnessed before. Utter chaos, no formal assembly line. This translated into a horrible build. So many things have gone wrong in the past 6 months of owning the trailer. We continue to see sawdust. They never vacuumed the unit out. They didn’t even use finished wood, bare starboard was used everywhere. It is deplorable. I cannot believe that a law firm has not begun a class-action lawsuit. For what these people are charging, it’s unacceptable!

Mark
3 months ago

This is why I built my own. 4 years on and not a single problem. I know that not everyone has the ability to do so, but there is a huge community of people restoring older RVs or building them from scratch. One problem is that people are wanting bigger and bigger units with more and more features. The more parts the more likelihood of a failure. When you start adding fireplaces, island kitchens, fancy lighting, five and six slides, outdoor kitchens and complex entertainment systems, coupled with inexperienced labor this is what you get. These palaces on wheels are destined for more breakdowns regardless of quality.

Jeremy Brann
3 months ago

This is why we bought a Leisure Travel Van in the first place. Looking at Thor, Forest river, and the 782 sub-brands between them, we consistently found they were junk. You could see fit and finish issues in the brand new show models, and that was two years ago before pandemic labor and parts issues. Staples, glue, and stickers is no way to build a product.

I see some people asking “what can we do?” Nothing. The American consumer shops on price, period. It’s why airlines suck, it’s why Wal-Mart and Amazon sell warehouses full of cheap junk from China, and it’s why most RV makers can get away with junk. We complain about quality and service, but we shop on price.

My LTV isn’t perfect, it’s had a couple parts break (awning motor, door latch) but nothing major. It’s never left us stranded. It’s rock solid, and two years after we bought it we’ve absolutely loved it. It is worth MORE than we paid for it, so we will be upgrading. My biggest worry is what brand to buy that isn’t junk.

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Brann

As we can all see, the “Free Market” that we’ve been assured will fix everything, doesn’t. Why? 1) We don’t have a truly free market system – never have and never will. 2) people keep buying stuff they know is garbage instead of drawing a line in the sand because of their addiction to owning more “stuff”, which is what The Joneses are doing. In short, we’re ignorant and have no discipline as a society. We bought a high quality used bus and built our own RV. I have seen too many Binnewago-class RVs explode into tiny fragments on the highways just from tipping over.

Robert Reeve
3 months ago

I purchased a RPod 202. Took almost 8 months to get it. I finally received it and it has yet to be camping. The units front window has a very large leak. So once it was able to be seen by the dealer they found that water finds it’s way into the internals of the wall when you cut the hole bigger then the window. Now that the 2 month old units front cap was finally approved to be removed and rebuilt the have discovered black mold. Every screw and staple is rusted. I live in Colorado so this is hard to do in my climate. When I call Tina from forest river RPod warranty division I get the run around because the dealer is asking for to many hours. The rv has not been camping yet. My rv is in pieces and I have no idea what to do. They don’t care.

Bruce
3 months ago

Maybe it’s time to start some advocacy type groups and start “camping” out at RV shows with booths pointing out what interested buyers are getting into and what to expect.

Same with dealers, I won’t buy a roll of toilet paper from Camping World. For the life of me I don’t see how they continue to grow.

At some of the big rallies invite CEO’s to speak and push them to explain why they can’t build a quality product. Of course they probably would not show and give the corporate speak on how great they are.

Stacy Huffman
3 months ago

In all honesty, what can we as consumers do about this? I bought a 2021 Forest River Cherokee Destination and it has more issues than a divorced couple. It’s been 5 months and the parts to fix the dozens of issues still aren’t all in and our campground closes in 4 weeks. With all these issues, is this grounds for class action law suits? I know numerous people having issues with their poorly put together campers.

Tom g
3 months ago
Reply to  Stacy Huffman

What can consumers do?? Easy don’t buy the junk rvs . They keep building junk yet stupid people keep buying it for some reason.
Some people even order and buy them site unseen why in gods name would you do that?

Edward
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom g

You said it Jack. Stupid people reading reviews and expecting different results. I would have been an rv dealerships best customer. But it’s you people expressing your complaints that has pushed me out of the rv market. It a shame but I am not a glutton for punishment.

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  Stacy Huffman

You have two fundamental choices, and you have the fine option of employing both at the same time.
1) do NOT buy garbage.
2) build your own RV in a used coach

Rick
2 months ago
Reply to  Stacy Huffman

A friend of mine bought a Thor coach 2 years ago and has had nothing but problems. These things are built cheap and rushed through production. He had his at the dealership several times for issues. It finally went back to the company where it was built. He threatened them with a lawsuit and still has problems. He rents his out and it is on the road a lot. The dealership told him it was not meant to be used that much. What??? That is why he bought it. He had floors replaced, cabinets redone, insulation was falling out from between the walls in his driveway. For $80,000 you would expect better.

Austin
3 months ago

7 years back we bought a 2013 Mesa Ridge Open Range, 35 ft, 3 slides.
Thankfully we have had NONE of the heart breaking issues more recent models have gifted their owners.
Perhaps I should sell but again, we trust this rig and am so thankful that back then quality was not a by word it was instead the intent and subject of every conversation.

Robert Lee
3 months ago

I bought a new 2021 Grand Design Imagine 22mle in October 2020. Major water leak discovered in April 2021. Too many other issues to list. My RV has been at a local dealership since August 2021. My contact at Grand Design has express zero empathy. I have owned several RV’s with little or no issues. This purchase was a bad decision.

Maria Jones Church
3 months ago

I purchased a 2021 Forest River 5th wheel after selling my 2016 Keystone TT. I had zero issues with the Keystone, the Forrest River has been a nightmare. I have repeatedly contacted Forrest River and no 1 will call/email me back. Most issues are just cheap/poor workmanship and poor quality materials. I’m sick about how much I spent for the garbage I received.

Daycruiser
3 months ago

Why are you calling Forest River? They didn’t build the RV, one of their divisions did so call that division, each has an executive team you can call.

Lana Coan
3 months ago
Reply to  Daycruiser

How to obtain one of the divisions? Thank you for all your help in this Situation🎃

Wanderluster
3 months ago

This is the very reason I recently bought a used 5th wheel built in 2012. Took it on the road for 6 months straight with very few and only minor issues. My advice, buy used prior to 2018. Use a certified inspector. All the warranty work is already shaken out and if it was well taken care of, your inspector will know. I will not buy any durable good made in the last 18 months. Between supply chain issues and labor, manufacturers in most countries were not ready, but still had to “make their numbers”. This article shows the result.

Dallas More
3 months ago

Thats why I’ve been looking at Australian manufacturers like “Black Series”.

Mike
3 months ago
Reply to  Dallas More

Agreed. The Aussies seem to be building some awesome units and that “Black Series” looks amazing.

Ragnar
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Some of the Australian trailers are manufactured in mainland China and from what I’ve read they seem to be okay. I’m not saying it is good or bad. I’m interested in a Chinese RV , it can’t be any worse than what is coming out of northern Indiana. I’d only buy it if I could test everything first but one has to go to China first. My friend bought a Chinese motorcycle from a distributor in Texas and has been quite happy with it after he replaced the wheels and tires (too wobbly). I guess I’ll hold onto my ‘04 Starcraft Travel Star travel trailer for a little while.

Jay kraft
3 months ago

The trash I was sold.,from Capitol TV Il.minot.nr

Jay kraft
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay kraft

Capitol TV.minot.nd.trash.no.warranty

Hernando
3 months ago
Reply to  Jay kraft

I think you had a stroke, Jay.

Carson
3 months ago

I suspect that a comparison of the quality of US-made RVs versus Euro-made ones could be enlightening, as generally US businesses seem to be traditionally focused on maximizing profit while European businesses seem to be traditionally more focused on preserving company or family business reputation. This conforms with the way American values focus more on material success while European values focus more on living “well”. As the saying goes, “Americans live to work, and Europeans work to live.” This might have something to do with the way European culture is rooted in the feudal patronage system, where patrons and later the populace patronized reputable businesses, while the American culture values independence, individualism, and efficient markets more…?

And I think much of this quality problem can be laid right at the feet of the American consumer who has been taught the WalMart Ethic of equating the cheapest price with the best value. “You get what you pay for…”

Last edited 3 months ago by Carson
Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
3 months ago
Reply to  Carson

That’s very insightful (and kinda sad), Carson. My last half of the quote is: “And you don’t get what you don’t pay for.” Have a good evening. 🙂 –Diane

Nutz
3 months ago
Reply to  Carson

Yes, blame the fat lazy American and our capitalistic ways. It’s the easy thing to do. I don’t know where you come from maybe somewhere In Europe but, me I live In the greatest country In the world the USA. We do have our problems and where not perfect but, we do work hard as, I do to afford nice things. I expect quality when I spend a certain amount of money. I do shop at Walmart but not for a diamond ring. The problem lies In the manufacturers. If you incentivize and show a little loyalty to your workers It would go a long way. The workers see the executive driving up in there new Benz or BMW. They then say here I am working my a*s off while he gets big fat raises and bonuses. If they did the same for the worker whom are the backbone of any company they wouldn’t have this problem.

Dallas More
3 months ago
Reply to  Nutz

We build mostly crap here and its getting worse. Example: BMW or Lexus/Toyota vs Any American car maker, lift the hood and look at the fluid reservoir caps, BMW, Toyota etc… Will have indicators and the caps snap exactly into place, not on American cars! Look at transmissions, Europeans and Japanese uze high grade stainless steel ball bearings, American car makers use bushings, and of lower grade steel.

Hernando
3 months ago
Reply to  Nutz

I enjoy how you responded to a well thought out comment with stereotypically American incoherent, reactive drivel, completely missing the point. It sounds like he hit a nerve.

wanderer
3 months ago
Reply to  Hernando

Yes, he hit a nerve. But I don’t blame him lashing out, and ‘the point’ is questionable. Americans have been underpaid for 40 years as all the profits shoot to the top, then we get dissed for being buying the cheapest thing we can find in search of affordable vacations. Clearly for the fortunate and the trust-fund babies the answer is to pay for premium products. But for many of us that’s not an option. We don’t deserve slapped together junk with no quality control just because we don’t ‘pay up’. p.s. the luxury brands are also putting out junk.

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  wanderer

Americans have been underpaid compared to… whom? We fought hard for worker’s rights in the 20s, then volunteered to throw all of that away for empty promises in the 80s. Now we have what we bought into.

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  Nutz

“blame the fat lazy American and our capitalistic ways. It’s the easy thing to do.”

No, blame ourselves for buying garbage just for being able to say we bought *something*. Do you really think any country that thinks it’s the “greatest country in the world no matter what it does” is going to be making high quality anything? We’ve been convinced that working for a buck is a better idea than working for high quality and our own pride in our workmanship. Our workmanship WAS legendary, now it’s just legend.

Cooter
2 months ago
Reply to  Nutz

I agree I work in RVs and my pride dictates I try my best to not build junk to send down the line… I do receive a modest paycheck but it stops there! The company don’t match anything for my 401k boo yearly or even attendance bonuses hell it’s the first place I’ve ever worked that don’t give you a turkey or ham for your holiday… Nothing! 30 units a day 5 days a week is gruelling labor! I believe reduction of units without reduction of pay and occasional now gestures to let you workers know there appreciated would do more than they could realize!

Patagonia Pete
3 months ago
Reply to  Carson

Too many da*n illegals in our workforce here in the U.S.
Many of these people have no pride in their work.

Private Idaho
3 months ago
Reply to  Patagonia Pete

I doubt there are many illegal immigrants in Elkhart

Cooter
2 months ago
Reply to  Private Idaho

Lol obviously you’ve never been here we call Elkhart and surrounding areas little Mexico for a reason!

Scott
3 months ago
Reply to  Patagonia Pete

No, the problem started with Trump kicked out the international workforce with ICE. Before 2018 when they were here, it all was fine. Mexican workers have a great work ethic when you treat and pay them well.

Daycruiser
3 months ago
Reply to  Scott

So the quality issues with American made products just started in 2016? I’ve been in the RV industry for almost 50 years, I can tell you the junk started coming out of IN long before 2016. As far as other American produced products, the cost of producing a “competitive” product in the US is far greater due to the cost of labor and related expenses which makes companies look for other ways to cut costs or just simply move manufacturing to countries where child labor is legal. I personally hate China and everything it stands for but I understand why much of US manufacturing was moved there. Just suppose a magic wand was waived and all products sold in the US were made by American hands, how much do you think that product would cost given the salaries or wages that are demanded by American workers, think UAW…. now apply that to everything made in the US. Your Referiderator made with all American made components inside would cost $4500 instead of $2500 now. Your favorite camera would be about triple in cost. The US worker did it to themselves, demand higher salary, better benefits, etc so companies to stay competitive moved off shore in many ways to lower their costs. Do the Executives get rich, yes absolutely, they’re the ones who Wall Street rewards for making money for the stock holders. Stocks don’t do well when the company looses money year over year. I’ll bet you have stocks, don’t you, and you like those dividends don’t you!

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  Daycruiser

” I personally hate China and everything it stands for” Wonderful. You’re great for our image. China is a billion individuals with about 30 different ethnicities and you think “China” stands for something you even understand? You don’t. China makes great products when you send them good design, or pay them for good design, and follow-up with appropriate and adequate QC. Every country in the world gets Chinese-made products and are able to slap a Benz or Versaci label on it no problem.

Randy Willmott
1 month ago
Reply to  Scott

I agree. Hispanic workers are very hard- working! But…if they’re here illegally, they can’t work here.

john
3 months ago
Reply to  Patagonia Pete

Yes to the 1st part of that statement and a lol no to the conclusion of youre posting . The big manufactures all have super cheap and super light weight standards. The lightest material that is popular in manufacturing is gonna be “MDF”. This is particle board crap. The moment it gets moist,wet, or endures a lateral pressure its gonna fold. Zero rigidity. So how can we expect this to make it passed the 10 year mark ? Well cause the majority is purposely ignoring its structure and focus on outer shell looks or how cool they can park all there buddy’s and them into a giant circle. U se the population thats worried about there white pikit fence and leading the joneses into the coolaid. Have literally zero care whats inside the walls as long as there nit having to do any work. Otherwise ther plans are to trade it in 2 yrs later anyways. So. Yes way to many illegal sunsbitches here but the issue has zero to do with them its us or our sheeple neighbor or …. the auto industry is same way as is many many things … sad but true. But

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  john

I call MDF “cereal box tops”.

Ford
3 months ago
Reply to  Patagonia Pete

AM radio right here. I’ve worked for 50 years here, and have never once seen an “illegal”. The people who had no pride (or humility) are the Americans who benefit from illegals doing the grunt work AND complain about it.

Zonie
3 months ago

This is really sad. I had a Skyline Nomad. Skyline was purchased by Evergreen which then exited the business. I really regret selling that trailer. It was a 24ft 2010 model 2020B and I had added a generator, solar, rear toy hatch, leather couch, etc. I replaced it with a 1996 Safari Sahara Diesel Motorhome, that is probably the best built coach ever made. No particle board anywhere. It is just too large for our needs now, and maybe with any luck, I can get my Nomad back as My sister now owns it and wants a toy hauler… Fingers crossed. New products are total junk. Also, don’t worry about the dealers, They are all marking them up over list due to covid and making bank. They will be just fine and are happy to push this stuff on the market.