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Old 02-23-2012, 07:38 AM   #1
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How Does One Determine Quality Before Purchase

This started as a question about Thor Motor Coach Serrantos. That thread blossomed and has led me to a larger question. So I began this thread, hopefully, positively stated as opposed to manufacturer bashing (tho, that can be fun).

I've had four motorhomes over the years. The most expensive was the worse in terms of coach quality. The least expensive the best. All the chassis (Freightliner, Peak, Ford x2) have been great, no problems. Just the house. Now part of the equation may be expectations. I paid more thus I expected more; paid less, fewer expectations. Having said that, regardless of price, I expected none of them to leak and a couple did. So my question:

How do you determine the quality of a unit during the buying process? What clues you would use next time to assess a unit's quality prior to purchase?

I suspect most of us don't have enough cash or wherewithal for the trial and error method.

As the market taught me: Past experience is not predictor of future results.

Please let me know what has worked and what hasn't.

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Old 02-23-2012, 08:26 AM   #2
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My 2 cents would be that generally the more expensive the MH the more complicated. Therefore more things to go wrong. Simple many times is better.

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Old 02-23-2012, 08:31 AM   #3
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Howdy Richard. You should know from your own experience that it seems to be a roll of the dice thing! Most of us look at the fit and finish, as well as the quality of materials used in construction. Usually if care was taken on the "visible" parts, care was also taken on the parts you can't see...but that's not always the case. Our buying experience is extremely limited, since we have only purchased one RV and luckily have had no real problems to speak of. (And I agree with your assessment that paying less does lower expectations, so maybe that's the key!)
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:58 AM   #4
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I listened carefully to other owners but took no one's words as gospel w/o thoroughly checking things out myself. I inspected any RV I could get hands & eyes on, pushing, pulling, prodding every surface I could see or feel. That began to give me an idea of fit, finish, and construction quality of various brand names. I cruised consumer feedback websites, rv'er sites, and for sale listings to get a sense of owner satisfaction, and also to get an idea of number of specific brand rigs for sale compared to original market share. A brand with lots of late model rigs for sale used compared to other brands with similar market share was a possible red flag (owner satisfaction). All that allowed me to narrow the selection considerably, and to then focus on just a few brand names and zero in on a few years/models within those brand names. Then I bought what I felt was the best I could afford among the very few I had focused into.

It worked for us ...8 years and over 60k miles of full timing and we've seen only rig that we were even mildly interested in as a replacement, but still like the one we got better.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:33 AM   #5
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I think each buyer has different expectations for what makes a quality coach. What may be a huge concern to one, may be small potatoes to another. I personally never expect to find the "perfect" coach. I search for what comes the closest to my goal, and then insure that whatever is missing from that goal can be rectified, hopefully by me, and inexpensively. All this of course, within my financial capabilities. I usually do a lot of research and looking, rather than taking other peoples experiences with the product, for the above reasons.
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Old 02-23-2012, 02:27 PM   #6
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Hi RoadRohrers,
Consider going to the factory and see how the coach is actually built. The condition of the factory assembly area and the people who do the work.
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Old 02-23-2012, 06:25 PM   #7
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I like to take along a small flashlight and look back in the corners, behind cabinets and such to see how much attention was spent on the little details. How well the structure is assembled, how well the wiring and plumbing is run, how good is the quality of the materials and upholstery and how well it is put together in general.

True, that the higher end units will have more bells and whistles and they are more potential for problems.

Just look at a lot of different manufacturers and see where corners are cut.

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Old 02-24-2012, 04:55 AM   #8
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Thanks. I thought get more response based on number of complaints about poor quality rev's. This was not for so mmuch but all who come to IRV2 for advice. Maybe some ways to see past the cut-glass and eye candy first impressions. After numerous rvs. I, personally, take as much apart as dealer will allow. Most dealers not happy to have access panels opened (I always close them.) Happy and safe travels
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:10 AM   #9
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IMO, a good rule of thumb, is the more you pay the more you get. Now that doesn't necessarily mean quality. In fact it relates to ginger bread most of the time. Take any marquis. The "quality" of all their models will probably be the same. The price varies based on "ginger bread". You can't by a high quality unit such as a Marathon Prevost, Newell or Foretravel for the same price of any model of a Bounder.

To assure you get top quality, i would suggest you look at models of an older Country Coach, Monaco or Foretravel, to name a few. That will give you an idea of what to look for in a newer unit. You might decide to get an older unit. You get good stuff for a lot less money. Used RVs are bargin priced these days, which leaves a lot of money to remodel if necessary.

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Old 02-24-2012, 12:18 PM   #10
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If I'm remembering your other post right, many of the replies were more about "heirarchy" than build quality.

As you specifically mentioned thor.... they are known for building entry level products. Lower line chassis and engines and sometime fixtures and appointments, keep the price down.

That simply doesn't address build quality. Thor could very well, and probably does, build a quality product.

Tiffin for example is known to build a fairly high end product. That just don't mean each one is screwed together by someone who gives a damn... very time.

Look at it. Work it. Open and close the cabinet doors. It will quickly become apparent whet level of build quality u are dealing with.
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Old 02-26-2012, 12:02 AM   #11
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My parents had an Airstream Excella 500 and a Foretravel MH. The RV club we belonged to only had about 12 motorhomes, one was a Prevost and six were Newmars. So, after the disaster of owning a '98 Santara we bought Newmars due to personal knowledge of quality/price direct from friends/owners.
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Old 03-02-2012, 06:38 PM   #12
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I look at systems and construction first. Check the way the switches are set up (cheap rigs will have one switch for lights in a room -- better ones will have a switch at each end. like your stick house), dump valves, wiring routing, etc. I found that firms that do a good job engineering these things seem to build a quality product.

I also visited each plant where our short list of coaches were built -- this was very revealing. We visited 4 or 5 factories and quickly narrowed our search to two based on our visits. I would encourage you to do the same.

We are on our second fulltime coach and both have been super with respect to quality and usability.

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Old 03-02-2012, 06:52 PM   #13
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I build vehicles for a living from the ground up. We build the chassis to our design, suspension, wiring, hydraulics(brakes) and body. Raw steel to turn key in house. Two of us start to finish. I know where some cut corners and others have quality. You just have to look.

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