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Old 02-21-2021, 11:42 AM   #1
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What is QUALITY

I’m fairly new to RVing and just found this forum. Looks like a ton of experience and knowledge here. My wife and I are shopping for a 30 foot Class A. We’ve used a Class C 27 footer and know our mission is occasionally (monthly) visiting Family & friends, attending events and traveling short term trips. Not living in it. So I started asking about reviews of certain Makes and Models and discovered pros and cons for everything. I’ve tried to figure out if the coach I’m considering is a quality build, but can’t. I’ve looked up the list of top ten Class As and then the top ones to avoid and the same RVs make both lists.

So what is RV quality?

I’m looking at the Holiday Rambler 28 and 29 footers and then I see the exact same thing with the Fleetwood and Coachman name on them? What is with that?

I read the reviews and some buyers give a 1 star because a screw came out and some buyers giving 5 stars with no complaints. Where is the truth? Or perhaps it’s all just relative. One friend tells me only Newmar is quality. But others say Thor is the most popular for a reason. Does price reveal the quality? Does quality matter if I’m just a tripper and not a live-in.

I’ve worked a bit on RVs and I’ve seen the screw that missed what it was supposed to screw into, and I’ve seen the messy wire runs. Are all motor homes questionable quality under the skins? Doesn’t both me because I like fixing stuff.

Finally is buying new with a warranty a wise thing to do, or is looking for a 2 year old RV a better idea because the bugs will be worked out? And initial depreciation will be off price. My wife likes new.

Your insights on RV quality and thoughts or warnings about what to watch out for are appreciated. And if you know of a good book that explains the industry and manufacturing please post title.

Truly appreciated. Thanks
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:49 AM   #2
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So what is RV quality? Money
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:56 AM   #3
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I think you will find that it is quite unlike other major manufacturing industries, “quality” here is quite subjective and no one seems to keep industry wide statistics like you’d see with JD Powers and autos. The RV industry doesn’t have a consistent quality control program or even standards, and the general expectation is always caveat emptor and expect problems, even in brand new units.

You’ll hear a number of excuses for this as well, and take them all with a grain of salt. They all eventually succumb to the seduction of capitalism deliver a barely acceptable product in ever larger numbers. They mostly share OE suppliers for main components including frames and suspensions so they all suffer similar failures.


Read, look, and inspect. A lot.

#goodluck
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:08 PM   #4
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A friend up the road a mile does all of our maintenance and he also does a lot of different RVs which I visit and take a look at. I've seen some pretty shoddy wood work and such, but all in all most manufacturers use the same chassis and components. Most complaints come from that and the manufacturer has little input on how these work. i.e. furnaces, frigs, ACs. engines, transmissions, even slides, ect.

I pay attention to how the rig has been maintained and how well the cabin is put together. I've seen some pretty shoddy wood work as well as upholstery. Just take a close work at the workmanship, that's what varies a lot.
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:15 PM   #5
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Hi Steve! Welcome to IRV2! We're sure glad you joined us!

Money doesn't necessarily buy quality, unless you're looking at maybe Prevost or Newell. Personally, I would never buy a new MH. I would much prefer to buy one maybe 2-3 years old. Hopefully by that time the original purchaser has got all the sloppy work done at the factory corrected! Also, he will have taken the huge depreciation hit when driving off the sales lot! JMHO

Good luck, happy trails, and God bless!
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:24 PM   #6
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“Quality” is kinda like “pretty” ..... you get to decide.
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:38 PM   #7
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this lists “who makes what” down towards the bottom of the page. Among other things, it shows that Coachman is a FR product, HR and Fleetwood are owned by the REV group.

https://campaddict.com/rv-manufacturers/

There are few major manufacturers and the list keeps getting shorter as the big companies absorb the smaller ones. The “big four” are now Winnebago, REV, Thor and Forest River. Tiffin was the latest to be gobbled up, having been acquired by Thor in December, and Newmar was absorbed by Winnebago early last year. I’m certain the quality of these two builders will survive for a couple years before any major changes take place, and I’m not too worried about Newmar’s acquisition by Winnebago, but time will tell.

Hope this helps eliminate some of the confusion. I think Thor coaches are perhaps more “popular” because of the lower price point. On the new vs used debate, lately I’ve seen 2-3 year old coaches priced around or even above the 70% of MSRP mark. If you can still get a 30% discount it might be worthwhile to go new, but with the covid influenced market craziness these days, that may no longer be possible. Shop RVT and RV Trader, search nation wide, and when you’ve decided on a brand and model, post it here for more pros, cons, experiences, etc. Also be prepared to jump on a good deal when it appears - they don’t last long.

From my experience and studies, if I were buying a new or used gas class A right now I would stick with Tiffin or Newmar. Just my personal preference. Ive owned Thor, FR, and Newmar, my son has a Jayco (Thor), had a Sierra (FR), my daughter had a Salem (FR) TT, and by a noticeable margin, my old 2010 Bay Star was built to a higher quality standard than any of them. I’m a Newmar fan, but some of the Tiffin offerings seem more attractive (visually) and seem to show more innovative features. Just seemingly a little more modern I guess.
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:47 PM   #8
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If your Motorhome or Travel Trailer is at the repair shop a lot it is bad quality if not is good quality
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:47 PM   #9
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A couple more notes on quality:

Since all current and recent gas Class A coaches (I’m assuming this is the market you’re looking at) are built on the same Ford F53 chassis, there is little difference from the frame rails down. Perhaps some dealer add-ons for handling or towing, and some builders use higher rated chassis for the same size coaches, but a Ford is a Ford, quality wise.

Also as you look at various coach offerings you’ll see pretty much the same appliances in all of them. Some have higher end appliances, some more budget conscious, but pretty much the same manufacturers.

So the thing to look at is the quality of the house build. Some manufacturers show more detail on building materials and methods than others. This is fairly telling in itself. But things that fall apart and/or cause problems are usually cabinets and trim, windows and doors, roof design and type, and slides. Also insulation values differ quite a bit between the various builders.

And just to confuse things a bit, Newmar, one of the best in this market, had a lot of trouble with Lippert windows from around 2018 to 2020. Libbert bought Hehr which previously supplied Newmar, ( https://www.lci1.com/archive/2018/02...international/) and the troubles very soon began. So even the best builders have their share of problems. This is of course an argument in favor of either buying new, or if you can save $10k on a lightly used one, buy an extended warranty.

Also on new vs used, the new F53 (https://www.ford.com/commercial-truc...f53-motorhome/) has some handling improvements, and most notedly, the new V8 which, aside from some early glitches (spark plug wire issues etc) is getting some very good reviews. And certainly the 6 speed (2016 and on?) is a big improvement. Anything that helps to keep the rpm down on the V10 is an improvement.
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Old 02-21-2021, 03:29 PM   #10
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Worked in the aircraft QA business for over 20 years. Spent one year looking at assembly plants for planes, cars, boats, even the space shuttle looking for good ideas. Went to one RV plant and have been to two others. In my opinion the biggest difference for RVs is they are hard to automate the operations, unlike the production of autos. Its a lot of one or two workers and most of the QA is done in stages. We have had two motor homes and three trailers and even with a careful acceptance inspection they all went back for corrective action. Even the most expensive one had to have a little rework. RV owners general can do a little repair themselves which is helpful and keep up the regular maintenance.
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:51 PM   #11
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Does price equal quality? Airstream makes a Mercedes based RV that starts at $244K. Leisure Vans makes a Mercedes based RV that starts at $144K. Is there an additional $100K of quality in the Airstream?

Is quantity, volume or popularity, quality? McDonalds sells a lot of hamburgers. People buy them and seem to enjoy them. Does that make them a quality burger?

Your friend that said only Newmar makes quality coaches, probably owns a Newmar.

Quality is one of those things that is difficult to describe but you know it when you see it. There are many shiny objects which conceal poor quality. You’ll know it when you see it.
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:41 PM   #12
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My first thought was we were going to discuss "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". No, no metaphysics today.
But anyway. One thing that makes me feel that my coach is of somewhat higher quality than average is that it has cabinets all made of actual wood rather than laminated particle board.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:02 PM   #13
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What is quality?

It's the thing everyone wants but only if it's visible, touchable, etc. If "quality" isn't kind of obvious how do we know it's really there? (insert joke about trees in the woods, etc)

Is quality a lack of faults at delivery, or ease of service when needed? Is quality a matter of aesthetic design choices (veneers, textiles, shapes) or fit and finish? Precision of assembly of house infrastructure?

Truth be told, it's all of those and customer support and warranty service, too.

So back to my first statement, "bling" (features) sell because they're generally visible - house automation, sophisticated AV systems, outdoor kitchens and TVs. But random staples and bad gluing vs precise stapling and adhesives? How does one know? Likewise for HVAC ducting, or the workmanship behind the plumbing and electrical wiring?

But regardless of we may call quality, the overall condition of RVs at the time of delivery will not improve until buyers reject the current level of defects with their feet and cheque books.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:23 PM   #14
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First, What is Quality...Definition: ISO 9001 is defined as the international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system (QMS). Organizations use the standard to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. It is the most popular standard in the ISO 9000 series and the only standard in the series to which organizations can certify.

Answer: NO RV MANUFACTURER HAS AN ISO 9001 CERTIFICATION / QMS SYSTEM IN THEIR MANUFACTURING PLANT. (that I could find)

Is a $140,000 RV built better than a $35,000 RV? In some respects, I think so, which just tells me you can't compare the two to each other.

I'm not a full timer either. We just wanted to spend the last several years of our lives while we had the health and mobility to enjoy it, with an RV to explorer things differently from what we've done in the past. Is it a good investment....NO but it's the last chance to do it, so you make the best decision you can and get on with it.
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