Wednesday, November 29, 2023

MENU readers see no improvement in RV quality

By Terri Nighswonger
You wouldn’t think buying a quality, well-built RV would be a problem, but horror stories abound among many well-known brands.

RV Travel has conducted several polls throughout the years, with mixed results. Some RVers who cited problems had some whoppers. Others, like my husband and I, have had almost no issues with our Grand Design Reflection 312BHTS travel trailer since we bought it new in October 2018.

In 2017, 54 percent of readers polled said the quality of their rigs was good, 24 percent rated the quality as excellent, 18 percent poor and 3 percent terrible.

In 2018, 44 percent of our readers rated their RVs in Three Little Piggies lingo as: made of bricks (44 percent), sticks (41 percent) and straw (15 percent).

“Rice paper wasn’t an option,” one reader commented.

In our most recent poll, 56 percent reported their RV quality was good, while 24 percent said excellent, 16 percent poor and 3 percent terrible. These results are similar to our poll two years ago, so it doesn’t appear things have changed much, if at all.

I recently read that as an RV moves down the road, it’s experiencing the equivalent of a 3.2 magnitude earthquake. Add in bad roads and poor quality, and it’s no wonder many rigs fall apart.

According to reader Joel: “We have a love/hate relationship with a 2015 Keystone Cougar TT and our first night camping, found the rear jack bent (dealer was the cause). ‘Bumper to bumper’ turns out is a VERY BROAD term. Keystone doesn’t cover “bent” and our dealer didn’t do the first thing about it. Then a year into our ‘new’ camper, the floor went spongy. Keystone took it back to the factory and replaced the floor. The axles under these rigs are absolutely horrible! Wheelbarrow tires are better than the substandard excuses they put on them. The cabinets are nothing but a visual effect. I’ve learned how to work on most everything, so I’m slowly getting it right. When problems aren’t occurring, we love camping and traveling.”

For many respondents, it seems that older is better.

Bluebird Bob commented that his 32-year-old Bluebird Wanderlodge is going strong. “These were made before Prevost and were top-of-the-line rigs; solid inside, no particle boards, foam insulation and it goes on and on. We have had people say our rig is 100 percent better quality than theirs. Would we trade up? Not on your life!!”

“In my opinion, it’s better to buy a high-end well-maintained rig rather than a brand-new lower-end rig. Way less depreciation as well,” Darrell said.

Ann said her 2003 Winnebago Sightseer is still in great shape, although somewhat dated in appearance and overall design. “However, it far surpasses anything we have found as a possible replacement. As a result, we have decided to continue maintaining it as we have since it was a baby with the hope that we will get many more years of enjoyment traveling the U.S. We haven’t had anyone question the ‘10-years-old or newer’ rule in place at many campgrounds. They don’t ask, we don’t tell. We still prefer national and state parks, however!”

Don purchased a 2018 Thor ACE and had 42 problems ranging from damaged cabinet doors, bubbled outside decals, warped storage bin doors, leaking seals on storage bin doors and a wrong refrigerator panel installed. “I rated this at terrible, however, I can’t say enough good things about the dealer that we purchased it from. They have been exceptional with fixing the problems as they come up. … So far our experience with what could be a very nice motor home has been disappointing.”

And finally, Steven says what we are all thinking: “Why does this industry have so many issues. … maybe they should stop the piece work and consider quality control.”

That, Steven, is a good subject for another story.




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Engineer (@guest_119540)
2 years ago

80% of owners rate their RV as Good to Excellent….20% rated their as poor. Similar results to all consumer products!! While we all accept the facts that some manufacturers produce units with less concern about quality than others we also have owners that complain when the sun comes up..that the world we live in…Good Luck

Last edited 2 years ago by Engineer
Alvin (@guest_88574)
3 years ago

What is most scary beside these crappy things still attaching a buyer is the speeds people travel with them. Very very scary. Most haven’t the ability to travel straight ahead down the road (backing up forget it) but when one of those crappy axles blows a **** bearing or a tire blows, there’s nothing but kindling left for the campfire that will not get lit that night.

Alan Sills (@guest_88431)
3 years ago

After reading the comments, it reinforces my perspective – people are ENTIRELY too forgiving about their RV’s (they don’t want to admit they bought JUNK???) and they do near ZERO research before plunking down MAJOR dollars. I work with people to get these and I see all too many focused solely (and primarily) upon floor plan – and NOT upon build quality.

I hear “they all have problems” as an excuse for why things like awnings fall off, slide motors fail, landing gear motors fail, sidewalls delaminate, and on and on. The REALITY is some are built better than others. I’ve reached the point that I can not recommend any forest river OR thor built camper (under ANY of their dozens of brand names – talk about confusing the public!?) In some of the forest river companies (Coachmen, Prime Time, and others) its tough to find the connection to FR… WHY isn’t this PROUDLY announced… hmm?

Barb (@guest_88295)
3 years ago

We have a Forest River Wildwood which is poorly constructed. We have had such a terrible fly problem often picking up hundreds every time we clean up for spring. We have foam insulated every nook and cranny we could find And no, it is not the holding tank. We seem to have things under control after Five years. Have today put new and extra weatherstripping on windows in an effort to keep those huge miller moths out of them! Needed new tires the second year, etc. Decal came off the front the third year and I could not get a response about getting a new one from FR. As we do not live in our fifth wheel, it is strictly for short term vacations so it will do.

Matt Johnson (@guest_88285)
3 years ago

part one below, this ispart 2
The grease fittings for the axle hangers only half of them will allow grease in so I don’t know how they greased it at the factory before they delivered it. And the list goes on. It’s very disturbing after we had no problems at all with our reflection that we are having so many problems with our solitude that cost about twice as much. So far we’re still waiting to hear how much grand design will pay for all of the repair since we are on the road for the next 9 to 14 months we can’t really have it down in a dealership anywhere.

Last edited 3 years ago by Matt Johnson
Matt Johnson (@guest_88284)
3 years ago

I’m glad to hear you have had no problems with your grand design. We traded in a 2016 grand design reflection, for a 2020 grand designs solitude last September. We have a ton of problems with it. And I don’t mean the parts that grand design put in from other manufacturers, believe it or not those are working pretty good. The problem is With grand design installed and built parts. Every window valance has warped to the point we’re they pulled out the Brad nails and these valences are falling off when we drive. We have a water leak that is underneath the center island kitchen that we have recently found out and when we called out a mobile mechanic to look at it he estimates that it has been there from day one due to the large amount of rust on the frame that everything is bolted to, we’re looking at dropping both great tanks and possibly a black tank And we have to replace all the installation and possibly the sub floor.

Ncgrandma (@guest_88249)
3 years ago

We have a 2018 Keystone premiere. This is our 2nd rv so we had a little idea what to expect. We’ve had a few problems,; had to replace the motor on the awning within a couple months of purchase, had some problems with the refrigerator not staying cold, the furnace making weird noises and pieces of trim popping off. The dealer took care of the awning motor and refrigerator with no problem. Checked out the furnace and found nothing wrong, it still makes the noise, but works. The small things my husband fixed. So I guess overall we have been happy with our unit. As we use it more and more small things need fixing but that is part of using it.

Al Figone (@guest_88234)
3 years ago

We have owned RV’s of various styles for about 25 years. Always 2-3+ years used and I always maintained them with a few major exceptions. I enjoy doing the maintenance. Lets me see what condition things are in, and do repair/replacement, long BEFORE a breakdown in some remote part of the country. We have multiple friends that have joined in on the RV life and bought new to get started. Their laundry list of bad assembly problems, right out of the factory, are why we absolutely refuse to buy anything new.
It’s my opinion that the manufactures keep cranking out this junk because (1) new consumers that aren’t familiar w/RV’s really have no idea what they are getting into, and (2) new consumers refuse to listen to cautionary advice from long-time RV folks and, instead, get caught up in the glitz and glamor being put out by the very profitable RV Mfg. industry today. So until consumers push back, real hard, against the industry why should they change what they are doing?

Roy Ellithorpe (@guest_88219)
3 years ago

In 2012 we purchased a 2006 Travel Supreme (NEW sticker price 580k). Within 20 minutes of taking possession the generator quit, $1000. A few of the other things that come to mind, virtually every electrical component on the AquaHot, over 2000$. Inverter problems 2000$ and 2 years of diagnosis and frustration. Another generator problem $1500. EGR valve $2500. AC $500. Wheel alignment x 3 and still told “it’s not right but that’s all the adjustment” $2500. New steer tires x 4 $3500. Slideout motor $1000. Extra cross bracing $1000 and still 2 new windshields. 1 leaking hydraulic leveling jack valve $80, diagnosis $1000. Thankfully my memory is going or this list would be much longer. It does not include regular maintenance such as rear tire’s and oil changes.
Virtually none of these problems were because of shoddy build. Most were due to the component manufacturers (shoddy) and LACK of use.
Oh yes, engine fan drive shaft (Spartan) $500 plus labour.

Warren G (@guest_88177)
3 years ago

I’d like to suggest that future polls have an option between good and poor – maybe so-so or okay. We had a number of issues with our new 2016 Keystone Cougar TT, and some little examples of corner cutting are evident. Once we got everything sorted out it’s been pretty decent, though.

Bob p (@guest_88129)
3 years ago

I wonder how many people who have complaints about rvs coming apart drive at 75 mph. We are passed driving 62 mph constantly by rvs that make us feel like we’re in reverse. Yes I know quality is lacking today, but I believe owners bring some repairs upon themselves. These are houses on wheels, not their BMW, the journey can be just as interesting as the destination, sometimes more so.

Alvin (@guest_88575)
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob p

Bob I couldn’t agree with you more. Happy trails – check my response similar to yours.

Rick (@guest_91134)
3 years ago
Reply to  Bob p

With us the journey is just as entertaining as the destination. We take roads less travelled as much as we can, enjoy the scenery, stop at roadside vegetable stands. If something seems interesting, we make the turn and go check it out.

Will (@guest_88121)
3 years ago

“Why does this industry have so many issues. … maybe they should stop the piece work and consider quality control.”

The answer is simple: people keep buying poorly built RVs. The minute buyers stop buying poorly built RVs, they’ll stop making them. But alas, Americans don’t think that way, we’re always looking for a bargain and we prefer to buy cheap junk than expensive good stuff. So blame us! CAVET EMPTOR. Let the buyer beware. In other words, quit whining. It’s your fault!

Captn John (@guest_88307)
3 years ago
Reply to  Will

QC would require employees that passed both a background and drug test. Employees would need at least a basic knowledge of their assigned tasks. Few if any current employees could keep their job.

Alvin (@guest_88576)
3 years ago
Reply to  Will

Simple answers to your question Will – people buy crap and the manufacturer gets away scott frree producing it – nothing more nothing less.

Norm (@guest_90977)
3 years ago
Reply to  Will

well, we’ve had many trailers since 1972…sadly they are getting worse! Currently own a 2017 Redwood. It’s been in the factory repair shop both in Topeka IN & Pendleton OR twice, each!!! Biggest issues were the ceiling falling down and 4 major suspension failures. It’s now August, and currently waiting since February 8th to get it back. I believe they’ve spent $60+ thousand fixing it. Moral of the story….just because you spend a lot of money doesn’t mean it’s a better trailer.

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