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Commentator

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Newtown Square, PA
Posts: 55

RV Industry (Still) Not Catching Up on Quality Issues

05/11/2012 7:14 AM

I have been driving an RV for 5 years now and as quality is an overall issue on the RV's I wondered if the RV industry made some improvements.

My RV Winnebago 2001 on a Ford E450 has many quality related issues. The one thing that's sticks out is RUST. Rust is everywhere; any part of the RV that is made from metal is totally rusted and makes the vehicle look old and dilapidated in less than 5 years. This and many other issues can be read in this blog: http://do-not-buy-an-rv.tumblr.com/ that I found the other day.

So we are now 5 years later and we just went thru a big financial crisis where especially this industry got hit hard. Many RV makers went belly up and I was hoping that lessons learned would put this industry in a different thinking mode, ie "Let's see if we can make them better and customers might come back".

Nothing is further from the truth. I went to an RV dealer and looked at the 2012 Gulf Stream VISA 23RBK. The one thing that I noticed immediately is that the formaldehyde scare after Katrina got their attention (http://do-not-buy-an-rv.tumblr.com/Formaldehyde) and this trailer had a certification in low VOC.

So that's good, however one dip under the trailer revealed a rusted area of over a foot long on the frame. Knowing that this trailer had not driven one mile and spend it's entire live in the showroom you and I know what this means once you own the vehicle. Rust, rust and more rust. So looking more closely at the vehicle and comparing the other issues I have with my RV I must report that nothing has changed.

So the conclusion is still: Stay away from buying an RV and either rent or take a vacation in an expensive hotel. Because owning an RV and paying for its yearly maintenance is easily going to top your expensive hotel trip bill by far and that hotel trip will not give you headaches throughout the rest of the year.

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#1

Re: RV Industry (Still) Not Catching Up on Quality Issues

05/11/2012 9:05 AM

Part of the problem stems from the way RVs are built. In order to save money, frames with complete running gear are purchased for RV use in groups.That means that these frames must sit somewhere till assembly time arrives. No one is going to invest any more money in these frames than they have to because they might not get sold.

There are companies that have made a living selling rust prevention. Ziebart comes to mind. Perhaps insisting on having a warranty from a company like Ziebart before purchasing an RV might help this problem.

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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Newtown Square, PA
Posts: 55
#2
In reply to #1

Re: RV Industry (Still) Not Catching Up on Quality Issues

05/11/2012 9:36 AM

Hi Bob, I wish I had these options when purchasing an RV. I spent a lot of time looking before I bought and they all have the same issue's.

I spoke to many fellow campers and I have a couple of friends with RV's. All the same issues, and there is just no brand on the market from which you can buy a good product. Unlike the car market, with cars you have a choice.

My 16 year old Camry does not have rust, still looks good and more importantly I never had anything mayor happening to it. Just do your maintanace and you will have a vehicle for the next 20 years.

If your in the market for an RV, read the blog I mentioned in my initial post first I surely wish I did.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: RV Industry (Still) Not Catching Up on Quality Issues

05/11/2012 11:53 PM

If you took a representative from Ziebart to inspect the prospective RV, I would expect that the rep would have a list of things that he would want protected before Ziebart would be willing to issue a just protection guarantee. That might force the RV dealer to protect it if he wants a sale. Good luck.

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#4

Re: RV Industry (Still) Not Catching Up on Quality Issues

05/15/2012 11:17 AM

I have a friend who has a Four Winds Class C on the E450 chassis with the V10 Triton. He bought it about 8 years ago and has been driving the wheels off this thing. It has over 100K at this point. Is there rust under the body? Sure, but it's basically harmless surface rust. It's not going to become a structural issue until well beyond the rig's lifetime. None of the rust on the undercarriage takes away from the visual appearance as it is largely out of view. I've been under and around his rig several times exorcising electrical gremlins that arose when a tire shredded and tore up his wiring harness.

I have a 2003 Jayco Qwest 324G travel trailer we pull with our 2002 1/2-ton Suburban. Same thing. A little surface here and there underneath the trailer. No big deal. We use the hell out of our trailer. My wife solo'ed this rig with the kids the year I was forward deployed. She loves it. She loves that she has her OWN kitchen. Her OWN bathroom. Her OWN bed. You'll never get that feeling of home in a hotel. Never.

Are these RV's cheaply built? Yep. That's in large part why they are affordable. And light weight. If you want top notch construction, you're gonna pay for it. Take a look at any Airstream. Beautifully built by craftsmen (and maybe craftswomen too). But those things cost more than my house with a third acre of land to boot. Same thing with class A coaches built on a diesel pusher chassis. I have my share of gripes with some of the shoddy work when these folks slap these things together. Does it remove the joy of RVing? Hell no. I can fix the little crap that annoys me. For instance, Jayco used plain steel staples when affixing the shower surround and puttied the holes in the wall. Guess what? After 8 years of hard use, water gets around the putty and rust appears. Had they spent a few more cents and used stainless staples, they could have used the same cheap construction techniques and this little annoyance would have never occured.

As for comparing these rigs to Toyata Camry's that is inherently unfair. They build millions of Camry's every year. The whole RV industry produces in the hundreds of thousands per year. No comparison. You will never get the kind of engineering that goes into a Camry into any RV. No one could afford it.

As for maintenance costs, you can do much of it yourself and save a bundle of money. If you just want to throw money at your local RV service center, that's YOUR problem. As jaded as you are, I will never be able to change your mind, and quite frankly I would have no intention of even trying. I just want to be able to give the readers of CR4 an opposing view of one who loves RV'ing even with its little warts and bumps.

Cheers !!

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Guru
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#5
In reply to #4

Re: RV Industry (Still) Not Catching Up on Quality Issues

05/15/2012 1:22 PM

Back when GMC made a motor home, I had a service tech that would visit us three times a year. He flat drove the wheels off of that. He commuted from Texas to Canada, and was on the road almost all year long. He loved that RV. But that had the benefit of a large engineering company behind it. I was always impressed with it.

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