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RV Quality: What RV manufacturers don’t want you to know

Most RVers buy their RV based on the “Bling” — what it looks like. “Oh, I just love the floor plan,” says the wife. “I love that it has a Cummins engine,” says the husband. And they talk about how they can manage the monthly payments if they just watch their other spending. “Let’s do it!” they say, very excited.

But wait: They are so in love with the idea of exploring the highways with a rolling comfy home on wheels, going where they want, when they want, that they don’t pay attention to a whole lot of details. Very bad! “Oh, we’ll camp by a mountain lake and I’ll fish and you can sit outside with your favorite book,” he says to her.

But here is some of what most customers have not even considered (which is the way many manufacturers want it, especially those of inexpensive RVs):

• If they are buying the RV in the summer, how do they know how well the heater will work in December?

• If they are buying the RV in winter, will the air conditioner(s) do the job in July?

• How well are the kitchen cabinets constructed? Are they attached so poorly that they might fall down on an especially bumpy highway?

• How much closet space is there?

• How easy is it watch the TV? Will they get a stiff neck bending it to watch their favorite show?

• What’s the quality of the carpet? It can vary. The carpet in a cheap RV will wear out far faster than in a quality one.

• Where are the electric plugs? A manufacturer is required to put in a certain number of plugs based on an RV’s length: If they want to save money they can place the plugs close to each other, saving significant money on wiring. They know most buyers won’t even pay attention. So if you use a CPAP machine when sleeping, be sure there’s a plug near the bed.

• How well is the couch made? Will it fall apart in a couple of years? Same for the bed? Manufacturers put cheap furniture in cheap RVs. They’ve got to make a profit, right?

• Do you like the graphics on the exterior? Customers likely don’t realize that not all graphics are the same — cheap RVs have cheap graphics that may look great at first, but will fade or crack within a year or two. Those on more expensive RVs cost the RV manufacturer more and will last longer.

• How loud is the water pump? Does it sound like a garbage disposal, or is it quiet (that costs a manufacturer more)?

• How well-insulated is the RV? Insulating costs money. The less a manufacturer uses, the more money it saves.

• How good is the foam in the dinette cushions? Will it soon compress and leave you sitting on the plywood base?

A $30,000 RV and a $60,000 RV may look the same without a close inspection. Many RVers don’t look very closely. They just fall in love, pick the cheaper model, pay and drive away.

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Donald N Wright
3 months ago

working at Home Depot, it was fun to find our cheaper cabinets in expensive Motor Homes.

STEVE
3 months ago

I bought mine after much research. Outrigger wall supports, adequate counter space, aluminum framing and AZDEL are what sold me. I walked in and ordered it. No salesman required.

Robert
3 months ago

Our sales person lifted the bed and talked about the structure then encouraged us to look at other RVs at the show. If what a buyer can easily find is not finished well, one can only imagine the short cuts taken behind the walls about hidden places?

Jim Johnson
3 months ago

The easiest way in my opinion to determine RV quality is the trim used where components meet. The more and bigger the covering trim pieces, the less precision was used in construction. If the construction precision is below average, so will be the quality and durability of darn near everything else.

And here is an alternative view on RV quality… We bought a small travel trailer with the floor plan we liked and dry/full weight that was slightly less than 80% of our SUV’s tow capacity. What I noticed was greater durability, at least in small trailers, had a direct correlation to weight. Similar floor plans from ‘better’ manufacturers exceeded our weight needs by also adding things that wouldn’t increase our usability.

We are not rough on our RV, and do the maintenance. I have a good understanding and skill to make minor modifications to a travel trailer. The price we paid was low enough to fix the obvious shortcomings without adding significant weight to the trailer.

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago

I think this is going to be interesting. For instance, I didn’t know that there are supposed to be a certain number of electrical outlets per foot of RV.

STEVE
3 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Kind of like in a house. An outlet every so many linear feet of wall.

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