Thursday, September 21, 2023


When these RVers picked up their RV from the shop, the dealer didn’t even reconnect the brakes… and that’s just the start of it

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 

Here’s what you had to say:

Reader puts ALL the blame on the buyer

Bluebird B. suggests the buyer do research before buying. He writes, “I put ALL the blame on the buyer. They don’t do any investigation before they put down their hard-earned money. Yes, most of the RVs made are crap, but it’s the customer’s fault. Jeeze, how hard is it to go online and do a little looking before buying? By the way, we have a 1984 Bluebird Wanderlodge for the last 20 years that takes us around the country full-timing. They just make school buses now and you know how safe those have to be. How about doing a little research and not looking at the pretty kitchen counter thinking it must be good quality.”

Mobile tech best move he could have made

Mike M. hoped for quick service but after cancellation found a great mobile tech. He says, “We bought our 2020 Grand Design locally with the hopes of getting prompt service when needed. After a 2-month wait, the service was canceled by the dealer due to the pandemic. We were referred to a local mobile technician, Mark Gerber, which turned out to be the best move we could have made. The repairs/installations were small but done timely, correctly, for a reasonable price, and in our driveway. Watching the first work being done we were so impressed that now we email Mark to complete the service whether we are home or not and send the bill. We got the right guy!”

Most problem-free RVs ever owned and praises the dealer

Vince  B. is very pleased with the dealer he bought from. He writes, “I currently own a 21′ Durango D301RLT bought new the summer of 2020. To date, this unit has been one of the most problem-free units I have owned. I’ve had one major problem with the unit: delamination of the siding under the bedroom slide. My dealer (Kings Campers of Wausau, WI) started the warranty claim. I sent a multitude of pictures of the area that KZ requested. It was determined that the unit had to be sent back to Kings Camper for repair. We agreed on a date, Kings Camper provided transportation to and from my home. The unit was picked up on Oct. 22, 2022, and returned on Nov. 22, 2022.

“Cause of the problem was determined to be an improperly installed slide. I was very pleased with the way the dealer and Kings Camper handled my problem. Does the RV industry need to be held to a higher standard? Yes! But until that happens, I believe the experience one has with owning an RV of any sort will be determined by the dealership!”

Horrible experience all around…

Ken M. is never going back to an RV service center; he even got certified as an RV inspector/technician. He writes, “We purchased a new 2018 Redwood 3991RD. Within 100 miles of delivery, the rear axle broke, the springs separated and three leaves were missing. The axle separated from the springs with the tire rubbing on the landing gear!!! The rear cap also broke away from the mounting brackets.

“We had a promise from Redwood that they would PAY ‘ALL’ of our expenses; two months in a hotel!! $15,000.00 and we never received a PENNY!!! ExploreUSA also needs to be RUN OUT OF BUSINESS!!! When we picked up the RV, they had not ever bothered to reconnect the brakes!!!

“They were also authorized to replace the tires! They put tire dressing on the OLD tires and told me they had been replaced! I had recorded the serial number on the tires and the tire that had rubbed on the landing gear hadn’t even been replaced… It actually had a bulge on the inside sidewall!

“I pray the general manager ‘Richard’ at ALL ExploreUSA stores is living under a bridge somewhere!!! He is the biggest AXEhole I’ve ever dealt with!!! That was just the beginning of ALL the nightmares we have had with the THOR Redwood! I have a 176-page inspection report with ALL the issues we have with the Redwood! The Redwood and ExploreUSA are SO BAD, I went and got certified as an RV Inspector/Tech. I will never return to ANY RV dealership or purchase ANYTHING built by THOR!!!!!”

Gladly took a $10,000 loss

Tom S. had nothing but problems with his RV and was glad to get rid of it. He tells us, “Early in 2020 we bought a new Thor motorcoach, right when COVID was blossoming into everyone’s consciousness. Unfortunately, the new coach had plenty of problems, including a water heater that didn’t work and a pinhole leak in a water line. The taillights never worked right and the trailer plug wiring was completely messed up.

“The shower drain led to the black water tank, as did the kitchen sink drain. The leaking water line was the worst because it quietly sprayed water all over the inside of the kitchen sink/drawer cabinetry, resulting in rot and mold. In two years, we had about three months available to use the unit. The rest of the time it sat at the dealer, waiting for parts. We sold it back and I gladly took a $10,000 loss to get rid of it. Moral: Don’t buy new from an assembly-line kind of manufacturer.”

Expected a trash unit and a year out should be reliable

Lyle S. would have bought used but his wife wanted new. He writes, “Your mileage may vary. I bought a 2022 Cherokee Limited 27′ with a full rear kitchen. Our first run was a 3,800-mile 10-day jaunt across the country. We really only had three quality-related issues that we found on that trip. First, the pantry shelves were so poorly designed and assembled that anything heavier than a roll of paper towels was destined to destroy the shelves. Second, the shower stall wasn’t caulked at all and leaked into the floor. Third, outside caulking was also poorly done and while we didn’t spring any leaks, we did have A/C drains plugged with caulk along with a bunch of bad gaps that we had redone.

“I KNEW that we would be facing poor quality coming out of the factory and paid the dealer to ensure everything was fixed BEFORE our first outing and STILL found all those items during our normal use while staying in it. Repairs have not been terribly pricey, so I’m not too upset, but EXPECTED a trash unit that would have to be inspected and repaired before and after a first trip based on my research before buying. I would have bought used from a private seller, but my wife insisted on a new unit, so I simply planned to fix stuff and forced a solid warranty out of the dealer so they could deal with anything we found in that first year. Now that that is over, I feel that we now have a reliable travel trailer. Hopefully, we’ll enjoy many more years of not staying in hotels.”

Too many horror stories—having second thoughts

John B. is nearing retirement and tells us he is having second thoughts about an RV: “I am getting closer to retirement with the desire to eventually get an RV, but the horror stories that I keep reading are making me have second thoughts. Too much money to be invested in a product that is half-ass. Too much time and money to repair. It’s like buying a horse for the sport of it while losing money on it.”

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

We’ll continue to 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.

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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.


  1. It’s no secret parts designed to reduce weight and cost trade off durability and reliability. That said, it’s what our lifestyle entails even though every one of us masochistic optimists didn’t think it could be *that* bad.

    That said, for every day of joy in an RV, there’s a day of suffering and both types of days often come in bunches.

    Bad days will always come but it’s the investment we make in the good days that dictate which stories are worth telling.

    Think of your worst experience in your RV and then ask if it was worse then your best one. Bad days can be expensive and stressful but to wake up within the most beautiful scenery in the world simply cannot be priced……

  2. I would think one of the problems is due to little oversight and regulation of the RV manufacturer’s industry? Your basically buying a truck chassis and engine that has then been transformed into a condo on wheels. Modified and extended frames, then you build a house out of 1×2 lumber and cardboard utilizing the cheapest components and fixtures available (don’t worry there’s no crash test) and sell it to the gullible public who assume that because it’s pretty it must be quality? If it just sat there it might last a few seasons before rotting away, but when driven thousands of miles a year over bumpy road’s and driveways then it’s gonna fall apart. Expect that!!! Caveat Emptor!!!

  3. I don’t agree with Bluebird B. I do a lot off research and don’t see a lot of negative reviews or comments in forums. Yes there are some, but not always enough indicating consistent problems. I always appreciate RVTravel reader telling us about there problems with their RV’s.

  4. The fact that Thor is still in business, and growing, is testament to the fact that billions of dollars can be made by focusing on the gullible.

  5. In the 70s, there was a car buying rule that said, “never buy a car made on a Friday afternoon or Monday “. Reason..Monday’s had the worst absenteeism rate…the guy that normally installed seats was moved to the windshield install line and Friday afternoon because the local bars cashed pay checks and served copious amounts of “a shot and a beer” lunches. I wonder is there is a similar “rule” for the RV industry??

  6. So glad Bluebird is here to make the rest of us feel like fools. I would like to know how he would advise those who have problems inside of components, or in un-inspectable places, to know up front! Perhaps he has some X-ray equipment that allows him to see what the rest of the world cannot?

    Yes, by all means do your homework. Look at brand groups and blogs to see how owners of specific products fare after the sale. I agree that this should not be an on-a-whim decision.

    I also see a bright future for Bluebird as a pre-purchase inspector — with a 100% guarantee that he can predict every flaw or money-back!

    • Yeah, I read Bluebird B’s comment and thought “Who says stuff like that?” I wish we could all be as smart as Bluebird B. LOL!

      • I once thought I made a mistake,but I was wrong.
        I work with a guy thats so smart I’d never question ANYTHING he says or does. Basicly about any subject.

  7. Amazing how these horror stories seem to be involving certain brands. Do you hear me, Thor and Forest River? Rushing the assembly process guarantees problem. Why is there not time to do it correctly, but time for the buyer to do it again.

    • Certainly not just Thor or Forest River… I had many of that same (and several different) problems with my 2022 Gulf Stream travel trailer listed in the July 16, 2023 edition of this column. I’ve done many repairs and (in our opinion) necessary mods, and I think I have the kinks worked out. The latest was just intuition – had the bearings repacked after only 6,000 miles. Sure enough, damaged rear seals and barely enough grease to allow the wheels to spin.

    • Over time, we learned to do two extra checks.
      1. Check the NHTSA recall list. Avoid the names you see popping up frequently.
      2. Join blogs and social media groups for the brand/model you are considering. Follow them for awhile and check the Archives to see what actual owners of those models are saying.


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