By Russ and Tiña De Maris
You don’t need to look far to find dissatisfaction among folks who’ve bought new RVs. It’s a matter of, “For the money we’ve spent, to have to send the thing back for service immediately is ridiculous.” This is a common refrain. But at least two RV manufacturers may alleviate some of that. A new RV inspection service has just opened in the heart of U.S. RV manufacturing country. General RV Center has thrown open the bay doors at its Bristol, Indiana, inspection plant.

Manufacturer inspections none-too-skookum

RV manufacturers may say they do rigorous pre-shipment inspection of the units they turn out. We don’t have any hard-and-fast statistics as to satisfaction. Still, the number of complaints we hear from readers suggests that any such inspections aren’t too impressive. These include appliances that don’t work, plumbing that leaks, electricity that doesn’t flow where it should. All are common squawks we hear from unhappy customers. It often means a return to a dealership. Then come weeks – if not months – of waiting for the problems to be fixed. All this with finger-crossing that the problems are fixed the first time.

General RV’s inspection plant is said to help alleviate this problem. New RV inspection will be the order of the day for nearly 100 employees. The job titles recently opened for hire at the 77-acre site include many: production associate, warranty technician, detailer, facility cleaner, and shipping and receiving specialists. It appears that General will do more than just inspect outgoing rigs – they just might clean up the mess left behind by RV manufacturing line employees. What a novel concept!

So what companies’ rigs are being inspected here?

When General RV first floated the idea of opening the new facility, mum was the word as to who might be its customers. Now the word is out. At least two big players in the RV manufacturing game have signed up for new RV inspections: Grand Design RV and Winnebago. General says there are other RV builders, too, but didn’t elaborate. If the inspection company lives up to expectations and turns back rigs with problems, then kudos to the two named builders. Having RVs delivered to dealerships without a swarm of problems would be a major relief to customers. And it would go a long way to improving the industry’s reputation.

General RV is a Wixom, Michigan-based outfit. It’s no stranger to the RV field, having 13 RV dealerships in Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, and Utah. Perhaps the seed for the idea of a new RV inspection service came from dealing with unhappy campers who bought trouble-riddled RVs. In any event, one can be hopeful that if General RV’s new service does what it should, other RV manufacturers would take the hint and have their units inspected – and fixed – before sending them down the road.

Related

Readers’ tales of woe about the quality of their RVs
The readers write — Hammer-toss at poor-quality RVs
Who really makes a quality RV?

##RVT995b

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Dana D
18 days ago

Ridiculous! Quality should be the responsibility of the production worker. You can’t “inspect” quality into a product. The aircraft and aircraft engine manufacturers for years have placed the responsibility of quality on the production worker. There aren’t “quality inspectors” at the end of the production line looking for quality problems. At the end of the production line all systems are tested for proper operation though.

Mary
22 days ago

There should be inspections at each phase of the build. When a house is built, the plumbing and electrical is inspected BEFORE the walls are closed up, that is how you SEE the problem. And all plumbing systems should be run with water and pressure tested. It is unbelievable that someone would sell you a product that floods the first time you use the shower or flush the toilet, etc.

Abe Loughin
23 days ago

As a retired rv technician, I applaud the idea of the third party quality inspection. If the defects are caught and repaired prior to shipping, then dealership service centers will be able to provide faster, more efficient and more profitable services to their customers. If the technician is compensated on a flat rate basis, he/she will also make more money as warranty does not pay a fair rate. It may also alleviate the “you didn’t buy here so we can’t/ won’t service your unit.” And it is no surprise to me that Grand Design and Winnebago are on-board with this program, they, along with Tiffen, have been leaders in customer service for a long time.

Bob
24 days ago

Small companies do it best not to demean the US companies but there are 3 at least small Canadian companies where the wait time for new units are almost 2 years. It seems their quality control is excellent. Not perfect but better than most. One problem is they only make smaller units and most of the companies in the US are large and turn out alot of inventory. But there are also small US companies that make a better overall product, so small does seem to be better.

Thomas D
24 days ago

That sure would have a good idea. When i bought my new fiver there were 17 items wrong with it . A forgotten gland on a water pipe that flooded the floor including carpeting. A gas line feeding the regulator that leaked ( can you say boom?) The drain in the shower pan not tight. I could go on but we’ve all been there. What will they do with the defective rv? Sent it back or will they fix it. Do they work only for the manufacturer or me after i bought the piece of crap?

Chuck S
24 days ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Wow only 17 items. At the end of 3 months we had over 100 items on our list. By the end of that first year, and warrantee, we probably had over 150. I stopped counting around 100. We spent more of our first year and a half at the dealer and factory then we spent away from them. Now, after 4 years, we still have items that have not been fixed. When we bought we were and still are full timers. Unfortunately we could not afford to sell this rig and buy another. Responsibility is the only thing that will improve manufacture quality. Until the manufacturers take responsibility for their products and care about and show RESPECT for their end customers quality will not change.

Jeff Arthur
24 days ago

Sorry had to laugh at this one. Considering the reputation of the company mentioned.

Grant Carroll
24 days ago

While the concept is certainly a step in the right direction, and much needed, there is still the issue that they are looking out for themselves and their bottom line. There are no issues with that of course, it’s business. But consider who these people at the inspection facility are working for. They are working for the dealership who, again, is protecting their bottom line. Inspections are needed on new and used coaches. But they should be performed by INDEPENDENT inspectors, not inspectors hired by the dealership. As an independent inspector in the great Pacific NW, I have absolutely no vested interest one way or the other if you as a client decide to move forward with the purchase or not.

So while I commend General RV for taking a step in the right direction and for seeing the need for inspections, these inspectors are still working for them, not the customer.

If you are looking for a coach and would like an independent inspection, you can go to https://nrvia.org/locate/.

California Travel Videos
23 days ago
Reply to  Grant Carroll

Many thank Grant! Four years ago when I purchased a insurance from Wholesale Warranty, they provided an excellent mechanic who went through my new purchase with me and give me an excellent education along the way. Great to have a link to help other – excellent info.
Happy Trails,
Michael

Joe
24 days ago

Could this be the fox watching the hen house. I wonder how particular they will be for units being delivered to General RV versus other dealers.

Sometime after we purchased our current motorhome we got a tour of the factory. The person giving the tour was ecstatic that they could assemble it in 5-6 days (most sections were already built but just need to be assembled). What we witnessed was some people literally running from point to point and others at a fast walking pace (very unsafe). Tools, hoses, and power cords every where, dust, debris, screws and etc. we bought a higher end motorhome hoping for a better unit but we still ended up with leaks from drains, washing machine and AC air flow issues to name a few. My response to the tour guide was no wonder we are back here for warranty repairs.

Mark
25 days ago

Not that I don’t trust General rv but I don’t. I have not been able to get anything fixed by them in at least 5 years. Not only do they not fix what it was brought in for they broke something else in the process.

A Goodwin
24 days ago
Reply to  Mark

One experience with General was enough.

ron
25 days ago

it’s a shame that manufacturers won’t take the time to build a quality unit at the factory. The cost is always more the 2nd. 3rd, 4th and 5th times..

Rosy
25 days ago

Not a fan of General RV! A total failure of our front landing jacks while in Moab lead to us calling General RV in Salt Lake City. That was July and the first available appointment was in December! As for why is an after build inspection needed before dealer delivery, seems General RV found an idea and ran with it. Nothing more than a moneymaking scheme that manufacturers will use as a selling point. And where will General RV find inspectors? Likely the local population of job seekers who previously worked at the local manufacturing facility doing line inspections! And if General RV certifies an RV that later is found to have a defect, does the manufacturer perform the repair or push it over to General RV? And y’all thought Camping World was a bad thing!

Jerry W
24 days ago
Reply to  Rosy

I second that! After buying a new 2020 Jayco 34RSBS from General RV in Mt. Clemons MI, several items were missed in the “pre delivery process (most notably the stove pilot would not stay lit). Had to set up a service appointment for some 6 weeks later. Upon arrival was told it would still be another 2 weeks before they even got to it. When asked , the service manager basically (rather rudely) said the appointment was not a guarantee they would work on it but merely a place to “get in line for a service bay”. So 3 more weeks passed before they said all was fixed. During the pick up, I asked to light the stove to make sure it was resolved. Still would not light. Response? Guess we will have to order another part (3 more weeks). Left and took it a local guy who adjusted the thermocouple and all was good. Never been back to GRV since. Hope they do a better job at this new venture, though I doubt it. Just another way to make more money.

Sink Jaxon
24 days ago
Reply to  Jerry W

This is what is so infuriating with these people!! Their pat answer is the same, “we have to wait for the part”. It seems the techs are not qualified to analize anything or perform a diagnostic, they just replace “parts”. Apathy plays a big role in causing these fails.😠

Ray
25 days ago

This is good news. While after-the-fact inspection won’t instill quality in the current product and will increase costs, the statistical analysis of their findings in current products should lead to better practices back at the factory. I hope those findings are successful in re-instilling some quality manufacturing back into the mass-produce sector of the industry. I would not begrudge Grand Design and Winnebago for stepping up to the plate and taken on some third party review. Done right, this could save the customer and industry much angst and money in the long run. Thanks RVtravel, please follow up on this endeavor.

Dan
25 days ago

I learned many things about new vehicles before I retired from my business serving automotive shops, including new car dealerships. All manufacturers paid the dealer for a pre-delivery inspection before a new vehicle is sold. Generally speaking imports required no or few services to be ready to sell. Do the inspection, move the floor mats from the trunk to the interior, and it’s ready to sell. Domestics nearly always required multiple services, adjustments, fluids, etc., which paid the technicians pretty well. Doing PDI’s in a domestic dealership was the gravy work. Regardless, the new vehicles were not ready to sell before the completed PDI. If there was an issue missed before the sale it came back on the technician that should have caught it and then he got to do it for free or be docked for his inspection time. After reading the horror stories here about new RV issues, I have to believe there is no inspection before the sale. Ya pays your money, ya rolls the dice.

Rob
25 days ago
Diane Fox
25 days ago

It seems ridiculous to me that a second party would be needed to do the job the manufacturer’s quality control department should be handling! And, to highlight the obvious, this is just going to tack an additional expense on the price of the unit. Now, who do you suppose will shoulder that additional expense?

Kirk Pfeffer
25 days ago
Reply to  Diane Fox

If manufacturers were spending the hours they should in inspection, who do you think would be paying the associated costs? You would.

WEB
25 days ago
Reply to  Kirk Pfeffer

But the idea would be then they can ‘fix’ the lazy employee and the problem goes away. You keep it in-house and the extra costs would go down with fewer problems.
As it is, the manufacturer keeps pumping out the problems that others have to fix.

Would a hotel hire outside help to vacuum the room if the maid would fail to do it?

A Goodwin
24 days ago
Reply to  Diane Fox

Unfortunately, most Quality Control managers report to the Production Plant Manager. Needs to go to above the plant manager.

Diane Mc
24 days ago
Reply to  A Goodwin

Agree. Not like this in hi tech. Or at least the companies where I worked. Quality was a separate organization on equal level with Production, Materials & Mfg Engr reporting to VP of Manufacturing.

Michael
24 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

100% correct.

Diane Mc
24 days ago
Reply to  Diane Fox

Exactly. Worked 30 yrs in hi tech manufacturing as head of Production Control & Materials. Do it right the first time. Why would a company pay another company to find its defects. Put quality control into the process. Then move to making the production workers responsible for quality of their portion of the build. Realize RV manufacturers aren’t high volume, repetitive builds, so can’t use much automation, but they should visit some other industries manufacturing plants to get ideas on how quality is built into the product as it moves thru production. Not after. Can’t imagine the money lost fixing production errors, sometimes many times over as we often read here. Where are the bean counters (I was one at various times in my career) pointing out the excess warranty costs?

Michael
25 days ago

I have been in aviation manufacturing for over 30 years. You cannot inspect quality into a product. Quality starts with the employees building the product. It doesn’t help when the company is pushing cost and schedule over safety and quality.

Lance Craig
25 days ago
Reply to  Michael

You are absolutely correct. After-build inspections will not catch many of the hidden problems. This “quality inspection” is cosmetic, providing a false assurance that the rv is better. Until demand drops for junk rvs, nothing will change.

Tim Pittman
25 days ago

I can’t understand why the manufactures themselves can’t do this. Why hire some 3rd party outfit to quality control your product when you as the manufacturer are the most familiar with the product you just built.

Gary BOGART
24 days ago
Reply to  Tim Pittman

I agree with Tim and Lance

Jim
25 days ago

Hmm, will this mean, the manufactuer workers will get lazier? Knowing that some one else will take care of issues?

Henry
25 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Or get fired for repeated poor quality output.