Reader Letter: Advice needed about buying a quality fifth wheel

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Dear editor:
I was wondering if you did a ranking of 5th wheel trailers. I am buying one in the next six months or so, and am somewhat confused as to who really builds quality units. Thanks! —Leonard R.

Dear Leonard:
My personal feeling is to be cautious about buying anything from Forest River or Thor without a comprehensive inspection by someone qualified to do such a thing (that does NOT include someone at the dealership). Most of their units are fine, but there are some with defects rolling off the line, too. If at all possible visit a factory where the RV you favor is made, and closely observe the process.

The RV Consumer Group at RV.org publishes buying guides. Some people rave about them, others say they are a waste of money. There is no Consumer Reports that rates RVs. Be careful paying for advice that claims to do that.

The main thing is to take your time, and remember that there are a lot of poorly made units being produced today. So whatever you buy, have it inspected carefully by a professional technician. It may cost you $500 (plus or minus) but it will help ensure you don’t get stuck with a lemon. Read our Facebook group RV Horror Stories to see how that can go (not pretty).

And when you buy, do so from a dealer with a good reputation for service. If you buy from a distant dealer based on a great price, you may find your local dealer will refuse to work on it, or take months to get you in. Visit PissedConsumer.com to research dealerships.

Also, strongly consider buying a well-maintained used unit. You will save a lot of money, and the RV will have a history — two very good things. Best of luck. —Chuck/editor

##RVT932

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Chris
6 months ago

One thing I can add to this is that last November my wife and I purchased a gently used 2019 5th wheel camper from a dealer in Central Texas. After my initial inspection, I did what I thought to be prudent and asked to get a third party inspector to the lot to perform our inspection. I was told they did not allow this due to insurance purposes. Strongly feeling like calling BS on this, we did as much due diligence as we could and continued to purchase the unit without a true third party inspection since we saved nearly $20k. The dealer did perform their inspection and walk through with me, correcting three or four small issues. Luckily, our 5er has been great thus far and we have seen no issues, but I’m curious if others have seen this “insurance” excuse.

Don Baker
6 months ago

When we were looking to buy our RV we signed up with RV Consumer group. They had a spreadsheet that was available to purchase (electronically) that reviewed every RV manufacturer and every model. It categorized RV’s into four categories: weekenders, vacationers, snowbirders, and full timers. It also rated by four different values including driveability, repairability, reliability and another I cannot remember. We would go to RV shows and see something we liked and then review the ratings.
Worked very well for us.

Steven Scheinin
6 months ago

Why just Forest River and Thor. I would think all manufacturers. I have owned a Cedar Creek, from Forest River, for 4 years. It must have been made on a Wednesday, as I have had very few problems, and no manufacturing defects.

Ken
6 months ago

Also. Do not buy at an RV show. Many of these units are drug from show to show. What you see in Quartzite this week, maybe in Dallas next week then Reno the following month.

Jeff
6 months ago
Reply to  Ken

Thanks KEN!
I always tell people to NEVER buy from an RV Show. Most of these units at RV Shows are the JUNK that dealers couldn’t unload from last years models.

And of course, never buy from CAMPING WORLD, you will be sorry!

Marybeth Almand
6 months ago

We bought a 2004 29.5 Northwood Arctic Fox. We did a lot of research and decided that a true 4 season, built in Oregon, not Indiana, was for us. Outdoors RV Glacier Peak was also considered but we got a really good deal on this one. It’s built like a tank, well upgraded and maintained from a private party. We pull it with a 3500 diesel. Not even 1 regret in our 3 years of fulltiming so far.

Sink Jaxon
6 months ago

Agreed, I own an Arctic Fox TC …have used it for 2 1/2 years. Had one small issue I fixed myself, that’s it! Well made and performs like it should.

Alex
6 months ago

Chuck, glad you added “used unit” at end. You can learn lots about the RV through researching on-line forums. You can learn even more by meeting and speaking with the owner/seller. You can see whether it was stored inside or exposed to the elements. You should be able to evaluate how well the RV was maintained. Any knowledgeable owner can demonstrate features and functions better than a dealership. Even more important, invoke your instincts to determine whether the seller has integrity and is worthy of your trust. The latter attribute is rarely found at dealerships.

Don Driever
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex

I/we have been RV’ers for over 50 years and have owned most all types of RVs. We have never bought a new one and I see no reason to change our ways. We have always taken our time and planned ahead when buying another rig. Make a list of things that are a priority for you and don’t forget to include the things that you don’t ever want. There are always some lessor important things that you might have to give up on having, but if you take your time you can generally get most of what you want.