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Are RVers responsible for poor quality RVs?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Over the years we’ve heard from countless frustrated RVers. The story goes something like, “I bought a brand-new RV and hardly got to use it the first year. It spent most of the time getting repairs made, right from the start!” The rants about nearly every RV manufacturer are myriad. Yes, even RV dealers admit the quality of RVs they’re selling is often lousy, and they point the finger back at the manufacturers. But hang on, are RVers responsible, in part, for the junk being dumped on the market today?

RVtravel.com reader puts in his two bits

File Photo

When we started the RV Consumer Support series, we asked readers to share their RV problems with us. We’ve heard from lots of you, and we’re working our way through the issues. But one of the first emails we received was a thought-provoker from Mike W. He opened with this thought: “I have come to the conclusion that we, the RV owners, are a part of the lack-of-quality problem. We have come to expect and accept flaws from the factory or dealer as normal and to be expected.”

Yep, we’ve all heard the analogy: Your RV is nothing more than a big house, bouncing down the roadway. Of course, things are going to break, you just have to expect it! And it’s true, things do take quite a shaking, and things can break. But is it that way from the start? Here’s Mike’s take:

“As a former aircraft owner, when I bought an aircraft I expected it to be right, and would not even consider delivery if it was not. I cannot imagine me saying ‘I noticed the Navigation was not functioning properly. That’s OK. Deliver it and we will address it later.’ I guess the same thinking could then be applied to a loose wing? No, as an aircraft buyer, known issues were addressed before we accepted the aircraft.”

It starts at the walk-through

Are RVers responsible for some of the shoddy workmanship coming from Indiana, and other manufacturing states? The case could be made that we are, IF. If we do the walk-though on that brand-new (or “previously owned”) RV and we notice something isn’t right. If a buyer spots something that isn’t right and refuses to take possession, something’s going to happen. First, it will likely irritate the daylights out of the seller. If the seller gets enough irritation because he’s been delivered an RV by the factory that isn’t truly ready to sell, word will get back to the manufacturers. Next, it’ll probably get our problem fixed a whole lot quicker than if we went ahead and accepted delivery, figuring we could come back later for a fix. After all, who do you suppose will get quicker attention – the guy who the dealer already got the money from, or the one who the dealer is waiting for the payoff?

Granted, this isn’t going to cover those things that “happen” after you take delivery. Here’s what we heard from John K. A few days after taking delivery of his new Dynamax motorhome it began to rain. It was then that John discovered that the bedroom slideout seals had been installed backwards! John had to take the “Leakin’ Lena” back to the factory, where the seals were properly installed. But that didn’t end it. More problems turned up on subsequent outings – things that John says adequate quality control should have caught in the first place.

Do this when taking possession

Was John, as an RVer, responsible for this mess? Well, certainly not for the slide-out seals. But anytime we buy a rig, it really is OUR responsibility to do a thorough walk-though. Do ALL appliances work? Tell the dealer to turn on the fridge before you come for the walk-though. Did you turn off and on all the lights, all the electrical goodies? Have the dealer demonstrate the run-out and in of ALL slide-outs. Have the dealer hook water up to the rig – then test all water-using knick-knacks. And take a look in ALL cabinets and storage areas to ensure there’s no water running out where it shouldn’t.

In fact, you may be pumping a huge amount of money into the purchase of a new RV – some of which, as Mike W. says, “cost about the same” as an aircraft. That’s a mighty big investment, so why not drop just a fraction of what that new rig costs on another thing. Hire a qualified independent RV inspector to go over the unit before you take possession. If they find issues with the rig, turn their “punch list” over to the dealer. They can get their money – as soon as they fix the problems. Then MAKE SURE they really DID the repairs.

Even before the walk-through

When dealing with sales folks at the dealership, there are a couple of other things that can help. If RVers don’t want to be responsible for rubbish RVs, lay it on the line. Tell the salesman flat-out of your intention to have the unit inspected by an independent party prior to acceptance. If they balk, then walk.

How can you protect yourself against those things that seem to crop up AFTER you take possession? Here’s the advice from Ron Burdge, an attorney and RV lemon law activist. Burdge says there are nine words that should be handwritten, by the dealer, into any sales contract you sign. “We give buyer a 24-hour warranty against defects.” Why that phrase?

Yes, when you buy a new RV, the factory will be giving its own warranty, undoubtedly much longer than 24 hours. However, the statement binds the dealership into backing you up. And not just for 24 hours. Under federal law, in most states, such a statement forces the seller into an implied warranty of merchantability. In those states, the dealer is on the hook for taking care of the seller, not just for 24 hours, but for four YEARS. But, again, the dealer must write this into the contract.

We can make a difference

If enough RVers stand up against lousy quality control and poor RV workmanship, the manufacturers will hear. If they hear it enough, it may well be they’ll put a little more time into turning out better quality RVs.

And remember, if there’s something that you as an RV or RV-related consumer is having trouble with, let us know. Use the form below, and we’ll do what we can to help out.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Related

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Rob H.
14 days ago

Can’t agree with this article. If you look at a car, you expect it to work from the start. If it doesn’t, there’s are things called Lemon Laws, regulations that attempt to protect consumers in the event that they purchase a defective vehicle that don’t meet their purported quality or usefulness. Can’t say that about RVs… no lemon laws. That means manufacturers can do whatever they please and to hell with the consumer. Sorry, but when companies continually produce inferior products, that’s when the law should and must come into play.
Until manufacturers are held accountable for their substandard products, no consumer in the world can do a thing about it. And don’t say consumers can just stop buying RVs. That would be like saying the electricity we use seems to go out periodically so we just will stop buying electricity until that stops. It will never happen, and the manufacturers know it. It takes laws to prevent crime. And poor quality unsafe RVs are a crime.

Doug Fenbert
15 days ago

What I think would be helpful to consumers and the industry would be to require mandatory disclosures by RV manufacturers and dealers for all warranty repairs for each model sold. Similar reporting to what Consumer Reports does for automobile quality. At least visibility to this data would bring transparency to the quality levels of manufacturers and hopefully result in improved products. Your platform would be ideal for leading such legislation being created….

Keith Hall
15 days ago

I’m surprised that RV Travel would even print this article. Quality has to be built in from the start. It can not be fixed after the fact. Quality is built from the foundation up. It is not an add on, to be added at the dealership. Poor design, material choices, craftmanship, training, etc. are the issues. A lot has been sacrificed in the name of weight reduction to cater to smaller tow vehicles.

Ernie Powell
15 days ago

The whole problem with these auricles is GREED. For the love of money is the root of ALL evil and that’s what the customer ends up with EVIL. Lost of money, bad taste in our mouth toward the manufactory and we tell everybody about what happen to us. Maybe lost of lives because of bad work and recalls .

Bob M
15 days ago

I have to agree that we as consumers are to blame for accepting the poor quality RV’s and equipment. I’ve read on RV forums where owners feel it’s acceptable to have to fix issues with their new RV’s. It’s not acceptable to have to repair issues yourself on new RV’s. or to let them sit in dealers lots waiting for repair. We need to not accept them at the PDI and complain to dealers and manufactures about their poor quality and workmanship. Including the length of time to repair. File complaints with your state consumer protection.

Roger Marble
15 days ago

Great article. Will remember the “24 hours” statement if we buy again. We have been very lucky. Our 2008 and 2016 Class-C were for the most part defect-free. There were some issues but as I work on cars as a hobby I have a fully equipped shop so could “fix” just about any problem. The biggest issues were an electrical problem on the chassis that could have happened to any pickup owner. In the coach portion, there was just sloppy workmanship with electrical tape used to seal a water line and holes “bashed” through the hidden portion of the walls to pass the wiring through. Neither of the above would have been found even with professional inspection as you had to take portions of the coach apart to see these issues.

Steve Murray
16 days ago

The Dealers are Complicit with this Larcenous Mediocrity. They charge for Prep but do “not” Inspect unless problems are visually apparent.
Dealers say, “Take it on a Shake Down Trip”, bring us your list and we’ll get her done. When you call with your Punchlist they say, “We can get you in in 3-12 Months.
Dealers laugh about Customers during Sales Meetings.
Review your Manufacturer. Call their Customer Service line to see how you are treated before the Purchase.
Get an Inspector. Have an Attorney review your Sales and Warranty Document. $1,000 Due Diligence is warranted for a $50,000-$2,000,000 Purchase.
Yes.. It is the Consumers fault. Don’t trust these Con-Men…
Do the Work. Do not accept crappy crap….
Good luck and have fun!

Laurie
16 days ago

It’s ridiculous even suggesting that the consumer is to blame. As a long time RV’r whom recently purchased a brand new 5th wheel I can tell you from my experience that it was impossible to find all the defects in the walk through. Plus after waiting 12 weeks for delivery (4 weeks behind schedule) we were anxious to receive it. Getting the dealer and the manufacturer to take the blame for defects was nearly impossible. They totally lied through their teeth that the RV was top quality and that they never get complaints. They are where the problem lies!

Ozzie
15 days ago
Reply to  Laurie

Not only are WE not qualified to find all the defects in a walk through but qualified independent inspectors will also not find all the defects because many defects won’t become apparent until after use/travel. That could take months or even years in some cases. No, we as consumers need to be protected by law from defects and mistakes from the MANUFACTURER that in some cases have caused RV’s to literally fall apart going down the road. IMO consumers should be suing manufacturers to the point where they are forced into compliance.

Melvin Bowden
16 days ago

The manufacturers are responsible for the quality of the product. The RV system needs controls set up as in the automobile industry.

Ozzie
15 days ago
Reply to  Melvin Bowden

Exactly! Do you have to take a new car to an independent inspector?

Barbara Ryan
15 days ago
Reply to  Ozzie

No, you don’t, but perhaps you should.

Bill H.
16 days ago

For some reason this discussion reminds me of the “Soup Nazi” episode on Seinfeld. As those of you familiar with that episode will remember, the “Soup Nazi” had a terrible attitude toward his customers, but his customers put up with it because he made the best soup. Had his soup been okay, mediocre, or just plain bad, no one would have put up with his attitude. Well, we have a situation where many, if not most, RV manufacturers are putting out mediocre or just plain bad RVs, and they are having no problem finding buyers for them, and it’s not because the prices are so good. I believe that experienced RVers do a thorough walk through and test, but the newbie RVers are the ones who, for the most part, have stars and dreams blocking their sense of awareness that they are about to spend a lot of money on an RV that they’re going to be miserable owning…at least until all of the problems are fixed. Act in haste, repent in leisure should be the motto of new RV buyers.

Billy B
16 days ago
Reply to  Bill H.

As with many Readers!! No; a resounding NO!! Do think All Manufactures have a Moral responsibility to put out a quality product whether they be an RV Manufacturer or a Peanut Butter.
The Mfr. CEO gets Jail Time. “JAIL TIME” for putting Lives in Danger!! with a 5 Year Min. Sentence to start!!
The “Dealer” CEO get’s same. Perhaps being a Cell Mate w/ Mfr. CEO.
Enough said!!

Bob Jones
15 days ago
Reply to  Billy B

Would you also accept that WORKERS that take shortcuts and do sub-standard work should also do 5 years in the slammer?

Craig Babcock
16 days ago

I am a potential RV consumer. I would benefit greatly if individual posters and RV newsletter publishers would call out manufacturers and dealers (by name, model, specific problem, etc.) when they are providing substandard products and services. There seems to be a hesitancy to be specific when calling attention to problems especially when it comes to manufacturers.

Glenda Alexander
16 days ago
Reply to  Craig Babcock

Visit https://rv.org/ for ratings of all types/makes/models/etc. They are a non-profit independent RV consumer group rating RVs since 1990.

Steve Murray
15 days ago

https://www.pissedconsumer.com/ put in the Brand you are interested in and out comes reviews..

Sharon Naismith
13 days ago

I absolutely agree with Glenda Alexander’s comments about https://rv.org/
Do your due diligence before even considering a manufacturer, or even a specific model produced by a given manufacturer before spending a dime! This organization spells out known issues and describes potential problems that you won’t find out from a dealer or the Internet.

Carl
16 days ago

This slant on the responsibility for RV quality is way off base. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer.

Last edited 16 days ago by Carl
Roger Marble
15 days ago
Reply to  Carl

Yes, the mfg is responsible but we, the consumers do not hold the mfg feet to the fire by doing a thorough inspection, not just a walk-through, and refusing delivery until everything is fixed. We are in too much of a hurry to get the new shiny thing home.

Ernie Powell
15 days ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

haste makes waste.

Barbara Ryan
15 days ago
Reply to  Roger Marble

Agreed. However, WE are the CEOs of our families. We are responsible to protect them to the best of our ability. We may not hold the feet of the mfg for quality products, but we do hold the purse strings. Make sure what comes out of those wallets for a product that will keep our families safe.

Gary G
16 days ago

Good points made in article and by the comments below. I do not think one should have to hire an inspector for a new rv, a used rv is a different story. The manufacturers should build them ready to go PERIOD, whether they cost 5k or 500k. If they can’t, get out of the business and stop stealing from people. Rv dealers need to hire more technicians and give better service also.

Ray
16 days ago

Manufacturers are responsible for a product’s quality. Consumers are responsible for buying that product thus creating emphasis for building the nest product of similar quality. Crap products that are seldom purchased are seldom repeated.

Kate
16 days ago

Oh and by the way….I have decided that before we buy another RV (we were newbies and the Class A we bought had significant water damage hidden by upper cabinets) I will be going to school to become a Certified RV Inspector. I’m sure most dealerships don’t expect a woman to be capable of inspecting. lol

Kate
16 days ago

I agree if buying new or used….get an inspector to go through it with precision. A very good friend of ours took possession of a VERY expensive 5th wheel, took it camping out of state and noticed a foul smell. After opening the bins, realized there was SEWAGE leaking. Called a mobile unit to the campground and after a 5 minute look said “Buddy, they never hooked up the piping from your toilet to the black tank. Every time you flush it just sprays all over under your floor onto the top of the black tank and drips down.”
He’s been fighting with the dealership and manufacturer since June to get this resolved.

Bill R
15 days ago
Reply to  Kate

Who was the manufacturer?

Doug Harrison
16 days ago

With over 30yrs of automotive retail experience I have watched that industry transition from the early days of poor quality from the market of the big 3 to the import industry shaking that up in the early 70’s and quality finally after over a decade later starting to improve.
Buyers knew that quality was poor or in most cases didn’t know what to look for. It wasn’t until in particular the Japanese manufactures showed the world (including the big 3) what quality and value look like.
The buyers took their money elsewhere and it wasn’t until then that quality improved. GM owned 52% of the market at one point where was their motivation to change, I believe they’re now in the low 20%.
What we need is for a low to moderately priced manufacturer to step up and do it right and take away the market from the others, God forbid if the Japanese or Korean’s decide to jump in, look out Jayco.

Larry
16 days ago

I do not agree that I, the buyer, am responsible in any way for the factory failure on my 2021 model trailer. I did not neglect to seal the water fill joint at the hidden fresh water tank. Some things only show up when the unit is actually in use in the real world. Pre-delivery inspections, while important, are not the answer.

Before buying, I read lots of user forums and quickly learned of the widespread quality complaints. I researched RV dealers and found a local one with a good reputation for customer care. Before even looking at anything on their lot I talked with them about the problems with new units. I asked for and got from them a promise to fix the problems promptly on any rig I purchased from them. I read about and avoided Camping World.

FAME RV in Saegertown, PA, has been great. Several times that first summer I called them, set up a date, and brought the rig in. They fixed it while I waited.

Barbara Ryan
15 days ago
Reply to  Larry

I understand where you are coming from. However, you did your due diligence. Most newbies do not and sometimes even those experienced RVer’s do not. The article talks about the walkthrough. Personally, I doubt seriously that any dealer will hook the RV in question. Too costly for them. Is there a lemon law regarding RVs?

I did a quick google search and found this… http://www.lemonlawcase.com/new-motorhome-lemon-law/

Hope it helps.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
15 days ago
Reply to  Barbara Ryan

Thanks, Barbara. That website, sponsored by a law firm, has a lot of good information. I will add a link to another law firm which specializes in lemon RVs and which we highly recommend: Ron Burdge, “America’s premier RV lemon law attorney.” Their website also has a lot of very useful information if you think/know you have a lemon RV. Regarding the firm, their website states: more than 7,000 clients, more than $50 million recovered for clients, more than 18 awards received, and more than 40 years of experience. Have a good evening. 🙂 –Diane

bull
16 days ago

YES BUYER’S OF RV’S ARE TO BLAME FOR THE POOR QUALITY OF RV’S.

It’s that “Me Gotta Have Now” attitude we as consumers in the good ole USA have!

Small purchase or large purchase it makes no difference. I want it NOW and nowhere else for so long have manufacturers understood this consumer attitude and taken advantage of this consumer attitude than in the RV Industry. RV manufacturer’s expect their dealers to be their manufacturing “Quality Inspection and Repair” division.

RV dealers are just as accepting of the “Me Gotta Have Now” attitude. Just like the foolish consumer RV dealers have allowed the RV manufacturer’s to dump “Quality Inspection and Repair” upon them. Just because you may have a FREE floor plan for a period of time from the manufacturer floating your inventory cost is still no reason to be accepting of such poor product manufacturing.

When will it stop?

When RV dealers and especially RV consumers say NO MORE and stop buying POOR QUALITY RV’s.

Last edited 16 days ago by bull
Ernie Powell
15 days ago
Reply to  bull

Haste makes waste ?

wanderer
16 days ago

Absolutely not. A newbie buyer has absolutely no way to know how or what to check. Nor the ability to take panels off and check for poor installs hidden out of sight. And those buying a $15,000 unit for weekend camping cannot afford multiple professional inspections of the RVs on their ‘short list’.

In todays seller’s market, and even before, there is no room in the process for a buyer refusing to take delivery until the unit is perfect, the dealership will just laugh at you and sell the RV to someone else. If one is incredibly knowledgeable, and a skilled negotiator with a will of iron, maybe you can get away with it. The rest of us are not getting into RECREATIONal vehicles for the confrontation.

There is no excuse for selling product which is not suitable for its intended use because of shoddy design and construction. And it is not up to potential buyers to offer free quality control services.

Tommy Molnar
16 days ago
Reply to  wanderer

Spot on about newbies. They have NO idea of what to look for or check. They are expecting a perfect unit ready for the fun stuff. And why not? They are most likely likening it to buying a new car which in today’s automotive world WILL be perfect (or as close as you can get).

Bill R
15 days ago
Reply to  wanderer

Well said!