Thursday, September 21, 2023


On RV quality, our readers say, “Older is better”

We polled readers: “How would you describe the quality of workmanship on your RV?” After hearing countless complaints about the kinds of issues rolling down RV assembly lines, some of us figured we already knew the answer. Maybe we were wrong. Or maybe those who responded to the poll were just a fraction of RVers. While the poll itself surprised some of us, the comments left told an interesting story. When comparing RV manufacturing workmanship, it seems “older is better.”

Poll results

First, here’s the poll question, and the results we received as of Thursday, August 31.

older is betterAdding up the stats, more than half of those responding said their rigs were either “Very good” or “Excellent,” in terms of having quality manufacturing. Again, it threw us for a loop when one considers the piling up of negative comments and complaints that we see every week. In fact, one reader questioned the results with this comment: “This survey appears to be 180 degrees out from all the complaints we have heard about all these years. Did only happy people respond to this survey?”

More to be found in comments than numbers?

But then we started looking at the comments readers left behind. Here’s a typical example from “Alpenliter,” who write, “My 2002 Born Free is excellent. Tight as the day it left the factory. Alas, the factory is now closed. This coach will probably outlast me, but my granddaughter already has spoken for it!” And this one from Rick: “I bought a 2008 Excel 30RSO about three years ago. Everything on the rig still works perfectly fine. Too bad they went out of business in 2009. The rig is all fiberglass and well-insulated. My only issue now is that the age keeps some parks from letting me reserve a spot. Most of them do allow me to stay once they see how clean and well-kept it looks.”

Let’s see, a 2002 and a 2009 year model. We went back into the comments and did a little scratching. Not everyone told us the year of their rig in the comments, and not everyone gave us a “grade,” as was done in the poll. So we tried to be as objective as we could and came up with some new data. For model years 2021 through 2023, we came up with 10 comments. Of those, six were favorable toward their rigs, and four not-so-happy. Older is better?

Twenty-three model years say older is better!

But going back in time some 23 model years (1994 to 2017—no comments left for 2018 to 2020) we drew these results. Twenty-six favorable comments came in, versus only two which might be labeled as negative. Looking at the years, we have to quote our own Diane McGovern, who responded to a reader with this observation: “Judging by the comments, it looks like most of the voters have pre-pandemic RVs.”

older is betterAs much as we’d like to, there just seems to be too little information to draw a firm conclusion. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic on March 11, 2020. During the pandemic, the RV industry saw some of its heaviest production. Rushing to meet the demand of folks who were tired of being housebound and locked out from regular indoor recreational pursuits, perhaps the industry really gave up any hope of building a quality rig. Your guess is as good as ours.

A few more reader comments

In any event, we’ll leave you with a few other comments we received. Just looking, though, it really does seem that for most, older is better!

“2002 Newmar Dutch Star. 250K miles. Excellent. Just made a comment under the review of the new Kountry Star with an MSRP of $430K. No comparison in our minds. So glad we made the decision to keep it until we are done RVing.” —Diane M.

“There’s an interesting theme here. Notice how the 2018 and older owners are pretty content but not much said from those with newer? Polling anomaly or something else? We own a 2023 Forest River Georgetown. Quality is ‘fair.’ Miles and miles of birdnest wiring to feed the camp rats is my biggest angst.” —Vince S.

“We have lived and full-time in our 1984 Blue Bird Wanderlodge PT36 for 20 years now. Updated some engine parts, but haven’t had to do anything involving repairs on the inside. Very well built with the finest wood and fixtures at that time. No leaks, no squeaks, no slides. Will be living and traveling in it till we can’t drive it anymore. Will then live in it parked until we die. The other brands we look at are junk compared to the Blue Bird. Too bad when the economy went to hell in 2009. They quit making the RV models and now just make school buses.” —Bluebird Bob

“1998 Roadtrek D190P model with 230K miles on it. Built like a tank! I expect it will still be traveling, and camping long after I’m gone. [My] 2007 29′ Wildcat TT is ‘good’ quality, but has spent its life in a campground. If it had half the miles of the Roadtrek, it would just be a trail of parts scattered along the way.” —Sven Y.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


  1. We have been happy with our 2022 Newmar New Aire 3545. Most of the issues have been minor, cosmetic even. We also seem to have received a welcome but completely undeserved blessing from the service team we were assigned ahead of our first warranty-service visit to Nappanee. Both techs who have worked on our coach have inspired our confidence and respect. We are of the opinion that whatever short-comings our coach had when shipped to our dealer have been fixed to a higher standard than the initial build had. That is, standard parts (ie., New Aire parts) have been replaced with premium parts (i.e., King Aire parts). We have no thought of ever trading this coach. It has all we want and it is fully ours; no outstanding loan amount. 🙂 We do recommend and endorse Newmar rigs, especially the diesels and “luxury” rigs. 🙂

  2. We spend 6 months in AZ. in our 2003 Tiffin Allegro Bus. In the 10 years that we’ve owned it, the only thing that needed replaced was the refer cooling unit. Other than that, only a few very minor things like drawer slide brackets and a pocket door bracket needed repaired. Every winter in our park, I hear tons of complaints from people with the rigs much newer than ours. We will stick with older is better.

  3. We purchased our first & only RV, a 2004 Tiffin Allegro Open Road motorhome, 11 years ago. As it approaches 20 years old & 90k miles we have contemplated buying a replacement, but it is difficult to justify, considering the increasing costs of RVing and the high price of a replacement. Our 2004 motorhome continues to perform very well and does everything we need it to. So, we are keeping it.

  4. People we meet along the road draw a quality line at 2008. Many companies folded or were sold amidst that financial boondoggle. By my estimation, quality before 2008 wasn’t all that good. Unless you were spending $1M.
    Ours is 2005. First two years were hell. I learned to fix everything above the chassis, and DID.

  5. I’d like to see a shift away from the use of laminate and particle wood and go back to more traditional hardwood interiors. A rig that is built more solid (that is, heavier) is more valuable to me than anything “half-ton towable” and flimsy. I want it to last! Have no problem with the appliances, electronics, plumbing, or overall design on the newer models…..but they all seem to be built of paper thin materials. I travel for work and spend significantly more time in mine than anyone else I know. Camping in a RV is completely different than living in one. I guess what I’m saying is that it would be nice to see one built with the structural integrity and quality of my stick-built house…..but I know that’ll only happen if I build it myself. The manufacturers certainly won’t!

    • I’m sure you can get something custom built. If you can afford it. But no, the manufacturers aren’t going to produce something they can’t sell. The reason RV’s are cheaply made is because cheap is what people want.

  6. I suggest that categorizing RVs as “pre-pandemic” belies the original cause for the trend toward cheapening construction practices. Quality was on its way out before the pandemic. The pandemic just hurried it along. I suggest the better measure is “pre-conglomerate”. Prior to being taken over, family-owned RV manufacturers had a bit of pride riding in every RV they turned out. The first thing conglomerates do is insert cost-cutting measures to increase profits. This is often detrimental to quality.

    • Just stop. “Conglomerates” produce things they can sell. If people were willing to pay more, they’d get more. But if you want the cheapest rig on the lot, that’s exactly what the “conglomerates” are going to give you…

  7. We have a 2017 Winnebago Class B campervan. While not perfect, we’ve been very pleased with it’s quality. The sheer number of problems reported by new owners in our FB group on all things minor to major is very disappointing. Yes, the Class B segment has grown a lot over the years, but the severity of issues has also worsened. Complete electrical power system failures requiring months of downtime, generator breakdowns and near daily reports of unexpected awning deployments are just a few of the most common ones. Ours is old now with over 100K miles on the clock. That’s ok though. This was our first ever RV, and we’ve made many great memories with it. It will also be our last.

  8. We have a 99 fleetwood bounder. We live in it full time and we love it. We are doing remodeling to update the look, but overall not many issues. We have been talking about getting a newer r.v but i’m so afraid to because I have had professionals tell me not to get anything built after covid due to the demand and that the companies are just rushing them through and worrying about how they were built later on.

  9. So I have a question, if you had a time machine and were able to go back to 2002 and ask the owner of a 2001 model what they thought, what do you think they would say? Memories are short and all the kinks in an older model have been worked out for years or decades so of course they are going to seem so much better if they are still around. The same thing applies to cars; models people didn’t like in the 70’s and 80’s are becoming collectors and more desirable for no reason, other than nostalgia.

    • Our 1999 SunnyBrook is significantly better than the RVs I’ve seen in shows. Those however are targeted at a much lower price point i.e. no solid wood cabinets, lower quaity beds, showers, etc.

      It is what you pay for in my opinion.

  10. We bought a 1989 Holiday Rambler Alumilite in 1999 for $2000. It was cheap due to age but hardly used and of excellent quality. When we upgraded to a 2012 Open Range we kept the ’89 at the lake for our kids to use. The Open Range developed delamination issues-sold it and bought our 37’ Excel fifth wheel. Beautiful finish inside solidly built but 2 of the 4 slides (4’x 13’ and 5’x16’) ongoing issues that can’t be resolved (we’ve spent $15,000 trying). Plus fuel is currently too expensive for traveling. So we’re exchanging places with the ’89 Holiday Rambler and going back on the road with it. Much better build quality and NO SLIDES!!!

  11. Why couldn’t you just accept the results of your poll and the fact that over half are more than satisfied. Unless you requested and received a comment from everyone your trying to use the comments to make a point is skewed by your own bias. Comments are just that and not a true indicator of the polling question. I have a 21 Keystone Cougar 5er that was and has been great since we bought it new, and it was built in October 2020. But I guess you really don’t want to acknowledge your poll results and continue to perpetuate a false image that unless you bought your rig a long time ago it is probably going to be crap.

  12. We have a 1999 Fleetwood Bounder 39z DP
    No major issues just tires and probably going to need house batteries but no complaints
    Older is better
    We have friends that have newer rigs that constantly working on theirs or taking them back for repairs.
    I vote for Older

  13. I currently own a 2018 fifth wheel. My previous RV was a 1994 TT. I have done more repair work on the 2018 model in the 6 years I’ve owned it than I did on the 1994 TT during the 24 years I owned it!

  14. We have been happy with our two Lance Trailers. One was a ‘pre Covid’ 2016 1995. The other is our current 20211985. Only very minor issues, that were corrected under warranty on both. And one, in our 2021 was taken care of (due to extenuating circumstances), out of warranty by our awesome dealership Nature & Me RV in Traverse City, MI

    Maybe a lot of the people who claim “poor quality” are those newbies who thought getting into camping was a good idea during the pandemic, and had no idea what they were doing…maintenance-wise…and instead they blamed it on poor quality?

    • Good point. Perspective is very important and without a lot of demographic info on the respondents, you can only take this poll for face value.

    • Congratulations on buying from Lance – a company that is well known for a history of focusing on building quality products. Excellent decision on your part. Most of those who claim “poor quality” are not buying Lance campers.


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