Buying an RV is a huge investment for any customer. As you’re spending a serious amount of money, you want to ensure that you are purchasing a high-performance product that is durable, well-constructed and delivers everything you need from the RV.
Common complaints include battery and charging issues, leaks and rusting, poor craftmanship and bad customer service. Here are 9 RV brands we don’t recommend.
Red Flags to Indicate an RV Brand Should be Avoided
It’s hard to determine the quality of an RV without seeing it in person. When you do see it, here are some red flags to look out for when investing in an RV.
RV frames are generally crafted using wood, aluminium, or steel. Aluminium offers the superior level of durability and is light weight, rust-free and fuel efficient. Steel is second best. Wooden frames are a massive red flag as they have a short lifespan and are time consuming to maintain. There should never be any irregularities such as dents, indentations or scratches visible.
RV roofs are generally made from fiberglass, rubber, or aluminium. Once again, aluminium is by far the most durable and easiest maintain. RV brands that use rubber roofs should be avoided as this material lacks the durability of aluminium or fiberglass, yet it expensive to maintain. Any RV not constructed from one long sheet that overlaps the front and rear panels should be avoided as it will lack the stability and protection required.
Did you know:
The cost of replacing a rubber roof can be as high as $8,000!
Vinyl is the best choice for the floor as it’s the easiest to maintain and is versatile, lightweight and highly durable. Red flags in RVs are when slate and ceramic are used. These materials are cold to the touch and can crack on rough roads. They do not handle the vibrations of the road well, despite their luxurious aesthetic, making them a big red flag.
RV ceilings are either covered in vinyl or fabric. Vinyl looks sleek and elegant, is resistant to stains and much easier to maintain. The only downside is that minor leaks will be difficult to detect and will usually go unnoticed until the situation becomes serious. An RV that uses fabric has cut corners and will be harder to look after.
- AC Filters
Always ask a seller to turn on the air conditioning. If it doesn’t feel or sound right, remove the inside cover and check the filter. The filter should never be dirty. If this is dirty, it’s a sign that the owner has not correctly maintained the vehicle.
9 Worst RV Brands to Avoid
Thor Hurricane has been connected to multiple problems and safety recalls. This brand of RV has previously had safety issues connected to the battery, the exhaust, parking brake and the seats. It is notorious for moving forward, even when the parking brake is engaged.
Did you know:
Thor Hurricane has had over 50 recalls over the years.
The parking brake issues can cause a fire in the wheel column since the brake will heat up when the vehicle is moving. Aside from this technical issue, they don’t have the durability and are crafted using very poor-quality materials. Although lower in price, the Thor Hurricane is not worth the money! Here is a breakdown of just some of the most common customer complaints with this make of RV:
- Parking brake failure
- Charging issues with hose batteries
- 12-volt system failure
- Interior fabrics quickly wear down
- Poor customer service
- Auto-stabilizer jacks are ooze hydraulic fluid
Although Coachmen were a well-respected brand, their quality has dipped in recent years. One of the most common complaints is that the slides and drawers are too weak to hold valuables. Another common issue is that these RVs tend to leak, causing rust on the body panels. Many reviews also talk about the sink and shower leaking.
Coachmen do have some good model, but it will take some research to find which ones are worth investing in. Another factor the quality of this brand depends on is where you purchase it, as quality appears to be heavily connected to the dealer.
Did you know:
Coachmen is a subsidiary brand of Forest River and has been making RVs since 1964.
Despite their pedigree, here is a breakdown of the most common issues with Coachmen and why we have them listed as a brand to avoid:
- Poor plumbing connections
- Leaks inside walls and under sinks
- Shelving inside cabinets warp and bend
- Leaks around the roof edges
- Ceiling panels sag
- Lack of follow up service.
Gulfstream is a reliable and fuel-efficient motor, it handles well and is generally a well-performing RV. So, you’re probably wondering why this brand has made the list. It’s because Gulfstream RVs have huge rust and leak issues.
This brand suffers from major leak issues, which can cause rusting both inside and out. The reliability and stability of the vehicle will be affected by the non-stop leaks. Because of these issues, Gulfstream RVs are difficult to resell. Alongside the terrible customer service, there have been frequent complaints of the following.
- Locks on doors and hatches not staying secure
- Basement door doesn’t hold shut
- Thermostat fails to read correctly
- Poor air circulation causing condensation
- Issues with rust
Fleetwood is a name synonymous with luxury. With over 60 years in the business, their older models are still well respected, but sadly their newer RVs don’t meet the expected standard. Their coach brand is especially known for having tons of issues.
Modern Fleetwood RVs are prone to breaking down. Frequent complaints include water leaks on the roof and kitchen sink, causing rust on the chassis. There are also issues with the ergonomics and general layout. The most common issue is the location of the thermostat, which is mounted six feet high on the open stairwell.
Why are we telling you to avoid a brand that is thought of being so prestigious?
- Bad customer support
- Windshield pops out
- Slide out problem
- Poor after sale services
- Battery and charging problems
- The seat covers deteriorate quickly
- Water damage
- Brand won’t honor the warranty
Jayco has a smaller range of products compared to other brands which cater to lots of different needs. The RV brand has gathered a reputation for being unreliable and hard to maintain. Although beautiful, they are not as functional as they are visually appealing.
Common issues include badly installed appliances, frequent leaks, subpar plumbing and missing fixtures. This can become costly in terms of maintenance, with many believing the manufacturer has cut corners when it comes to production.
Jayco was founded in 1968, but despite their experience here are the issues frequently complained about:
- Over priced
- Hard to maintain
- Several missing fixtures
- Toilet seat badly installed
- Oven hood breaking
Winnebago is one of the most prestigious RV brands around the world. However, recent models of their RVs are reportedly low quality with shoddy craftmanship. With the demand high for their RVs, it appears their sacrificed quality for quantity. On top of poor products, many customers complain that the brand has commonly failed to honor its warranty.
Many buyers have complained about the low quality of construction both internally and externally, which means the whole rig will quickly degrade and depreciate. Electrical failures appear to be the biggest issues, although the interior finishes are often cheap and the appliances poorly installed. Common issues include bent panels and damaged walls, which are costly to maintain and repair.
Unfortunately, Winnebago’s good name isn’t upheld when you look at these drawbacks:
- Inner walls being bent
- Expensive to repair the poor construction
- Electrical faults
Forest River is known for acquiring small but respected RV brands, including the aforementioned Coachmen. Owners of their RVs have complained that their recent models are not up to the standard of earlier models, or the standard expected from a brand that started in 1996.
The major problems with recent Forest River models center on water leakages and sinking floors. On top of that, the customer service team is reportedly unresponsive and hard to get hold of. While Forest River have less issues than other brands, their products are certainly dipping in quality.
Here are just some of the reasons there is a general consensus that the quality of this brand’s RV is going downhill in both quality and customer service:
- Poor trim work
- Cabinet doors shimmying loose
- Swelling particleboard on countertops in humidity
- Cheap exterior caulking
- Poor workmanship and trims causing leaks
- Rotting wood, rusting metal and mould.
Coleman specialized in offering travel trailers and pop-up campers, all at an affordable price. They are generally aimed at campers on a budget or first timers looking to try out the RV lifestyle. Many customers have complained that the construction is poor, even taking into account the low price tag.
Reviews claim that the interior and furniture is very low quality, barely lasting for a year. Made using cheap and flimsy materials, the parts and appliances fail frequently. Shower reportedly spew water randomly, bunk windows and doors blow out, the air conditioner and heating malfunction and the side trim breaks easily.
Did you know:
On a positive note, Coleman RVs come with an industry-leading three-year warranty.
Coleman is the most respected names behind camping gear, so why should you avoid their RVs?
- Rushed designs
- Uncomfortable layouts
- Flimsy finishes
- Constant need to reattached finishes
- Toilet valve won’t completely shut
- Low quality showerhead
- Faulty refrigerator
- Wiring shakes loose
- Exterior decals quickly crack.
Despite being a luxury manufacturer, Holiday Rambler’s RVs are known for being crafted using subpar workmanship. Many reviews talk about seat belt issues and faulty brake pedal assemblies. Not only is the workmanship poor, but it has affected the safety of the RV.
Perhaps the fact this brand has been brought out many times may be the reason the quality has dipped so much recently. For the heft price tag, you wouldn’t expect issues like broken windscreen wipers or glazing that crack easily.
Here’s a complaint of the subpar workmanship you can expect from Holiday Rambler:
- Bad connection in the 12-volt system
- Windscreen wipers falling off
- Low quality glazing
- Seat belts breaking quickly
RV Brands We Recommend
Not all RVs are brand, even the worst brands have good models. To understand which brands are the best, we recommend reading reviews and going to see the product yourself. Here are 5 RV brands we think are worth investing your money into:
Hymer is one of the best RV brands on there, offering a variety of classes and sizes. They are built with Mercedes or Fiat chassis, making them incredibly reliable vase-vehicles. Alongside panel van conversions, they also make premium B-Class motorhomes that can sleep five people.
Newmar deliver luxury units with every RV they offer. Their designs have been praised for being well thought out with every single detail considered to deliver the best. Their Class A motorhomes have especially been praised for having tasteful décor, heated seats and floors, stainless steel appliances and luxurious details. Their rigs even include a bedroom fireplace and an enormous fridge.
Tiffin is a small family-run business, who value every customer. This brand offers luxury at a competitive price. Add-on features available include collision avoidance, in-dash navigation, a two-door fridge, fireplace, and mattress upgrades.
Dutchmen produce a wide variety of RVs, including travel trailers and fifth-wheel campers. Their travel trailers are known for having extensive storage safe and focuses on customer comfort. Their entire range has a reputation for being crafted using high strength aluminium.
Pleasure-Way build custom Class B motorhome using Chevrolet, Mercedes and Ford chassis’. They are known for delivering a high standard of quality control, with every RV being crafted to a high standard. The inside is hand fitted with everything from running boards to wall partitions custom fit to each RV.
What types of RV are there?
There are different classes of RV, all of which come with their own pros and cons. Here are the most common types of RV available on the market:
- Class A RV. This is the biggest motorhome available to buy on the market. Most Class-A RVs are powered by diesel engines, which can be expensive to run. These expensive RVs are usually custom made.
- Class B RV. This RV is known better as a camper van. It’s small and easy to maneuver, build on a standard full-sized van. They can also be outfitted with a raised roof.
- Class C RV. The Class C RV has a sleeping compartment over the driver’s cab. Class C RVs are bigger than Class B RVs yet are more affordable to buy. They are also easier to drive and are generally low maintenance.
- Fifth Wheel RV. They are like a Class C but don’t have an engine. This style of RV is practical but needs to be towed by a separate SUV or pickup track.
- Travel Trailer RV. Smaller than a Fifth Wheel RV, a Travel Trailer is designed to be pulled on a hitch. This is a great choice of you are looking for a compact and relatively lightweight RV.
Did you know:
The worst mistake you can make is buying an RV, especially a travel trailer, is choosing a model incompatible with your vehicle. Always check before purchase.
Should I buy a new or used RV?
Some people on a budget may consider a used RV, there are pros and cons around that. There are so pros and cons to both options.
With a new RV, you get a brand new purchase with all the features and customization options you could want. You can choose the room layout and colors, especially if you are willing to pay for a custom upgrade. You shouldn’t have to worry about any wear, tear, or existing damage. You also get the full manufacturer warranty. Obviously, the main downside is the price and the fact insurance premiums will be higher.
A concern buyers have when investing in an RV is that you don’t exactly know how it has been since production. They may also come with hidden maintenance issues, which makes the purchase more expensive than it seems. It may be hard to find the right replacement components, depending on the age of the RV. On a positive note, you could find an RV that you’ve always wanted yet isn’t in production.