Sunday, September 19, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021

“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. A condition of our involvement in these conference calls is that no individual is specifically named in follow-up reports. 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

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DOUG WELCH
10 hours ago

I have seen how the RV industry manufacturers it’s product and it reminds me of the auto industry of 40 years ago. At that time a company from Japan introduced the Toyota Manufacturing system and turned the industry on its ear. Today we call the Toyota system LEAN and any manufacturing company that hasn’t seriously adopted the complete system is a company looking to go out of business.

If the industry had really and seriously adopted LEAN in every aspect of production, these quality issues would have been gone years ago. I have been in the plant of the company that produces U-Haul and other motorized units. They don’t need skilled labor, the system trains the employees and anyone can come up to speed quickly. They build quality into the product, not inspect it in after the unit is built.

When I saw an RV trailer manufacturer trying to inspect the quality in at the end of the process, I knew this would come to bite them in the butt. And it has.

Don
19 hours ago

Just like what happen to Sears. More and more RV manufacturers (and brand names) are being gobbled up by so called “investment” firms. Their interests are not concerned with building quality RVs. They’re only interest is in profits. Every time an established RV manufacturer falls into their grasp, the RV consumer loses. That also applies to the components used in RVs. It’s sad to see well know brands that stand behind their products with excellent warranties and support fall prey to these heartless investment companies that could care less about anything but their bottom line. And when that bottom line fails to meet their expectations, they are simply cast off and all support is lost making repairs impossible.

Montgomery D. Bonner
20 hours ago

All – one more point, read all posts, they show how terrible RV industry is now, and under present government we are not going to see any different, it’s only going to get worse. When not If, when crash comes, 50% of all manfacturers of RV are going to be gone. Paying more does not get you better quality, we were considering selling 2019 Ventana, but now may sell house and live in it while trying to find new place. I/Factory have everything fixed perfect, sans recall on windows. I will live with that and get fixed/inspected when time.

Todd
17 hours ago

What does the present government have anything to do with poor RV quality?

Phread
14 hours ago
Reply to  Todd

Not a thing. Just a way for MDB to get a dig in for another subject he appears to have an interest in. Too difficult for some people to keep their political persuasion out of any discussion….

Tom Horn
4 hours ago
Reply to  Todd

The don’t give a dam attitudes they have right now because of how the country is being run. It’s being run into the ground and is a reflection of workers not wanting to put out a quality product. Here today, gone tomorrow not knowing what is around the corner. Plus all of the drugs coming across (china) the border is fueling the drug use at all of the factories. Getting high at lunch and building RVs what a combination.

Montgomery D. Bonner
20 hours ago

Ken, welcome to world of RV’ing. Quality control is impossible because, none, not one assembler, is plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc. If I was you, check evey connection in circuit panel and the 12VDC distribution box. Make sure power is off, dont overtighten, but my guess is, every single one is lose. That is based on your experience stated below. If the plumbing was mess, think electrical is too. Electrical can kill you/fire?????

Montgomery D. Bonner
20 hours ago

The RV Industry is/has fighting this problem for years. At end of warranty period for 2019 Newmar, I had 38 warranty items factory had to fix. Now got window recall, PDM is still suspect but no parts. RV industry did this to themselves, by moving parts manfacturing overseas, especially China. If Honda Motor builds RV going for that one, excellent quality. OAT-If, the estimates bear fruit on units made/sold, that puts about 1.3 million more RV’s on road, first driven by people who may have never done so before, and if you think crowding is bad now, let that many more units fight for the same space we have now. Local Communities do not see RV parks as a benefit, they see them as havens for junk, albeit, Mobile Home parks of yesteryear. This is exemplified by the RV’er who has “stuff” around their rig making it look like a town lives in it. 20 Kids running amok, dogs off leash, barking making noise, and just generally a slum. That example needs to change, until it does,?????

Ken
22 hours ago

Problems with our new travel trailer from the get-go. Frig didn’t cool, no hot water on electric side, then big water leak from the hot water tank, trim pieces falling off or attached wrong. Back to the dealer for warranty fixes while we lost 2.5 months of use. Definitely jaded our experience buying our first RV. Dealer fixed the HW tank & frig but missed the trim pieces — I took care of that. However, a few weeks later I had to re-fix the leaking HW tank connection. I had to apply Teflon tape to the problematic connection, as well as the toilet water line connection (both plastic fittings started dripping). Imagine, I fixed both leaks with a 50 cent roll of Teflon tape. None of which the manufacturer used anywhere. Talk about cutting corners.
Grand Design Transcend Xplor 260RB trailer.

Laura Gutsmann
19 hours ago
Reply to  Ken

Geez, I thought GD was building good quality, are any manufacturers building anything worth anything?

Tom Horn
4 hours ago
Reply to  Laura Gutsmann

Nope, believe me I would know if they were. This is so far beyond what happened in 2009, so much worse.

Randall
1 day ago

I have a friend who spent $60k+ on a fifth wheel camper nearly three years ago. He said he’s spent more time at various dealer repair shops fixing problems, than he has traveling in it.

Ms. Heidi Still
1 day ago

Mirage poor quality and horrible customer service. wall separated, spare wheel fell off, cabinet fell off the wall, frame welds failed, ALL THREE axles failed and wheels were ready to fall off the unit

Bob Weinfurt
1 day ago

Seven years ago we bought a 1977 class C motorhome for $300. Had to fix a few things but because it’s an older, well made unit it just keeps chugging along. It’s much easier and less expensive to work on than the newer ones.
There are some nice older units out there but they are selling for big $$$ now because they’re worth it.

Jeff Hybiak
2 days ago

We bought a 2021 Tiffin Allegro Red and have not been happier. I believe it is partly the result of Tiffin’s QC, but also the dealer we brought it from (Bob Leeford in Greenville, SC) taking a week to go through it to fix any obvious issues. We’ve put 7000 miles on it since May including a 6 week, 2600 mile trip. Other than a few loose screws we’ve had essentially no issues.

Prior to this, we had a 2021 Entegra Accolade. After 2100 miles it was obvious the QC was terrible and the dealer (General RV in Ashland, VA) didn’t care to fix it. We had far too many minor and major issues with that thing. Thankfully our trade-in was just $5,000 below what we paid. Well worth the swap.

Dick Ellingson
2 days ago

Howdy! Nothing has changed, unless for the worse.

In 1998, we bought a new Fleetwood Bounder 32K from Poulsbo RV in Everett, Washington, aiming to be full-timers. I made a website to keep track of our adventures.

When I wrote about things breaking, falling apart etc., and our tries, with little success, to get them repaired, people began sharing their own frustration over Poulsbo RV’s inability or refusal to do repairs. Soon, the guestbook was almost all complaints about Poulsbo RV.

Poulsbo RV never took care of our problems, but at least I upset them enough to threaten us with two lawsuits.

Dick in Miles City

Jeff
19 hours ago
Reply to  Dick Ellingson

Great job!!! Hopefully those clowns at Poulsbo RV will take the complaints seriously and up their quality control. Probably best to avoid them all together. There has to be a dealer that still cares about their customers. Apparently, Poulsbo RV isn’t one of them.
Good luck! Hopefully you are able to do the repairs yourself and do a much better job…. Because you care.

Chad
2 days ago

There is a lot of truth in these statements. But, dealers and customers both want, want, want. You want an older RV, then go that route. I will not buy a new car because of the depreciation on it I would receive as I drive it off the lot. But, part suppliers to the RV AND the home industries are working 6 days a week, 12 hour shifts, and are not hurting for business. But, with there not being a RV employee production registration program to combat job hopping leads to personnel, in some aspects of manufacturing, having these companies by the nuts. They can demand whatever they financially want and get it because no one wants to work and they know this. This isn’t 10 years ago when there was ample employees available and you could actually fire the bad apples. HR departments discourage this practice. So the cycle begins all over again.

mooseandsquirrel
21 hours ago
Reply to  Chad

We bought a 73 class C Dodge chassis motor home (Fireball) new and it had several problems on delivery. The inside A/C evaporator water drain put water inside the vehicle. The gas line filler hose was kinked so the pump would always shut off. Took about 1/2 hour to fill tank. The wheel alignment of the chassis was never adjusted after the weight of the living space was added. All the cabinets inside were made of flimsy particle board. Electrical problems were all over with the lights not working.

If you buy an older motor home/trailer, now, most of the problems have been fixed.

Heather Warner
3 days ago

This is the reason why I’m looking at older RVs. I’d rather put the money into a remodel rather than in a new one considering the issues on top of astronomical depreciation. Older ones also tend to be easier to fix, maintain, and redo. We’ve looked at new ones and all I see is junk priced as if it is gold.

Mark Carter
3 days ago

We bought a 2021 Keystone Passport 239ml, and then took it on an 8500mi trip from Florida to California and back. I spent just about the whole trip fixing a horribly put together piece of junk. First, the sink was seemingly leaking everywhere. In fact the drain was leaking because they hadn’t removed the cardboard packing shipped with the drain. Second they tightened the hot water junction to the faucet so tight it crushed the cone washer. This of course leaked into the cabinet disintegrating the cheap press board construction.
Anyone who’s traveled on America’s roads know that 80% of them are in horrible condition. After the first week the interior panels started falling off, as they were put together with tiny staples. No match for the jostling the road was giving them. I spent the rest of the trip reattaching a cascade of failing panels.
This trailer has a Murphy bed, don’t get a trailer that has one of these. The tin foil hinges broke almost immediately. Total junk!

Renee Winterhalter
3 days ago

I bought a 2020 Dyna Max Isata 3 in early March just before Covid hit. I have had nothing but trouble with it. I received it with two flat dually tires. The door strut was broken. We think on the trip from Indiana to WA the door was caught by wind and was sprung, it never has closed right. The door would pop open at any given time because the locks didn’t work. The slider has not been right since we got it. It had a water leak in the toilet water hose. The cruise control stuck and nearly killed us on the first trip we took. The awning was missing a cap. The M/H has a jack to change a tire and a spare tire rack (under the chassis) but no spare tire. They told us they do it for safety sake. They don’t want the customer changing a rear dually tire. What do you do in the middle of nowhere if you have no spare? I do have to give Camping World kudos, they have fixed everything to date.

Ron Ker
4 days ago

I think any honest RV sales person would quit and find a different job. Having been in sales for 45 years I never sold products that did not perform as they should. I sold products that would not fail my customers(friends). I sold in a repeat sales so I treated customers as friends not just a dollar in my pocket, if something happened I took care of it. When a customer would ask if a product that my company was pushing was great(advertising) and if I had problems or doubts about it I would not recommend it. I don’t mean to sound all goody two shoes but my name, my integrity, would not allow me to sell a subpar product to my customers.

Jonathan Lackman
4 days ago

We bought a top of the line as we thought the quality would be better. However, Grand Design did not stand behind their warranty on a 4 month old catastrophic failure. They essentially blamed us and said the freshwater tank is not supposed to be over half full .

Gary Rivers
4 days ago

I would contact GD cs and talk to a different representative. That is not their normal response.

Gary
4 days ago

Really that is not true! Lies lies lies!

Steve
4 days ago

Ok I’m looking at the dates of the rvs on most of these comments. Has any else noticed that the quality went into the crapper shortly after Indiana went to “right to work” , meaning no unions?!

Peter
4 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Good observation.

secret
3 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I would like everyone who has made a comment to know that we are not in a union. I’ve been building these rvs for 13 years and I’ve never heard of any rv company being in a union… Also I’d like to speak out so everyone understands this industry… I am a base setter for a company that is based in Elkhart County running 20 units a day, and its true its been very rough the last year and a half. people not wanting to come in, never knowing when someone’s going to call off or quit on you… When someone calls off you or someone else has to chip in and help do that person’s job now granted that’s a full days worth of work and there’s been many time 2 or 3 people have called off in a single day and the good experienced rv worker is forced to do the work with no extra pay other then the pay we make on a normal week.. we are struggling as an industry finding people to work at all due to covid and all the money the government keeps giving out. so I hope people can understand a little better.

Mark C Mccabe
3 days ago
Reply to  secret

So they do not get paid at all for the extra hours of work you mentioned while covering for workers that did not show? I suspect this would certainly be against the federal labor laws unless they are classified “Exempt” (management, not hourly).

anon from the web
3 days ago
Reply to  secret

I wonder if these things are related…

forced to do the work with no extra pay”

“struggling as an industry finding people to work at all”

Yves Lacombe
20 hours ago

Haha. You’d think they could add 2 and 2 together but judging by how badly these things are put together, I guess not.

Yves Lacombe
20 hours ago
Reply to  secret

Have you considered maybe (the industry, not you personally) — you know, paying them for the extra hours? You have personnel retention issues but you treat them like crap? It’s always made me laugh when I hear employers say “we can’t find good help” when in reality it translates to “we can’t find good help we’re only willing to pay as little as we can as possible”.

You get what you pay for. If that’s the prevailing attitude in the industry, you get what you deserve and if you feel “employee loyalty is in the shitter” – well usually people quit because of bad managers and bad working conditions.

There’s a very advanced piece of technology called a mirror. I wish the people in this industry who are decision makers actually used it.

brian parkrt
16 hours ago
Reply to  secret

So.blame it on the government you say? Ever considered paying a higher wage to retain quality workers as an option?

Laura Gutsmann
19 hours ago
Reply to  Steve

Georgia has been a “right to work state” for years, we build good quality. I don’t believe that’s the problem. I believe the issue is all the free handouts from the government & all the unemployment they’re receiving, people don’t care anymore. They don’t want to be told what to do so they quit.

William
4 days ago

This is what I am dealing with. Like you read in a lot of other reviews the floor is unusable. This unit was less then 3 years old when it started. The unit was in storage I pulled it out and the seal for slide out wall and floor had leaked and allowed water to ruin the slide out floor to where it needs to be fully replaced. I contact Highlands customer service and they told me it was not covered by the warranty that I had for three years. I followed every direction they stated in the book for storing and cleaning. And now because I cannot come up with $4000 to $6000 I now have a 15-year loan on a paperweight. I have done a lot of research on this problem and if you look through all the reviews and everything this is a major issue with this brand and with jayco who is the owner of it. The the seals that use are not holding up. They are not taking responsibility for their workmanship and now an investment that I made for many years is now ruined. I’m being told that none of this is covered.

Kyle John
4 days ago

No one wants to discuss the absolute legal slavery that these places are implying , have of them don’t pay you right and the other half don’t have parts and expect us to work until 8-9 at night when I came in at 5-6 , the worlds demands are unreasonable, we are giving it our all

Peter
4 days ago
Reply to  Kyle John

Sad to hear. As I suspected.

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