Monday, September 25, 2023


Stupid RV design: Another example

By Chuck Woodbury
I’d laugh if this wasn’t so indicative of what happens so often in the RV industry. Stupid design!

Look at this photo of the toilet in a quarter million dollar 2017 Winnebago Journey motorhome spotted at giant RV dealer Lazydays in Tampa, Florida. The toilet’s lid is sawed off. Why? Because if not, it would not stay up when the sliding door to the bedroom is open. In other words, if that were my coach, and I wanted to get up at night to pee, I’d need to close the door behind me, or else hold the lid up with one hand so it didn’t fall down.

A reader sent these photos and wrote: “Upon entering the bathroom, we were totally shocked! On this quarter-million dollar mansion on wheels was probably one of the biggest blunders in motorhome history. The toilet was located in a corner, and as you can see by the photos, the seat cover was sawed off on one side to allow the lid to be raised fully without hitting the side wall!”

I forwarded the reader’s email and photos to the public relations director at Winnebago and requested an explanation. He responded:

“This is a 2017 ‘38P’ model Journey. The design intent is for the sliding door to be closed to the bedroom if you wish to have the lid and/or seat in the up position [where you would have] clearance to the wall. The photos show the lid adjacent to the sliding door, not the wall. Winnebago would not have cut the toilet lid, and would not have shipped in this condition. The quality department guesses the dealer wanted to display with the door open and did not want to run the risk of someone causing damage. They likely plan to install a new cover at time of sale.”

In other words, the dealer felt it better to saw off the lid than risk a potential buyer trying to raise it with the door open and learning he or she couldn’t do it, and/or cause damage. Wouldn’t you think a toilet seat lid should stay up regardless of the position of a nearby door? And keep in mind, this coach sells for about a quarter-million dollars!

It’s the sort of thing that makes you wonder what brilliant minds are designing some RVs.

Permission granted to post this on any website or periodical you wish as long as nothing is changed, and credit is provided to


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


    • Hi, Donald. Go to NRVIA (National Recreational Vehicle Inspectors Association): There’s a tab at the top you can click on to “Find An Inspector.” Good luck. 😀 —Diane at

  1. I can top that Winnebago faux pas. Back in 2014, I was SERIOUSLY searching to upgrade the wonderful LITTLE Casita Travel Trailer I used for 4 years. I saw a dealer with Itasca Ellipse RVs (the sister to the Winnebago Tour; the top of the line back then at $400,000.00). Doing a walk through, I opened a kitchen drawer to find several drawers that had nails sticking out into the drawer which were just waiting to “nail” an unsuspecting user. My 1st thought was, if Winnebago could NOT nail 2 pieces of wood together properly, how well could they handle the COMPLICATED items? Needless to say, I did NOT buy a Winnebago product.

  2. Sorry folks, but quality in RV’s is not even as good as cars are. You as potential buyer need to check everything, twice, and if not knowledgeable, hire an independent “certified RV technician” to check it over for you. We walked into a 250K unit and between us, found 35 surface defects on that coach, they really tried to sell us that one, and their comments were “oh we can fix that”, hmmm, how much time do I want this unit to sit in dealers lot for repair? That coach is not their only customer, so after point of sale, I am in the same line as all the rest of the customers, so glad we did not buy that one. After year with present coach, 25 defects which factory fixed, but some wear and tear during that time is normal. All Manufacturers need better quality control, it won’t get better until we as customers demand better, and this is true even for million dollar units, where the systems controller costs 25,000 dollars to replace.

  3. The simple solution for Winnebago would be to put the sliding panel of the bedroom/bathroom door on the bedroom side. Then the toilet lid would stay up whether the door was open or closed. It took me about 15 seconds to think of that after looking at the diagram of the floorplan. What are the designers doing for the rest of their day?

  4. Every RV contains dozens of such bad “design” decisions, some made by designers and some made by installers who didn’t follow the patterns and have to adjust (fudge) to make things fit in order to get a task finished in the small time allotted on the assembly line. I’ve seen a dozen of these on individual RVs, they just aren’t so visible, but just as frustrating.

  5. If the toilet lid was not a concern of the engineering/design team, what have they overlooked with things you can’t see!! There needs to be more engineering/design people at RV companies that actually go out and use them…….. and get more women involved.

  6. What’s more important?

    A functioning toilet or a functioning toilet lid?

    When designing in small spaces there are sometimes compromises to make all that CRAP you RVer’s think you have to have FIT in your new “Home Away From Home” on wheels! sitting 5 feet away from you new best friend in the local ghetto I mean campground!

    As stated by Winnebago the full size toilet lid was designed to will remain in the UP position only with the bathroom door CLOSED. With the bathroom door open the toilet lid must be DOWN. Some {bleeped} “thought” it was better to have the toilet lid up all the time versus the horrible cosmetics of the slightly “Modified” toilet seat. I am positive NOBODY on this site has ever anything done STUPID on their RV!

    Yes the toilet seat up only when the door is closed is a design “Compromise” that Winnebago thought was acceptable.

    Just remember that when these Small Space Design Compromises” are made by a manufacturer to git 10bs of CRAP in 5lb box for YOU to enjoy!

    • When someone spends a quarter of a million dollars on an RV, they don’t want to put up with such an idiotic design flaw. I haven’t seen anything so stupid in a $20k trailer.

    • I agree! Close the friggin door when you go to the toilet. And close the toilet lid when you’re done. Nobody wants to see (or smell) that. This is much ado about nothing.

  7. I would really enjoy a place where folks like me could post photos of design flaws and “name names” of companies and models.

  8. I told my boss about a removable tank on a toilet that did not have clearance to slide out. He said “good catch” but did nothing. The same thing happened with a leak I texted him about. Two months later he started repairs and blamed me for not following up.

  9. This has to do with the design and manufacturing teams are NOT the people that use these vehicles. The companies are out for one thing and it’s not your satisfaction…

  10. Just more proof that winnebago is on a steep downhill slide. I have purchased new Winnebagos in 1990, 2006, and 2015. After this last purchase, I will never buy another. Too bad, the company was the leader in RVs. Now they are what I consider an embarrassment to the industry

    • Reply to Jim Krauciunas:

      I completely agree! We have also had Winnebago/Itasca motorhome and loved them. Our 2014 was a complete failure and embarrassment to what used to be a top notch manufacturer. We had to sell our 2014 at a loss just to wake up from the nightmare! It will be very hard to trust them again. New Winnie/Itasca units I’ve checked out at dealers and shows have multiple obvious flaws which should have never made it past the initial factory installers – let alone the quality checks…

  11. A simple fix would appear to be rotating the toilet slightly to the left when referencing the picture. All you’d have to do is re position/remount the flange underneath….not a big deal. If I really liked the coach otherwise I’d do it (or have the dealer do it).

  12. Patti L. nailed it. If you continue to buy into poor design and low quality, there will be no incentive for the industry to improve.
    You will get what you tolerate.

  13. How about TP holders? They go from “none” to ridiculous like on the wall behind and above the toilet – that was on a $100k fifth wheel. You don’t have to be an RV’er, just a regular TP user to rethink that design! Or perhaps the designers don’t use TP?

  14. The designing engineers should be RVers, not people making a quick buck getting the job done.

    These designers should also be required to live in their designs.

  15. I have a feeling that there are no women involved with the designing of most of the RV’s I have seen. It’s a shame that the quality control officers let these RV’s out of the factory and unto the dealers in these conditions! Also, dealers need to go over the RV’s with a “fine tooth comb” before accepting them onto their lots

  16. Gee, that’s the same toilet we have in our travel trailer. Only difference is, we don’t have to cut half the lid off to open it. And, we didn’t have to pay a half million to get it.

  17. OK they cut the “lid” to open it, but in my house my wife constantly drums it into me to raise the seat when I gotta tinkle.
    So in order to raise the seat to tinkle the seat would also have to be cut. I don’t think that would be very comfortable to sit on when you have to do your doody.

  18. Okay, now that is just so sad. Of course, I have to wonder about the {bleeped} consumer who would purchase this thinking it was okay. If someone pays any amount of money for something so obviously poorly designed they deserve what they get. Take a hint kiddies, if it has to be displayed this way do you really want it? What about the design flaws that aren’t so readily visible. There is still such a thing as let the buyer beware. If we will buy into this kind of poor design why should the industry want to change it?


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