Poll results: “Which trailers would you advise others not to buy?”

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

The website outdoorfact.com conducted a survey of 100,000 Facebook group users asking members what brands of travel trailers they would decidedly advise NOT buying. Some 3,000 people responded. Here’s the list (in order of most-to-least) of not recommended travel trailer brands.

EDITORS NOTE: We do not know the actual methods used in this study. Some of the conclusions reached about why a particular brand was rated poorly jibe with the hundreds of postings we have observed at the Facebook group RV Horror Stories. But, we realize there are two sides to every story, so please keep that in mind.

1. Forest River (45 percent not recommended)

2. Keystone (26 percent not recommended)

3. Jayco (15 percent not recommended)

4. Coachmen (5 percent not recommended)

5. Winnebago (3 percent not recommended)

6. Fleetwood (2 percent not recommended)

7. Gulf Stream (1 percent not recommended)

Since the survey didn’t indicate specific reasons to avoid these given brands, outdoorfact.com did their own research to try and determine why these brands struck such a negative chord. Here’s a quick breakdown of their conclusions.

Forest River RV: At one time a respected industry name, FR appears to have lost customer support. Many complained about water leakage, sinking floors, and a lousy customer service track record.

Keystone Travel Trailer: Structural and technical issues topped the list of negative-feeling inducers. There were complaints of cabinet doors falling off hinges and “mediocre” furniture, and problems with the rig’s control board were mentioned. Others griped about pre-purchase issues, including a website that was difficult to navigate and find pertinent information. Consumers reported telephone helpline assistance was such that it made them wonder just how supportive the company would be post-purchase.

Jayco Travel Trailer: Here the reviewers found a mixed bag of responses. While some Jayco customers are happy with their unit, others described their purchase as, “a big waste of money.” Cited among complaints were appliances and other bling that looked great at purchase time but didn’t hold up and led to expensive repairs. Water leaks, missing fixtures, and HVAC issues were also noted.

Coachmen Travel Trailer: While earlier model Coachmen units got good marks, the consensus is that as the years have rolled by, the quality of Coachmen’s builds have fallen substantially. Water leakage, both from outside the rig and from plumbing, were cited. Others found the construction of drawers and slides were shoddy. Others noted that upgraded refrigerators left exposed wiring.

Winnebago Travel Trailer: On the list of consumer complaints was interior construction. Damaged walls and bent wall paneling were said to be a normal expectation. Components coming loose and requiring maintenance was mentioned, along with lighting that failed, leaving users in the dark. Customer service came in for a rather negative viewpoint, leaving customers feeling that the company wasn’t going to do much to help.

Fleetwood Travel Trailer: This is another brand that at one time got good marks but over time has slid in the customer-esteem polls. Mentions of Fleetwood “aging” faster than normal were on the list of complaints, as were low-voltage electrical system issues. Newer models were said to have black water tank leakage problems. And when customers brought problems to Fleetwood’s attention, the response of the company was anything but stellar.

Gulf Stream Travel Trailer: Water leakage was high on the list of complaints for Gulf Stream. Others griped about bad component installation, or simply how poorly designed the layout of some interior components tended to be. To their credit, Gulfstream got good marks for responding to customer problems, although some noted that they felt they were charged extra to get their problems fixed.

Thor Hurricane: The Hurricane received terrible reviews from many, says outdoorfact.com. Some suggested that Thor had built their “new” unit with “used” parts. True or not, there were certainly other issues of concern. Quoting outdoorfact.com: “A wide range of operation difficulties, structure weakness and malfunction features can be found all over the vehicle.” Summing up Hurricane by Thor, the reviewers wrote, “One of worst RV brands to avoid.”

Got a brand to avoid? We’d love to hear about it, and why you feel that way.

##RVT925b

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Robin Maheu
10 months ago

Bought a THOR ACE from Camping world, was lied to when we purchased it near Birmingham, and got abused by the KNOXVILLE CW. Never ever will buy a rig from Camping World again.

Woody
10 months ago

What a scientific source! Not just data from Facebook but from a page that only solicits unhappy customers. The RV Consumer Group does still exist and they do still rate RVs using some solid data to do so.

These folks seem to believe that anything on the internet must be true?

Fig
10 months ago

Joined RV Consumers Group (don’t know if they still exist) in 2007 to research best built Travel Trailers. Bought a 2007 Arctic Fox, traveled over 20K past 12 year summers – only had one issue which Northwood corrected immediately. Glad I did my research before buying. Don’t know how good AF/NORTHWOOD products are today, hopefully better than most.

Steve
10 months ago

Opinions are like belly buttons…everybody has one.

bob aikman
10 months ago

That is what happens when the big guy takes over it is all about stock market they have to produce a profit and it comes from shoddy workmanship that comes from above put more units out they went from 16 a day to 32 with the the same staff now who losses ?

Vincee
10 months ago

Throw all of the varied opinions in one big basket and you have the entire RV industry. What’s wrong with someone’s Jayco is what is wrong with someone’s Winnebago, likewise if it is one of Forest River’s 44 nameplates. Cheap or expensive, many of the sub manufacturers are the same; Lippert, Dometic, Jensen Electronics, Magnum, ShurFlo, Carefree, and on and on. A lazy employee for Forest River gets fired, drives a half-mile down the road to Jayco and gets hired on the spot for ten cents an hour more. Life is good, output crappy.

John T
10 months ago

Completely meaningless poll. Large manufacturers have many complaints and small manufacturers have few, because of the relative number of units sold.

Admin
Kim Christiansen (@imkimc)
10 months ago
Reply to  John T

Not quite. If a large manufacturer had excellent quality then they would get few complaints. But this certainly wasn’t a controlled study by any means. So this is more of a “your mileage may vary” poll. It has some relevance, but in the end every brand of RV can have problems.

Chris roth
10 months ago

Whatever you do buy do not buy from RV one in casselberry Florida or any of the other locations.

Don
10 months ago

Stupid story. Forest River has 44 different lines. Some, like Surveyor and Rockwood, are the best you can buy. Others, like the Wildwood and Wolf Pup lines, are definitely several steps down. Lumping them all together is useless. Useless information.

Denny
10 months ago
Reply to  Don

And THIS is a big problem. If a company is standup, they would only have one line. Having several allows them to do what they apparently do, and turn out lots o’ junk for a quick buck or whatever motivates them. I say, as it’s stated somewhere in the bible, The King (customer) will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” RV buyers should use this philosophy when purchasing a RV. If part of the line is junk, then that shows the company’s heart. Don’t buy anything they make.

Steve
10 months ago

I actually find this article a little disturbing. Everyone knows someone who has had issues and everyone know someone who loves their camper. I don’t know one person who had a stick and brick house build that doesn’t have a list of “fixes”.

If you are going to “muck rake” about issues, you better write the version about people who like (love) their RV and who would recommend this.

I am disappointed that RVTravel even sponsored this much less printed it. Puts this blog up with the tabloids. People – If you are so unhappy with your RV – don’t RV! RV quality needs to be improved, but this seems like an open “bitch” session. Sorry but how I see this!

Steve

Don Driever
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Well said. I had similar thoughts as I was reading this article. This so call information is worthless garbage.

Tommy Molnar
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve

RVTravel did not conduct this survey. “outdoorfact.com” did. It’s also stated in the article that Chuck and friends don’t know how the survey was conducted but opted to print it here for our edification, and as usual, we can come to our own conclusions. I read it, went “Hmmmm”, and moved on. Seems like some of you should do the same.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
10 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Thanks, Tommy. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

TravelingMan
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve

When you purchase a house, you don’t expect to have to pay for it twice in the first five years.

Danny Wells
10 months ago

I think the first place a person should search before buying is the Federal Recall List. Want to know
which makes and models not to buy just look at how many of a companies models have or had in the past. Looking at the recall list in today’s issue might tell you to avoid Forrest River.

https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-and-rv-related-recalls-for-november-2019/

Silas Longshot
10 months ago

Forest River has how many dozen brands / models they make now? Which ones are the lemon list? The sticks and staples construction? Or the Azdel bonded aluminum framed ones? Which subset of how many different ones? 5th wheel? Toy hauler? Bunkhouse? Motor homes? And how many people are pizzed at Forest River when it’s the crappy dealer service from Camping World they’re actually sour on?

Ed & Robin D
10 months ago
Reply to  Silas Longshot

This poll is flawed! It was most likely comprised of people that don’t own a FR product. We own a 2016 Coachmen (made by FR) Leprechaun 319DS (Class C) and I can tell you first hand that it has been an absolute dream come true for us. It is laid out beautifully and has every amenity we could ask for in a Motor Home. We have had no major issues with it whatsoever and we are out rving quite a lot. So, like all polls, it can be manipulated to say what the pollster wants it to say.

TravelingMan
10 months ago
Reply to  Ed & Robin D

Be careful…I agree that surveys can be deceiving but there may be things going on that you are not aware of just yet. We thought we had a “good” (at least decent) RV for a while. When it rains, it pours. If you have water leaks, you’ll soon discover the damage that it provides. You can’t see them until it is too late. Have a backup plan…

Dan
10 months ago

Any statistics about reliability should to be a percentage of the number sold. Otherwise the poll is useless.

warmonk
10 months ago

There is only one brand that I would buy: Outdoor RV. Their sister brand Arctic Fox would be second. Having said that, neither are as good as they used to be, but both are better than any others. Not cheap to buy. Not cheaply built. Hmmm … maybe you get what you pay for.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
10 months ago
Reply to  warmonk

Thanks, warmonk. And I always go a step further: “… and you don’t get what you don’t pay for.” 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Wosim
10 months ago

Forest river wildwood don’t ever buy it

DW/ND
10 months ago

Wow! Reading all these issue filled Rv pull units makes me really glad we have an issue free 1994 34′ Winnebago Vectra Class A – our 2nd Class A, which we have owned (Cash) now for 12+ years! My only complaint is the tape strip they used over the paneling seams – no big deal. Our lst class A was a 28′ El Dorado with wood structure and leaks beyond belief! Junk! Happy trails……….

Jeff Johnston
10 months ago

How old is this survey? For example, Fleetwood stopped making trailers many years ago. The REV group now owns and manufactures motorhomes under the Fleetwood brand but that purchase took place years after the company ceased building trailers. Calling the REV group customer service guys and asking for trailer help with a towable product that’s at least 10 years old, built by a long-nonexistent company, is more than a little unrealistic. Coachmen, likewise, has been a Forest River brand for many years now, why is that brand called out separately from the Forest River category? The survey seems to not take into account how many trailers are represented in each category. Forest River and Keystone sell huge numbers of trailers compared to Winnebago and Gulfstream, for example, so it’s logical that there will be more customer responses to questions about those products. Although I applaud their efforts to compile such a list the methodology here is highly suspect.

Terri R
10 months ago

agree with Janelle – question should have been asked appropriately so percentage of owners dissatisfied could be identified – simply ask what you have owned & were you / are you happy with this choice. Could even have 5 options for why happy & 5 options for why not & allow for prioritization of those responses. I suspect more people own a Forest River TT than Winnebago TT as a simple example & would support this poll

Janelle Sills
10 months ago

I’m not sure how the statistics were done here, but I would tend to assume that the percentages lie with the largest group of ownership, allowing the small groups like KZ RV to go unnoticed. Perhaps the next time try to normalize the data according to percentage of recent or current owners who are unhappy with a brand. That way the smaller market still can be revealed as lemons.

Jerry
10 months ago

A must ask question, will the dealer cover the cost of any repairs whether you’re living in it or not? We live in ours and cannot take it in every time a problem arises. That’s why we have mobile RV repair, which the company should pay for because these things were done month after we were living in it. I own a Jayco and so far they’ve been pretty good. I still have a few things to take care of which have been on the list for a while now so hopefully they’ll come up take care of it