Is RV Quality Fading?

There have been some recent articles and vlogs talking about RV Quality lately. And we find this interesting. Because honestly we’ve noticed quality issues with new RV’s for a few years now – not just recently. and many other vloggers have been talking about RV Quality too. It’s no secret that with supply chain and shipping shortages, RV Manufactures have an uphill battle ahead. But what we find curious is that many people are just now talking about quality issues. And we’ve noticed that many newer RV’s have been lacking in quality for a while. 

The RV Manufacturing Process

RV Quality

To really understand the why and how of quality when it comes to RV’s, it’s important to understand a few things about how RV’s are made. 

Have you ever seen a video clip about how auto makers make cars and trucks? It’s an assembly line process. And many of the aspects of the assembly line are automated. This means there are robotics and other types machinery. These machines are installing the same bolt in the same hole, time after time after time. It’s repetitive. A repetitive manual labor process on an assembly line helps to reduce the margin of error. This is because anything repetitive becomes easier and more ingrained in the mind of the installer. when there is the same process over and over. Think about this: the same part, being installed in the same location, time after time. This repetition actually decreases the margin of error – kind of like the saying “practice makes perfect.”

Many RV’s are manufactured by the same parent company with many of these manufactured being located in Elkhart, Indiana. And RVs manufactured in Elkhart account for 80% of global RV production. By 2007, Thor Industries owned over half of the American RV Industry, followed by Forest River and REV Group.

Lots Of RV Options

Now, think about the vastly different types of RV’s. You have motorized Class A’s, Class C’s and B vans. There are towable 5th wheels, travel trailers, pop up trailers and all sorts of hybrids that are a cross between pop-up and travel trailers.

There are DOZENS of floor plans and options to the hundreds of different types of RV’s. 

Ultimately, what this means is during the manufacturing process (performed manually in most cases) is that it is not as repetitive as the same bolt in the same hole over and over. This is very much unlike the assembly line process with auto manufacturing. Not having this repetitive process makes for a larger possibility for human error. 

Rushed To Finish = RV Quality Fade

And now, there is a whole new dynamic layered into the mix. Many RV manufacturers can’t keep up with demand. I don’t know about you, but when I am rushed and pushed to get a task done: that task ends up being completed. BUT I will complete it with more of a “good enough” and “that will work” result. Instead of what I would consider my “best work” or being complete with a high level of quality.

Now we have taken notice of the quality of newer RV’s for awhile. Since getting our start with RV Living we’ve visited many dealer lots and RV Shows. We’ve walked through dozens and dozens of new RV’s. And we have noticed that even some of these brand new RV’s have cabinet doors falling off, trim cracking, doors coming off hinges, and more. Obviously the issues we’ve observed are more “fit and finish” type of items. This is because when walking through a new unit, that is really the only thing you can see or test out. The “minor” things.

Big Quality Issues Vs. Small Issues

We’ve talked to numerous other RVer’s who have purchased new and ended up with a long list of issues. BEYOND fit and finish. Things like the fridge not even working or water leaks. I’ll never forget the poor person who shared in a Facebook group about a major quality issue. They had hit a bump on a rough road in their class A and the MICROWAVE fell out of the ceiling where it’s mounted. This is all happening in BRAND NEW RV’s which of course costs tens of thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands in some cases).

Be Prepared To Wait

People who are needing repairs made are being placed on months-long wait lists.

I could not even fathom buying a new car and immediately having issues. Issues that affect even being able to use the car. And then being told, “Hey by the way, we can get your car fixed but we need about 3-4 months to get that done. So just leave your car here with us for the next 3-4 months and we will let you know when we are done.” Of course that won’t happen because in most states as soon as your vehicle is out of service for more than 30 consecutive days, it’s eligible to be purchased back through lemon laws. 

Lemon Law when it comes to RV’s is a bit more tricky and there are so many different laws in different states with different exclusions. Many of which are exclusions that apply coverage to only the chassis and exclude “non-living” areas. So if you’re fridge isn’t working which of course affects your ability to use your RV – well, that is excluded in most cases because it’s not chassis related.

RV Quality Interior

What Is Your Experience?

Maybe you have run into this very issue. Let us know in the comments what your experience is with getting warranty work completed on your RV. 

You do not have to dig too far start seeing comments in Facebook groups and other online forums where people are sharing the RV dream turned nightmare all due to poor quality issues. I’ve even run across a Facebook group entitled “RV Horror Stories.”

What To Do?

So, what is one to do? There are no easy answers – but we are going to share our personal opinion. 

We have chosen to buy used with both the RV’s we’ve owned. There are several different reasons we went this route of buying used vs. new. But one benefit we have seen is usually the previous owners have worked out some of the “kinks” that might have existed. We are also noticing that many RV’s built prior to the recession in 2008 are built a little more “solid” and at a higher quality level.

Now, this is our personal opinion and observation after talking with RV owners with various RV’s manufactured in different years. Feel free to share your opinion or experience below in the comments!

Get An RV Inspection

With the quality issues we are facing with new RV’s it might be a good idea if you are purchasing a new RV to STILL get a certified RV Inspector to check it out before you take delivery. It could save you a major headache later on down the road.

When buying used, it’s a best practice to get an inspection before purchasing. Not that an inspection will catch any potential FUTURE concerns but it will help to catch any EXISTING concerns that are currently present so you know what you are getting into. 

Most of the time, when purchasing a large cost item, like a car or truck, you have a mechanic give it once over. It’s best to do the same when purchasing an RV – even when purchasing new right now.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever hired an RV Inspector and what your experience was. We always love reading your comments and hearing what others are experiencing. 

Don’t forget to head over to our “Partners” page to see what discounts we have secured for RVers and travelers!

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