Saturday, December 9, 2023


Forest River says these issues are ‘normal and to be expected’ with RVs. NOPE!

In this column, we summarize some of your emails and comments regarding RV service centers and repairs (we asked you to submit your stories here). We’ll tell you all: the best, the good, the bad and the ugly. At the end of this article, you’ll find a place to submit your own comments. I encourage you to do so.

Keep in mind, we typically only present one side of the story in most of these. Also, any remarks about service centers and mobile techs mentioned are the opinions of our readers and not necessarily 

This week there were a lot of messages about the RV manufacturers, poor-quality RVs and service, and a lack of documentation.

Here’s what you had to say:

Flying blind during repairs

John M. wants some sort of documentation. He writes: “My issue with RV construction quality is the utter lack of documentation and schematics available in new RVs. My wife and I can be handy with repairs and upgrades, but we usually are flying blind during repairs.

“We’ve spent quite a bit on new rigs and each time we get no comprehensive diagrams on where things like plumbing and electrical are located or how they work. Where’s the inverter? What’s the configuration of the sewer lines? What size are plumbing connections? Nothing from the manufacturer. Online resources are sketchy at best. Auto manufacturers couldn’t get away with not providing owners’ manuals; how can RV manufacturers? My wife also wants to mention the lack of quality in RV furniture; never sat on an RV couch that was worth a damn.”

Race to the bottom

Michael K. writes about production lines pushing out poor quality. He says, “I used to work in a business where we made things that were about the same price as an RV. There, I learned that ‘quality is free,’ but from what I’ve heard not a single RV manufacturer has learned this. Instead, they have designs that are on paper and cheap to produce. The production lines push out poorly assembled units with no effort at quality control and then make their dealers into their final assembly area. That’s all made worse by how the ‘Big 3’ companies are consolidating soooo many brands in their race to the bottom. Someday, some entrepreneur will figure out how to eat everyone else’s lunches by making more aerodynamic rigs that are designed for assembly and won’t incur all the rework costs.”

Fire the incompetents

Frank R. has a long list of things not right from the beginning with his RV. He tells us: “I agree 100% with your statement about RV companies building a product they know has problems. Last year’s purchase of a new Forest River Grey Wolf 23MK had nothing but issues from day one.

“Only being used twice at the beginning of the season, it sat in the dealership parking lot for most of the summer. The slide-out stopped working, the outside panel was not siliconed properly, which lead to water damage inside. Outside marker lights stopped working. Both black and grey waste valves are still leaking. Overall poor quality and workmanship throughout the whole trailer. Many messages to Forest River and Lippert got me nowhere.

“They are both blaming each other for the problems. The incompetent morons who are responsible for customer service should all be fired. I’ll be selling this piece of crap and never buy a Forest River jalopy ever again.”

Hold RV manufacturers to building standards

Ted P. sees that even the more expensive RVs are not built to any sort of standard. He says: “I hate to tell you this but even the $100K RVs are built with little compliance to any sort of standard. Lipstick seems to be the only thing they are concerned with. If you look in the basement you will find the electrical wire just strung like spaghetti all willy-nilly. It would never pass any electrical standards. The plumbing is not much better with pipes being held up by twist ties and a few screws. The RV industry should have to be held to existing house building standards and government certification.”

No pride in their work

Rosa A. bought an RV to be close to her husband in the hospital. It was a waste of money. She writes, “I bought a little 20-foot tow-behind in November of ’22. An Olympic by Jayco. The trailer was brand-new. My husband is at heart end stage and this trailer was for me to stay as close to the hospital as I could. To save me from driving a two-hour drive every day.

“Well, that was the most costly waste of money I have ever spent. It was 29 degrees and I had no heat, the shower leaked because it was not sealed, the electricity wouldn’t work because the tester plug burnt. The warranty would not cover it unless the trailer went to the place I bought it.

“Finally, I called a guy who took it because he couldn’t work on it at the RV park. So I had to go to a hotel. Cost me $2,000 dollars for the hotel, to fix the heater and water leak. I did the rest myself. I decided to travel to visit family. By the time I got there, both sides of the trailer fenders were falling off. And now I still have to pay a mortgage. The people who built this thing have no pride in their work and the sellers don’t care once it goes out the door. I wonder if I could sue them.”

Only one good RV in a sea of failures

Bob C. mentions the poor manufacturers’ workmanship but one RV manufacturer built with quality. He writes. “We have purchased numerous travel trailers over the years from various manufacturers. All but one of them suffered very poor workmanship and water leaks. Poor assembly, poor materials, nothing installed straight, poor sealing, missing parts, etc. Only one manufacturer produced a quality trailer that lasted. Taylor Coach was able to produce and support a quality product because the owner (Brad Taylor) and his son perform the assembly work themselves.”

They know but don’t care

Mark M. got the dealer to buy back his trailer but lost $9,000. He emailed this: “Worst experience as a consumer in my life: Purchased a Salem (Forest River) FSX 169RSK last year. The first time out, the slide stuck and would not deploy. Vacation ruined. Took it to the dealer, and they (Trailer Source in Grand Junction, CO) ‘repaired’ it by replacing a 1″x2″ wood support with a 2″x4”.

“There were numerous other issues with the unit, including a leaking water pump, no water pressure for hot water, and the typical non-closing door/cabinets. Took the unit out again and slide again stuck, this time open! Finally got it semi-closed enough to travel. They claimed they got instructions from Forest River on how to address the problem. Three weeks later still no repair was completed.

“Forest River refused to speak with me. They said this kind of thing is normal and to be expected with an RV. I went to war with the dealer, and they finally agreed to buy back my near-new camper, that had never worked, for $9,000 less than I paid. I took the money and ran; I will never buy a new unit again. Forest River is run by people who know they make a crap product but they don’t care.”

Editor’s note

Note from If hiring a mobile tech, a small or mega service center, make sure that they are experienced in the issue and have insurance in case something goes wrong. Also, check their warranty policy on the work they perform. Check reviews too and read between the lines—if the review sounds way too good to be true it might be. Compare with several reviews and not just the ones on their website.

Questions for you about RV service

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share stories of your RV service experiences. We want to know:

  • Have you had good luck with great service or not so much?
  • Did you get good service from knowledgeable technicians?
  • Are you waiting to get into a service center or have a mobile tech come out?
  • What has been the average time to get an appointment?
  • Has your RV been in a service center for a while?
  • Are you able to get any mobile techs to come out?
  • Are the service centers able to get parts?
  • When you do get the repairs done, is the price reasonable?

Please fill out the form below and tell us what your experiences have been like. It can be a horror story, an opinion about what’s going on, a positive experience, or anything else related to the topic. We want to know the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Check back next week for more on RV service centers. See you then.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Last week’s RV Service Centers and Repairs Report:


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Chris (@guest_244539)
4 months ago

As a RV Tech, I take pride in my work. I do a good job, offer a unique niche service. Charge 80% of what service centers charge…. Yet I still get called expensive. Harassed by people who only want me to diagnose their issues over the phones for free. Told daily ‘I could have gotten that cheaper on Amazon’ over a $30 part. Expect to stand on my shoulder to ‘learn’ while hounding me with a 1000 questions while also bad mouthing every tech/salesman/rv shop they have ever come across… And they want it done RIGHT NOW and all under warranty which pays for a fraction of the actual job entails. My time calling, talking, paperwork I never get paid for. I’m seriously considering a new profession.

Kit Vargas (@guest_243523)
5 months ago

2021 Winnebago 5th wheel. So many problems they fill two sides of a note book sheet. OK, we can take care of most of them or our mobil tech does. BUT, one MAJOR issue (thousands of dollars in repair costs) and Winnebago denied the warranty claim citing lack of maintenance on our part. They never even asked for our maintenance records after we asked that the claim be reviewed. Even our service manager at the dealer and the dealer repair tech said they had never seen such shoddy workmanship or messed up construction. In good conscience we will never sell this RV to another person and what dealer in their right mind is going to want it for a trade? My husband just told me today our roof is bubbling. One more stressor to add to the pile. We’re just stuck!!!

Conni (@guest_243375)
5 months ago

In response to John M., I don’t know what brands you have had, but with our Jayco, we got a huge pouch that included the manuals for the TT and all the appliances, etc. Also I emailed them and received wiring and plumbing diagrams the same day. At this point, I honestly cannot complain.

Mike (@guest_243311)
5 months ago

My brother went through three new TT in about 18 months. First one spent more time in the shop than camping for that summer. After the first time out, little was fixed and more broke. They traded it on another TT. That one had a design flaw in the build that did not allow the propane fridge to draft the heat properly so the fridge would not cool below 50; the manufacturer had to buy it back. Third TT had a water leak in the slide out that was never repairable. He sold it and gave up camping. The side story is he bought a truck to tow the first one; traded the truck for a bigger one for the second one…

Lawrence Neely (@guest_243281)
5 months ago

Anyone remember the auto industry before the 1970’s. Reliability and quality was always lacking. Then the Japanese started to build low cost reliable cars with great quality. When the big 3 started losing sales to the Japanese did they start taking quality seriously. Not likely to happen in the RV industry, but sometimes it takes a kick in the pants. My TT is 2015 and I have had very few/minor issues over the years

Conni (@guest_243376)
5 months ago
Reply to  Lawrence Neely

“Then the Japanese started to build low cost reliable cars with great quality.” Our first Toyota in 1976 was a cheap tin can. It basically folded like an accordion when we were rear ended and pushed into another car, so I disagree about their “low cost reliable cars with great quality” in the 70’s.

david (@guest_243470)
5 months ago
Reply to  Lawrence Neely

Agree with you 100% Lawrence!

Thomas D (@guest_243269)
5 months ago

Rv’s are NOT homes such as row houses. These houses are alike in every way. Maybe 5 different models but each model exactly like it’s twin. Even then you’re not going to see diagrams. Just the builder will have those. It would be handy to include manuals with the appliances and furnishings with part numbers so getting a handle on repair would be easier. The assemblers work with what their given.. My last rv had staples that were only an 1/8″ to 3 /16 longer than the wood they penetrated. Really not the assemblers fault. Take away piecework and the incentive to hurry. AND have each and every unit inspected BEFORE it leaves the factory. Every aspect of it electric sewer water fit and finish. When these units don’t pass, they go back for rework. Things might change then.

Spike (@guest_243318)
5 months ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Winnebago (at least for their motorhomes) has a customer-accessable system where all kinds of diagrams (plumbing, electric, etc.) can be found. An excellent resource! Newmar also has such a system, but because they many times do customer requested build options, the diagrams may not exactly match a coach with customized options. Both companies provide a large quantity of manuals for the coach, chassis, appliances, and systems for use/reference of the customer.

Net…RV buyers need to get a LOT more educated before they plunk down big money on an RV. Stop looking at “bling” and find out more about how various brands are built, factory support in repairs and customer assistance, etc. Get the facts yourself from sources other than compensated industry “influencers” who care more about the payments they get than whether the buyer actually has a satisfactory experience!

Every brand can have issues, but they are not all the same in overall quality and after sale support.

Conni (@guest_243377)
5 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Nailed it. Ultimately it is the purchaser’s responsibility to do their own homework and NOT on Facebook.

Jack (@guest_243237)
5 months ago

Few years back I knew a couple brothers that built travel trailers. Their day required to build a certain number of units. If they could complete those in less than their 8 hour workday they still got paid for 8 hours work. Furthermore if they completed more units in 8 hours than required they were paid bonus/ overtime

Sandy W (@guest_243200)
5 months ago

Several years ago, I toured both the Winnebago factory and Born Free factory near Forest City on the same day. The difference in the manufacturing process was eye opening, to say the least. When the break time whistle blew, every Winnebago worker on the assembly line literally dropped what they were doing and sped away-no matter what they were in the middle of working on. In comparison, at every stage of construction, Born Free had a quality control employee check the finished work before the next stage was even started. Obviously, Born Free was much more expensive, but it’s a shame buyers no longer seem to have a choice in buying a quality built RV.

Last edited 5 months ago by Sandy W
Conni (@guest_243378)
5 months ago
Reply to  Sandy W

But in comparison – did the Born Free workers on the assembly line literally drop what they were doing and speed away-no matter what they were in the middle of working on??

Cookie P (@guest_243182)
5 months ago

I wonder how many of the people who post problems hired a certified RV inspector before purchasing their rig – either new or used. I know they are expensive but the information you get can give you bargaining power or knowledge on what needs to be fixed before you make the purchase.

Lonewolf (@guest_243250)
5 months ago
Reply to  Cookie P

This is almost a canned response you see on many forums, “hire a certified RV inspector”. My question is, who’s doing the certification, and if it is anything to do with the RV industry to start how good would that certification be? This isn’t like some agencies in the auto industry with many having to meet government standards. A case in point is RVIA, They act like they are the Certifying Agency for the industry that all safety aspect of your RV, such as electrical, propane, and water meet their standards for safety, and they charge the new rig buyer a ridiculous fee for the sticker by the door. In reality, they are a bunch of bums there to promote increased profits to the RV manufacturer.

Bob (@guest_243173)
5 months ago

I bought a 2016 Forest River 22RR toy hauler. First three problems: shower door was crooked and the bottom of the door rubbed. None of the door handles were straight. None of the cabinets were square. Dealer had the unit for two weeks and only replaced the sweep on the bottom of the shower door. Door still crooked. They told me all the cabinet doors would have to be replaced and Forest River would not cover the repair. The first time I pulled my motorcycle into the trailer, the ramp felt soft. Dealer said this was normal. Second time, one month out of warranty the ramp cracked down the center. The dealer told me “I” would have to contact FR. I did and they told me to contact the dealer. I did get a call from FR customer service after I threatened legal action. They told me the ramp was rated at 1500lbs, and I overloaded it. The motorcycle weighs less than 800lbs. The ramp was made by Lippert. I called Lippert and after sending pictures of the ramp, they agreed to replace the ramp.

Bob (@guest_243175)
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Addition to my post. Neither the dealer nor FR would cover the cost of the installation. The dealer quoted me a price of $600 for labor. I found another dealer, not FR, that did it for less than $300.
Two months later, I traded the trailer for another brand. So far, only minor things needed done.

Tom (@guest_243168)
5 months ago

Used is the way. The glamor is gone, and perhaps, the previous owner found and repaired the problems.

Lisa W (@guest_243243)
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom

Agreed. It’s also cheaper to buy so you can spend some $$ fixing any problems. I would never buy a new RV.

Spike (@guest_243320)
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom

You guys must not be reading above comments in the article where people having massive issues dumped that RV. Some other poor unsuspecting, uninformed buyer got stuck with it.

Hey..I hear ya and agree used RVs CAN be a good option. But nothing is guaranteed, so Buyer Beware! Do your due diligence…learn…verify!

MattD (@guest_243363)
5 months ago
Reply to  Spike

Spike, I think they mean used in terms of from a ‘private party’. Used from a dealer would be as much a disaster as new from a dealer.

Ron (@guest_243167)
5 months ago

Yes manufactures should be more concerned with quality but as long as people keep buying new units manufacturers won’t change their ways. Our 2016 Fleetwood Bounder had many problems when we bought it new in 2016. Fleetwood & I tried to get our dealer to fix the problems, but I finally had to fix some. Dealers want sell not fix RV’s. Fleetwood was great sending me all the manuals on my unit, but their manuals, especially the wiring diagrams were almost useless. Plus Fleetwood didn’t bother to mark everything, especially entertainment cables. Bottom line is as long as we buy RV’s, manufactures won’t change.

Dan (@guest_243153)
5 months ago

Reading the constant articles about new RV issues has convinced me that I will only buy used and NOT from a dealer. I’d rather roll the dice and buy ‘as is’ from the owner.

Vince S (@guest_243756)
5 months ago
Reply to  Dan

I respect that but a used RV is being sold for a reason and the reason is not always poor health of the owner.

Look at the buyer statistics of the past 5 years. A huge percentage of the new unit sales were not to retirees but rather younger, healthier folks. The popular story is the return to work from Covid but it’s not just that.

Most coach owners sell because they’re tired of constantly fixing stuff. Factory deficiencies, prior owner storage and use deficiencies or their own.

Recreational or full time, nobody wants “home projects” every time they turn the key but faith keeps them hoping they might get through the next outing without needing a bucket of tools.

The “let the other guy deal with it” approach is even riskier. Where’s the RV Repair school every original owner attended?

Most barely know how to drive yet used purchasers are buying campsite repairs and think that’s better?

Buying a used car is risky. Buying a used chassis that also has “rest stop repaired” plumbing, electrical, slides, awning, CANBUS connected accessories, generator, HVAC, hot water heater, fresh and waste water storage systems and a hundred thousand mechanical moving pieces? Yikes!

“Buy used” is what industry says to slow the depreciation. No screw has ever been invented that improves its torque with age and miles. Same thing with seals and just about everything else on the coach. They decay so buying deterioration thinking it’ll need less attention than a new coach with none at all is akin to buying a used tire and hoping for better than new mileage from it….

robert (@guest_243124)
5 months ago

My wife and I talk about getting a newer MH but every time we go look the ones out there have more problems than our 2006 National

Timothy (@guest_243120)
5 months ago

In October 2020, we bought a used 2012 Forest River 2900. After reading about all the problems with new units, I’m really glad we did. So far, no leaks and everything works.

Mike (@guest_243024)
5 months ago

“I’ll be selling this piece of crap and never buy a Forest River jalopy ever again.”

I would hope you would inform a potential buyer of ALL of the problems you have had and not blindside them….

Chris (@guest_244540)
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Hahahahahahaha nope! I guarantee you just like every customer I hear from ‘guy I bought it from said it had no issues… I’m really upset the roof is bad the a/c is bad the cooling unit on the fridge is bad… And now he won’t answer my calls… I knew I shouldn’t have paid it in cash.’

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