We polled RVtravel.com 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.”
First, here’s the poll question, and the results we received as of Thursday, August 31.
Adding 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.”
As 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.