Buying your first RV can be a daunting, exhilarating experience and if you do your home work it can be a wonderful retreat.
Keep in mind “BUYER BEWARE” when looking at those shiny, new, homes on wheels.
Since 2010 I have owned two travel trailers and one 5th wheel. Two of these RV’s have had severe delamination problems.
Anyone who has had to file a “Lemon Law Complaint” will tell you it’s a long, arduous procedure, something you will want to avoid at all costs.
The first question you should ask yourself is “do you really want a new RV”? I was under the misunderstanding that buying new meant you had something that would be trouble free and if something did go wrong with it you can have the dealership do the warranty work. I’m living proof that this is not true. Experience with buying a NEW RV can be compared to buying a used car from a dealer.
When you shop for an RV the salesperson quickly becomes your best friend. They assure you that the product they are trying to sell you is in prime condition and you don’t have to worry because the manufacturer warranty will cover anything that goes wrong in the first year. They will go on to assure you of the “fine craftsmanship” and “excellent service” provided by the dealership and Manufacturer. They will also tell you they only sell products they endorse. Just remember they are trying to sell you a vehicle that probably will not be by the time the loan has been paid.
The sad truth is that most of these salespersons have now idea how the newer units made of shiny Luan – Filon – is not as durable as they would like you to think it is. Remember what a disaster the T-11 siding was for home building? Well thats what you have with the “new”, “lightweight”, exterior walls of most new RV’s, travel trailers and fifth wheels.
The towing weight is another consideration that you will need to verify with your truck manufacturer and the weight of the RV that you are wanting to buy. The GVWR is the maximum weight that your vehicle/truck can tow. This is also referred to as the “gross vehicle weight rating” (GVWR). Basically, your vehicles GVWR need to be higher than the towing weight of your RV.
Trucks usually have this information displayed on the inside, drivers door. The RV 5th Wheel or Travel Trailer should have the GVWR (weight of fully loaded RV) on the side of the door.
Second thing to look for is delamination of either the sides or roof. Looking directly on the sides down the sides of the coach should be smooth and not rippled, waved, or have any bubbles, or uneven areas. Same with the roof. The roof should be smooth with the rubber tightly against roof, no cracks or discoloration.
Manufacturers and RV dealerships are selling defective RV’s knowing most people not not know what they at looking at and by the time the customer realizes the problems with their new RV, it will be past the one year warranty. In my case the delaminating, on a new 5th wheel, had been covered up and spot repaired prior to delivery to selling the dealer who then goes through and fixes any damages caused during transportation. Six months later these repairs are popping back out because it wasn’t fixed properly the first time. The dealers goal is to stretch out the repairs, or leave them incomplete, stringing you along until it’s past the warranty and to late to do anything about it.
You can check out most manufacturer’s online through their brand “user forums”. Reading the posts on these forums will let you know the models that are having the most problems and what the problems are. The two RV’s I’ve had problems with were both light weight models and when I did a search on the manufacturer websites I found several posts with similar problems that were not being adequately repaired.
Moral of this post is do your home work, do the online research, and assume the salesperson is trying to sell you more than you can afford and they are trying to sell you the units that have been on the lot the longest. My first unit had been on the dealers lot long enough for the underside to rust out. Too bad I didn’t know enough to look underneath and go on the roof to examine it and see that it was bubbling.
As far as service goes, most RV dealerships will try to do the least amount possible to get you out of their hair. I have to bring my unit back 3 to 6 times before the dealer actually addresses the major issues. Hanging out in the waiting area for repairs is a great way to get a good idea of how the dealership treats its customers and how the customers feel about the dealership and the products they have bought from the dealer. Someone waiting in a waiting room for a repair on a BRAND NEW ITEM is very eager to share their experience.
I have one friend that purchased a travel trailer from Lone Star RV and were allowed to bring it back after deciding it was to small for them for a 100% trade on a larger unit. The seller was very accommodating and attentive. My friends had a very pleasant experience with Lone Star RV and they, recommend Lone Star RV whenever asked.
I bought my second RV from Ron Hoover in LaMarque and had a good experience. The unit was a 21′ travel trailer. It was a well made, small, trailer with no major problems. I’ve recently purchased a new 5th Wheel from Ron Hoover that has been nothing but problems. It has been in the shop over 200 days (45 days was the longest at one time). Always taking several trips to get the repairs actually done and 3/4 of the time I find something has been damaged from the repair work. The service department management had changed and the new managers were not as dedicated to actually taking care of problems.
Do your homework, talk to other owners, search the internet, and don’t buy impulsively.