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.