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Old 10-12-2016, 02:27 PM   #1
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Angry The problems and possible cure for the RV Industry.

I think that is one of the biggest problems today with the RV industry. People just accept the way things are, like the old adage “because we’ve always done it this way!” We wouldn’t accept this if it was our car, toaster, washer and dryer or other item we bought.

Let’s say you found you’re perfect car. You shop around and find the best price in another town. When you inspect it you find some defects. Your dealer corrects all of them, you purchase the vehicle, and drive away with a big grin! The next few months and many miles are trouble free.

You decide to go on a road trip across the country. You get about a thousand or more miles from home when the AC quits working or some other problem. You find the nearest dealer, and they tell you they can’t fit it in for a few months because they have so many other cars from the same manufactures with the same problem. You drive it with no AC until you get back home.

When you get home you go to your local dealer (but not the one you bought it from). The dealer tells you that will they will not work on it because you didn’t buy it from them! You call other dealers and they either tell you the same thing or are too busy or want you to pay cash because thery lose money on warranty work. You finally find a dealer that will work on it, but they tell you will have to leave there for a month. When you call a month later they tell you it’s not ready and will be another 2 weeks. When the 2 weeks are up you go the dealer and find out that they haven’t even looked at it yet. They finally get in the shop and fix it. You pick it up and before you get it home the AC stops working. You head back to dealer to have fixed again (hopefully for the last time).

Over the next 2 -3 years (or until just before your warranty runs out (after you have other problems fixed and losing the use of your vehicle for weeks or months at a time) you make a “punch list” and then drive to factory to have these items repaired before the warranty expires. Hopefully after the time at the factory all of the poor quality, mechanical problems, and other things that have gone wrong with your vehicle are fixed and you can now really enjoy your car.

Now I know that I have probably exasdurated allot of this, but that was to make my point. We wouldn’t accept this on our car, so why do we accept it on our RVs? The reason it takes so long to get something get into the dealer to get something fixed is because of poor workmanship and quality control at the factory. The manufacturer needs to put as much emphasis on the dealer with after sales service as much as they do on sales.

I remember when American made cars would only made it to about 50 to 75 thousand miles before the engine required a major overhaul. Japanese cars were the jokes of the auto industry. Then the Japanese stepped up their game thereby forcing the American auto industry to step up their game or be left behind. I have a 1992 Jeep Cherokee that has over 242 thousand miles on it and still going strong. The only problems I have had were to replace two radiators and three exhaust systems. I have a 2014 Chevy Silverado with over 52 thousand miles, and nary a problem.

When we stop accepting these problems, it will get better. Okay, that’s the end of my rant

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Old 10-12-2016, 05:15 PM   #2
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so you are suggesting when import are bunch of Japanese rv's and all will be magically fixed?

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Old 10-12-2016, 05:26 PM   #3
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It's called competition and if a foreign company can make a better product for less then I'm for it. It was foreign competition that forced us auto makers to stop selling junk.
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Old 10-12-2016, 05:42 PM   #4
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RVs didn't used to be built like trash. Old companies like Holiday Rambler built excellent RVs. My parents owned a TT in the early 80s that was Bui!t in the late 60s. It was Bui!t like a tank. Our first 5th wheel was a HR and it was the same way

I believe that part if the problem is an increasing number of people who are not only willing to settle for junk but then expect to live in it when it was clearly not meant for that . They are also blinded by glitz, don't do their home work
And buy the first thing they fall in love with

But this is coming from someone who has never considered a new RV, but rather high end used. But that's our choice
Ron & Linda
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Old 10-12-2016, 05:59 PM   #5
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There are definitely manufacturers out there that do care. If you can't afford new then buy used for better quality.
Full-timed for 16 Years
. . . Back in S&B Again
Traveled in a 2004 Newmar Dutch Star 40' Diesel
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Old 10-12-2016, 06:22 PM   #6
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Interesting points. The RV Tech at an RV Service Center (not a dealer) told me to hang on to my Suncruiser as long as I can. He told me it was one of the quality years Winnebago built, not like the new ones.
Tom and Gloria
2007 Itasca Suncruiser 35A, TOAD: 2015 GMC Canyon, Blue Ox Towbar, Baseplate and SMI Stay N Play
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Old 10-12-2016, 06:38 PM   #7
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I could list a ton of differences between auto v.s. RV manufacturing......I'll give just one that I think is significant........the rest of you can add to the list.

Human hands v.s. robotics and computer automation. Even the painting of autos is largely done by robotics.

The happiest RV owner is the person who bought the one made during the period of time when that particular maker had the perfect but temporary set of variables in place.....that being when the best group of employees worked there with the most collective skill and caring to build a true and quality product. That goes on for a while then inevitably it changes. People retire or quit or die, personnel are shifted around, new and sometimes inexperienced altogether folks are hired and trained etc. So it just keeps changing.

All makes have that period of time, sometimes more than once, sometimes only once. Some have yet to have that occur possibly. The challenge for quality control folks who really have a passion for what I described, is to achieve that and make it run that way as long as possible.

The mystery for us RVers is interesting to ponder considering your favorite brand. When was this golden time period? Is it right now, or 10 years ago lasting for 3 years, when?

With demand and sales seeming to increase, (good for industry approaching 50 billion annually) the golden time period phenomenon I speak of may get shorter and harder to maintain for some manufacturers. Whether it be private owned or public.

Best regards,
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:36 PM   #8
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Most RV assembly lines are less sophisticated than what Ford used for the Model T. The variety of floor plans means little real engineering goes into them. The complexity of slides doesn't help.
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:51 PM   #9
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Before things can improve, the manufacturers have to cross the river De Nile.

RVs are complex machines with components made by many sub-contractors & manufacturers. QA & QC problems can occur at any level as we know from "real world" experience. Denying you have a problem or minimizing its impact on a customer's experience is not a good business practice. There's a huge amount of "wooden headedness" in the RV business.

IMO, the warranty is an mostly empty promise for reasons we already know: 300 miles to dealer; long waits for appointments & longer for parts; and, the infamous "didn't buy it here." And, general incompetency at the tech level. Add your own, here....

My boss, in one of his more lucid moments, said: "There's never time or money to do the job RIGHT the FIRST time; there always enough time and money to MAKE IT RIGHT the SECOND (or third) time. It's true. And that is one failing of the industry but of course they really never get around to making it right...ever.

Maybe we have been lucky with our three RVs. Having them blessed by my good friend, a Native American Elder, works. All have had minimal issues and I take a pragmatic and perhaps a business view of problems. Failed microwave in a 2 month old RV. Warranty replacement. Dripping connections behind the valves in the shower? Piffft! Fix it myself for $5 in parts, 10 miles of driving and 1 1/2 hours of my time. We have one of those Coleman Mach 8 heat pumps. It's called "Mach" because it sounds like a J-79 turbojet in reheat. Fixed it my self with some clever MacGyver mods. Not worth even talking to WBGO or Coleman and wasting months of my time.

Oh...about those self oiling LP regulators WBGO installs. They know. They hope they will just go away rather than recall and replace the cheap component if it fails...and fails again. Cheaper to fix it than screw with WBGO.

Solution? It is going to take owners with problems to flash mob corporate in social media to get their attention. Astute corporate managers, seeing what happens to a couple of their competitors MAY heed the message that it is cheaper and more efficient to do the job right the first time and quickly fix customer problems than to stall and do a "fresh air treatment" hoping the customer will go away.

As to the not bought here problem... Mfgr's write the contracts with their dealers. You put it in their contract... If it wears our livery and brand you WILL attend to the customer's needs...even it its one of our other product lines. To wit: WBGO vs Itasca brands. If you,Don' take care of the customer we will find someone who will, even if we have to send in a Tiger Team to get it done.
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:12 PM   #10
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Most of us are not going to wait for a foreign manufacturer that's not coming.
We give it our best shot, and then enjoy and complain, enjoy and complain, enjoy and complain,... etc, etc. RVing is hard work. Next time, I'll choose wisely (it'll be my 7th one).
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Cloud Dancer View Post
Next time, I'll choose wisely (it'll be my 7th one).

Oh by the way Old Crows, a few of us may like to make an appointment with your Native American Elder friend.

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Old 10-13-2016, 06:26 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cloud Dancer View Post
Most of us are not going to wait for a foreign manufacturer that's not coming.
Correct. The RV industry as is known in the US is not even on the radar in other countries. If you've ever rented an RV in Asia or Europe, you know most are class B "camper vans" sprinkled with the occasional barebones Class C (by US standards). RVs in North America are pretty much an exclusive market not seen elsewhere. (except possibly China, which mostly copies what we do.)
I will never buy a new RV. Our 11 year old Winnebago Aspect has 87,000 miles on it and we are the second owner. We have had very little problems with it, as I suspect the first owner dealt with the bugs and warranty issue.
I'm actually considering installing hydraulic levelers on it because it's the one option I wish we had.
Burns & Diane
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Old 10-13-2016, 06:47 AM   #13
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I am a new RV'er and have a one year old coach now. I have had very few problems with my coach and have had great warranty service from Fleetwood. Maybe i got lucky or maybe i just new what i was getting into. I have over 14,000 miles my first year and for a part timer i think that is pretty significant. We take our coach out any and every chance we get, even for short weekend trips. We would rather drive the RV than our car for anything we overnight for. It is slower to get there but the comfort and hotel cost are way better. I would stay in my coach in a bare bones RV park before the nicest hotel and driving it is much more comfortable for me and the family than a car. I tend to drive long times ( 6-10 hours) just because we are part-timing and getting there is half our travel plan.

Could QC and manufacture quality improve? of course, i think that is always true from a consumer point of view. I know fleetwood has opened 3 new service centers and i now have one within 200 miles. I will take that over any other service option i have, even if i have to pay for service on my coach. I will try to learn everything i can and correct any errors myself, but know there are some things that for me are worth the money to pay for a competent service person to do and not me.
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Old 10-13-2016, 06:48 AM   #14
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Interesting discussion. I think that trying to compare an 11 year old RV to today's RV's is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. Multiple slides, many of them full wall, collision avoidance systems, complex electronics systems, and the list goes on when you look at the strides the industry has made in the last 11 years. Compare your 11 year old car to the new ones and you can see that it really isn't a fair comparison.

I would agree that many accept the status quo as being "just the way it is" and they will accept that. On another forum I read about a woman who had her rig at the factory for over 110 days. The response of those who post on that forum was that it was just wonderful that the manufacturer would fix her rig. Seriously? Somehow the line between customer loyalty and blind acceptance seems to get blurred. That particular brand has a very loyal following that will purchase the same brand each time regardless of the problems they are facing.

The auto industry has a much more stringent control on both the construction of the vehicle, the maintenance of it, and the dealer network. The RV industry has not developed that yet with individual dealerships handling multiple different brands of motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and even pop-ups. The stocking of parts, hiring of technicians, and general customer service become an issue when so many brands and models are involved at one dealership. Autos tend to have much less OEM equipment than RV's which also contributes to the problems that RV owners face.

There is no easy answer to the problems that an evolving industry is facing. For now we will have to accept what is there with both the good, the bad, and the ugly. The next downturn may sort out some of the bad players, but don't necessarily bet on it.

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