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 RVtravel.com.
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.”
Note from RVtravel.com: 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.
Last week’s RV Service Centers and Repairs Report: