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These RVers claim there is another reason behind poor-quality RVs

We’ve heard all about it: The poor quality of RVs coming out of manufacturing plants during the past few years. Blame has been assigned to company bosses who set unreasonable production goals. Fault is also placed at the feet of crew bosses who continually urge their line laborers to “work faster.” Blame has also fallen on unskilled and/or unprofessional workers who seem okay just slapping things together. And on it goes.

Could newbies be blamed?

I was recently reading some posts on an RV forum. Here, folks offered a unique perspective about the poor quality of today’s RVs. I thought it was interesting. Maybe you will, too. Here’s what a few people had to say:

L.W. said, “I’m not defending anyone (dealers or manufacturers), but how many of the issues were ‘new owner’ imposed? I’m sorry, but the sheer number of people who have never set foot in a camper before and expect them to work exactly like a S&B home is incredible. I belong to a FB group for a specific RV brand. I cannot believe how many ‘newbies’ break something by incorrectly performing a job (like emptying the tanks) and then blame the manufacturer.”

John M. agrees: “Do these new RVers not read their rig’s manuals? I’d laugh at their shenanigans if it wasn’t so sad. And the manufacturing company is to blame for poor quality in RVs? Not in every case!”

Vera chimes in: “I’ve watched a ‘newbie RVer’ try to hook up to the electrical posts while their better half attempts to get control of the water hose. Not a good combination!”

Joe B. remembers, “I had a guy move in next to me. He wondered if I had room in my fridge for his beer. When I asked ‘Why?’ he said his fridge was broken. It was a brand-new RV! Turns out, the Newbie couldn’t figure out how to unlatch the fridge handles, and he made the mistake of using a little too much force. Handles broke off. He’s not worried though. He says it’s under warranty. That’s not poor RV quality. That’s user blunder.”

And then there was L.J.: “A fifth-wheel rig pulled into the site next to me. It was a circus! The Newbies knew nothing about hooking up, using the convenience center, had no sewer connections, etc. They CUT OFF the end of their sewer hose to ‘adapt’ it to the ‘correct length’ (to the sewer). I offered to help when they first pulled in, but they weren’t interested.”

What to do?

Here are some suggestions for experienced RVers

  • Kindly (and humbly) offer to help the newbie. Maybe a disclaimer like “We were all newbies once” will help break the ice. However, use caution. Not everyone is able to accept assistance. Others want to perform RV chores for themselves so that they can learn.
  • Encourage the newbie’s attempts. Give suggestions when asked. Otherwise, one offer to help is usually enough.
  • Don’t hover, but be available if newbie decides s/he needs your help.

Advice for the newbie

  • Read your RV owner’s manual. Really read it! Take it with you. Every. Trip. Or download it to your laptop so you’ll have easy access to it.
  • If your dealer or private seller didn’t give you a manual, ask the manufacturer for one. Or see if you can find a manual for your RV online.
  • Accept the fact that you don’t know everything about RVing. Humbly receive advice and help from those who have more experience. (Trust your gut. If the advice seems unreliable, graciously thank your neighbor, then get a second opinion.)
  • Call your dealer with your questions or ask the private seller for problem-solving suggestions.
  • Join a group or forum that deals with your specific make and model of RV. You can gain a lot of knowledge from reading about problems that others have faced—and solved.
  • Be patient with yourself, your travel partner, and well-meaning experienced RVers. Take your time when tackling new chores or procedures.
  • Have fun! Even the most frustrating experience will be a fond memory one day. “Hey, remember that time we broke the (insert part) and spent (insert the obnoxious repair bill amount)? Fun times, right?”

What advice would you give to a newbie?

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Bob Taters
2 months ago

While in Wyoming in our brand new RV (paid way too much for it) on a cross country trip our awning decided to deploy while we were going 65 MPH. I don’t see how us being newbies had anything to do it. Turns out this happens quite often. Also, when we got to Florida the rear light panel fell off. I wish we had bought a used one or bought a cheap new one on a chassis we like realizing whatever we pay there is going to be a lot of maintenance. Don’t depend on the dealer helping they have one goal in mind. Sell it and get you out of there. During the walk through the “expert” didn’t know many of the features of the RV.
We do love RVing though. My advice buy a cheap one and a bunch of tools.

Angie
6 months ago

Still unsure with all the posts I’ve read how a “newbie” is responsible for cheap quality? Wouldn’t you say that’s the manufacturers responsibility? I understand people who won’t read an owners manual will cause some of their own grief but that is a totally separate issue from building poor quality high ticket items. Sorry but they are two separate things. If someone doesn’t want to educate themselves about an expensive new purchase, then they can suffer the consequences. We are talking about the initial quality of a product. Not issues created by lazy people not wanting to educate themselves. That said, are there “any” decent manufacturers of RVs out there??

Chuck
6 months ago

I have participated and studied this industry for years. My understanding today is that most production companies and suppliers like Lippert, pay their suppliers piecework resulting in no incentive for quality, only quantity. And like Lippert, they off shore to china production of many components.

Leonl
6 months ago

Recently purchased a 2022 5th wheel and finally worked out the bugs so to speak. My impression is the issues should have been resolved at the dealership before said unit is given to sale persons, who know basically nothing about the products. No communication between departments is critical for catastrophic problems. Hello Camping World are you listening?

bill burton
6 months ago

owned 7 rvs. rv company owners own these companies to make as much money as they can. the only costs they deal with are material, labor/employee benefits, and overhead. after an rv is initially designed, to make more money, they impose cost reductions to reduce their cost, without reducing the selling price. this is normal procedure but can be way overdone or intelligently done. to attain more market share some of the manufacturers have way over cost reduced their units and 2 things then happen. 1. the customer gets a unit made with cheaper and/or inferior materials and appliances and 2. the better manufacturers are forced to do the same so they can even sell their units. the result is poor overall quality. cheap materials including inadequate rubber roofs that leak, the oracle of Omaha and his ilk will eventually move on leaving the customers to deal with millions of poorly made rvs and a flailing industry. think about it. greedy owners, not newbies.

Craig
9 months ago

My wife and I have been RV’ing together for 25+ years. As an experienced RVer, I have watched many people make mistakes with various types of RVs. I too have had some myself, I think everyone has at one point. Make some sort of checklist or mental process that you always follow and things will go more smoothly. If someone offers help or suggestion, you may actually learn something.
Also, if you haven’t done so, take a driving course that uses your rig with a professional trainer. I drove school busses for years and had a commercial driver’s license for decades. It’s mind blowing to see people used to driving a tiny car get into a Class A or try to tow a trailer.

Ron Yanuszewski
9 months ago

Unfortunately both are true, They make crap and people are total morons. I’m so tired of hearing “we were all new once”. When I was new I learned how to use it before I got it, Then learned again before I left home with it. no excuse for being lazy and dumb. Unless of course you’re just lazy and dumb.

John Meyers
9 months ago

I’m 65 and bought my first RV in my early 20’s and have since owned campers, 5th wheels, travel trailers and C class motor homes. None of them were great quality but the latest one I bought last summer was by far the worst. Knowing RV’s have lousy quality and RV service departments are the worst I always buy an RV knowing that I’ll be the one doing all the repairs. They’re actually easy to work on.

S Stallard
4 months ago
Reply to  John Meyers

I agree with you. I once complained to the dealer that somebody took a crap in my toilet when it was in the shop being serviced. Of course they denied it. When I got to my RV site I discovered half my stove had been disconnected. I put it back together correctly and have never went back to that RV Country dealer in Fresno ever again.

Randy
9 months ago

Most RV manuals are garbage. They are very generic and often there is nothing that is actually specific to the make and model of RV you purchased. I wouldn’t even have issue with this if a detailed manual specific to my model of RV was available online. It is not. I have used YouTube dozens of times to figure things out that simply were not stated at all in the manual. Some things are, for example, manufacturing issues. All of my water switches (hot water heater bypass, winterizing, etc.) are backwards! Off is on with every single switch. As soon as I and a helpful neighbor figured this out, we actually were able to use our RV! The refrigerator was installed too far against the outer wall of the slide and it pinched the water hose to the ice maker causing water to pour out onto the floor. When the tech came to fix it, he found nothing wrong. He didn’t know there was a water bypass valve to the refrigerator under the sink. They weren’t even trained on specific models!

Brenda
9 months ago

In the 1980’s the business world discovered a new word: QUALITY. The word is still used but has little meaning. It is now just a vague concept.

Quality programs were a hot topic. Business texts contained acronyms like TQM, CQI, SPC; honored gurus like Deming, Shewhart, Juran; taunted process models by Drs. Ishakawa, Taguchi, Shingo. That was a long time ago and yet so much is still applicable.

One well known CQI proponent, Dr. W. Edwards Deming note that 85% of product failures are a result of deficiencies in the process and systems, not the employees.

As a trainer I worked with many manufacturers over the years. I can attest that what I saw on shop floors bore out Dr. Deming’s statement. Employees can only work with what they have: what management gives them, how well management prepares and trains them for the job.

What happened to quality? It cost $$.

In the words of Pete Seeger — “When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?”

Angie
6 months ago
Reply to  Brenda

You are so correct. Thank you for a well thought and coherent statement.

Njal Larson
9 months ago

I owned a 100 site RV Resort (sold last year) and currently work as a Mobile Tech. sure people are idiots sometimes and many make rookie move – but that does not explain away the leaking seams, shoddy plumbing, underrated suspensions, tanks dropping out of frames, unfinished electical, etc, etc. This is just some industry fluff piece, total hose sh!t IMO. #1 thing I tell folks who ask me about buying is ‘wait a year’ the market will be flooded with lightly used units from unhappy campers for a fraction of the new cost and the bug will have been worked out. My 2020 Raptor 351 is pre-pandemic, it cost $62,500 new and was reasonably well built. People now are paying 100K+ for the same unit with nothing but headaches.

BILLY Bob Thronton
9 months ago
Reply to  Njal Larson

Bingo! Hold on for just a little bit longer, and bargains galore will be amongst us. We are in bubble territory, in Commodities, stocks, bonds and real estate. That has NEVER happened in the modern history of the civilized world. So, for those who have been wise, and thrifty, your going to see a bonanza, and for those who spent their last dimes, buying stuff you had no business getting yourselves into, prepare for a major adjustment.

Tom
9 months ago

I’ve worked in the RV industry for many years and I have a different viewpoint from this article. If everyone who ever tried to use an RV was a certifiable idiot and did absolutely everything wrong it would not explain the absolute junk that is being manufactured now.

Two-year-old RVs come into my shop with Filon delamination that comes close to totaling an $80K RV. When we remove the Filon the Luan underneath is so rotted it indicates that the leaks started within weeks of leaving the manufacture. The manufacturers are using cheaper materials put together with poor craftsmanship and they don’t give a . . . because people are standing in line to hand them money.

When we get down to the aluminum structure holding your house together while going down the road at 60+ mph the welds are poorly tacked not even close to fully welded.

The fault is not with the newbies but with us that are putting up with this.

BILLY Bob Thronton
9 months ago
Reply to  Tom

…..and lawyers shall decend upon them, fleecing any remaining funds these newbies have left, trying to right the wrongs….. and these piles of junk will put a taint on the industry for many years to come….

Vanessa
9 months ago

I read several RV books (two by a retired Canadian military couple that full timed for years) and subscribed to RV magazines for at least three years before I planned to buy one. It was going to be my retirement present but instead it was my 60th birthday present to myself. Eight months later I retired and one of my first trips was to Escapees Boot Camp and RV Driving School and followed a few weeks later by taking FMCA Basic RV. I would encourage anyone wanting to start this lifestyle/adventure to follow a similar path. It is too big an investment to jump in unprepared.

John H
9 months ago

This article seems like a classic case of the manufacturers blaming their customers for their poor quality.

I recently looked at a new Super C motorhome from a manufacturer with a reputation for good quality. It’s a new model I’d been following through development and thought it would be the perfect one for me. I was ready to buy.

I was astonished at the poor quality! Uneven ridges in the floor, cabinet doors falling off, wires hanging out, on and on. The fit and finish on the $300,000+ motor home was no better than that of a $20,000 trailer.

I’m sure newbies make plenty of mistakes. But the owners documentation for this motorhome is nearly non-existent, just a handful of generic videos.

I suppose it’s ultimately the customer’s fault for waiting in line to buy poorly made RVs. If I could only find something that was made as well as a Earthroamer and didn’t cost $2 million.

Njal Larson
9 months ago
Reply to  John H

At the tampa show I was looking at coaches close to 1 million, and could not believe how craptastic they were on fit and finish. cheap bling…

DonB
9 months ago

A few years ago we were in Elkhart and toured a couple of factories. The tour guide at the trailer plant was proud of the fact that they pulled every 10th trailer and gave it a complete QC checkout! We even run it through a rain check, pointing to what looked like a car wash about 30 feet long. We fill all the tanks, even check out the wiring! Seemed proud of the fact that they checked 1 out of 10!
I will agree that a lot of mistakes are made by newbees, I think that everyone of us was one at one time or another. I’ve been hauling these rigs around for going on 60 years or better and I (we) still make mistakes. So I don’t think that blaming them for all the carp that gets shipped to dealers is right.
Remember when American autos were build with no oversight? Overseas manufacturers starting shipping better built autos and all of a sudden Americans started getting better. I think the same thing is about to happen in the RV world.

Jack Washburn
9 months ago
Reply to  DonB

100% agree but respectfully, it won’t happen in the RV industry… at least not anytime soon and it comes down to the one thing why anybody is in this industry… money. There is way too much money in this industry to stop anything from changing. All the way from the very top to all the way to the bottom and there are a lot of barricades in place, inside and outside of the industry, to make sure of that. There are a lot of people in the industry that make much more than anyone would guess… and built a lifestyle around that… wouldn’t you make sure to protect the life you built from an industry that is made up of a product that is a luxury item.
A car can be argued as a necessity item that everyone could need… a RV is not and demand changes over night. It is never “if”, it’s always “when” a downturn is going to happen. That’s why Elkhart county is looked at as the pulse of the economy. With that, don’t think politics are not involved in this industry. There’s my full circle with policies and barricades in place.

David
9 months ago

I admit to being a newbie as my first purchase of a travel trailer was just under a year ago. I get the author of this story stressing reading the owner’s manual, but the experience I had at the dealership was underwhelming. The person who delivered the trailer to me, gave me little to no info about how anything worked. The walkthrough probably took five to seven minutes. I didn’t even know how to unhitch the trailer from the ball after taking delivery.

Joe
9 months ago
Reply to  David

All newbee must attend YouTube “university” a lot of good content on just anout anything RV.

Larry
9 months ago

Great responses. But if a newbie won’t even read their owners manual, I doubt they would even read this great article and the helpful hints.

Edward Smith
9 months ago

I am 67 and purchased my first RV. All these years kept looking and shaking my head at how poorly made they were. Junk, junk, junk.

Deadarmadillo
9 months ago

I’m certainly not a “newbie”, and have had 8 RV’s counting one motorhome and will give my two cents worth. RV workmanship from design to delivery is generally crap. And telling anyone to read the owners manual is a joke. Have you read one lately? They don’t really tell you anything usable. No plumbing or wiring diagrams. Anyway, if you are new to RV’ing, my suggestion is to become pretty much an RV technician because you will have problems and you will find getting service and ordering parts are very difficult. Learn how to do your own repair and/or replacements. Understand that the manufacturers do everything as fast and cheap as they possibly can, leaving things half done, and sawdust everywhere they think you will never look.

steve
9 months ago
Reply to  Deadarmadillo

thumbs up on this

rodpod
9 months ago
Reply to  steve

Make that 2 thumbs up. If you’re product is crap the solution is blame or ignore the customer. It will work for a time, but eventually it will come back to bite the manufacturers. This industry is littered with failed RV manufacturers. The next round of failures is just around the corner. That said, there are some RV builders out there that recognize an opportunity to differentiate their product, and will start to capture market share with better built coaches.

Jeff Craig
9 months ago
Reply to  Deadarmadillo

Can’t argue with this. I’ve had my FR Georgetown for over 13 years, and when I had a parts issue, I had to call the company. I got a lot of support from their FROG (FR Owners Group) support guru, who used to work on the line building my model (340TS). He said that they basically just assembled what the designers and engineers told them to assemble, and they never kept schematics or blueprints around because there wasn’t a need. The Companies didn’t keep them because who wants to pay for storage, much less keep an RV on the road when the customer should be trading up to a new one.

Thomas D
9 months ago

Anyway you slice it, it’s still the manufacturer and it’s workers to use quality parts and labor. Mine is/was put together pretty good but a lot if trim fell off because of staples that were TOO short. Manufacturers saved what,50 cents a box by using shorter than necessary staples. I’ve had wood split because installer got too close to outside edge rather than center. Id have known right away if I were assembling something that staples were to short but he didn’t want trouble from his boss so the poor work continues. Some people are pure stupid and some don’t give a darn. A little glue would be nice too. Cabinet makers use a lot of it and most houses dont go bouncing down to highway.

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