After being inside for months on end, younger families are itching to take to the open road. They want fresh air and adventure. And what better way to find that outdoor adventure than in an RV?
RV sales have been booming in recent months, so much that customers are waiting weeks or even months for a new travel trailer or RV. The market is hot and customers are scrambling to choose an RV adventure either by fixing up a used travel trailer or buying a new one.
Not all adventures are created equally
The idyllic fantasy of traveling down the open road in a new, shiny RV is amazing and liberating. But the experience can become less impressive when you start to read RV reviews from some unprepared new RV owners. Companies are churning out RVs as quickly as they possibly can to help families get on the road, and many customers are buying new trailers without understanding the difference between campers and cars. A few online reviews through websites like PissedConsumer.com are detailing the issues customers are discovering.
From leaks to misalignments, customers are looking to manufacturers and RV dealers for solutions. According to complaints on review websites like PissedConsumer.com, many customers are finding out that buying an RV is just the beginning of your family’s new adventure. Knowing how to buy an RV and handle the maintenance and warranty work is another thing altogether. That’s why it’s important for you to understand a few industry and RV tips before signing on any dotted lines.
RVs are mobile earthquakes
The first thing every potential RV owner should keep in mind is that RVs are rolling earthquakes. That means that the contents of your RV or travel trailer are going to be constantly rattled and shaken as you drive along. RVs are different from both houses and cars in this respect.
Rattling and shaking aren’t great for wires, hoses, connections, and components in the camper, not to mention items in cabinets or on countertops. RV owners are responsible for repairing damage caused by movement, including examining and replacing seals around doors and windows. If you’re considering a new or used camper, expect the routine maintenance that comes along with the adventures on the open road.
There is a lot that can go wrong in a moving vehicle that is always on the go. Among the RV reviews on the PissedConsumer website, one new toy hauler owner discovered that typical wear and tear on trailers caused by road travel are not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
According to Robert, he bought a new Heartland Edge toy hauler. He explained that “the slide in the bedroom leaks water somewhere on the bottom and has rotted out. Had it at the dealer several times and heartland wouldn’t authorize a repair on it even though it was still under the 1-year warranty. They said that was my responsibility.” A similar leak and delamination problem happened on another window in his trailer, and that was also determined to be the owner’s responsibility.
Not all dealers are created equally
Where you go to buy your camper matters. Just like with cars, some RV dealers try to simply move vehicles as quickly as possible and don’t worry about a positive relationship with customers. Others pride themselves on their integrity and hope to impress customers for repeat sales and future recommendations.
The fastest way to check on an RV dealer’s online reputation is to read online reviews. Read enough review websites and you’ll quickly learn that some large dealerships and chains have well-established reputations among RV owners. Even if you don’t read enough to determine wide-spread opinions within the camping communities, reading through a few reviews can give you an idea of individual dealerships.
In the case of Lanard, a customer of Camping World in a Texas town, the dealership was given $20,000 to repair fire damage to her RV. Lanard explains, “My insurance company National General Insurance paid almost $20,000 to bring my THEN, 90-Day-Old RV back to 100%.” She continues, “Nothing was repaired or replaced!”
She later comes back to update her post to explain that the dealer wound up “cashing over $20,000 in insurance checks and doing no work on my RV thereby causing it to be worth substantially less and still in need of major repairs.”
As you research dealerships, pay attention to a few key elements:
- How big is the dealership? A dealership trying to move dozens of campers per week will likely feel less personal than a smaller business moving less inventory, but you will likely have a wider selection of trailers.
- Can the dealership handle repairs? Warranty work is a thing most campers need, so be sure the dealership can handle the repairs in typical RV repair times.
- What do the reviews say? If there are hundreds or even thousands of reviews online, be wary as you approach the company with your business.
Ultimately, your choice of dealer will depend on location, inventory, brands available, and pricing. But when you have a choice, opt for the dealer with the best reputation.
Warranty work can take a long time
Most RVs come with a one-year warranty from the manufacturer. New RV owners are encouraged to take their new camper out as soon as possible and test all the systems to get used to their new RV, but also to find any issues before they become worse.
When issues are discovered, owners are expected to take the camper back to the dealer where a work order must be submitted to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then authorizes the repair, sends the parts as needed, and finally the repair happen. Unlike with vehicle dealerships, repairs for RVs take time. Warranty work is not going to be done in a day or even in a week, so new camper owners need to plan accordingly when making travel plans and reservations.
In a normal buying period, repairs made under warranty can take weeks to sort out the communication required between you, the dealer, and the manufacturer. It’s not a weekend repair in most cases, even if the issue seems small. In a busy market, when manufacturers are racing to produce campers and dealers are working to sell them as quickly as possible, warranty repair work can take even longer.
In the best scenarios, repairs under warranty can take up to a month. But as some customers have discovered, warranty repairs aren’t a priority when the RV sales market is hot. Brandon, an online RV reviewer, learned how painful the wait for warranty work can be when he turned his new camper over for warranty work and found himself without a home.
According to Brandon, who was using his new Keystone camper as his home in Connecticut, you can take your camper “to a dealership where it’s bound to sit for days on end waiting for warranty approval work and for parts. But wait there’s more!!! In the meantime you just lost your home that you’re using for work or play (neither in which I would recommend), and will have to find a place to stay.”
Another RVer, Brooke, who also left an online review about her family’s new KZ camper has had a similar experience with a prolonged warranty repair. In her family’s case, the dealership was sold to a new owner, the paperwork was delayed and then couldn’t be processed. They finally had to find another dealership to handle the warranty issues, but after months the warranty work was denied.
According to the review, her family was told, “We could bring the camper, at our own expense, over 500 miles for them to evaluate. Then at a ‘reduced’ shop rate they would repair it.” Ultimately the family decided on another option.
A camper is a great way to find adventure and take your family on the road
But as you prepare to buy your first camper, take a moment to understand the reality of a traveling camper. Campers require a bit of know-how, but those with the freedom to hit the open road would say it’s definitely worth it.
A rolling home is a large investment. A new camper represents freedom, adventure, and exploration of what makes our country great. Don’t spoil your plans for fabulous travel by failing to do your research before buying a new camper. Take the time to understand the industry and the products you’re buying, and you’ll enjoy that new RV as a seriously happy camper.