You invest in an RV to see the open road, enjoy travel from another angle, and build lasting memories with your loved ones, but to keep the experience fun, you should avoid a couple of RV brands that earned a bad reputation. Since an RV can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000, you want to buy one that will perform well and last you many years of road adventures and memorable camping trips. But unfortunately, some RV brands fail their customers, and you need to know about it.
Users' most common complaints include tire issues, design problems, battery problems, poor craftsmanship, and unhelpful customer service. So, before you buy an RV, always check that your vehicle is compatible with your needs, wishes, and budget. And, just as you'd do with a new car to buy, read the reviews, check out the pros and cons, and talk to other users. Let's see today some RV brands to avoid.
How the Worst RV Brands Raise Red Flags (You Shouldn't Ignore)
Some of the most common red flags to be aware of when you start shopping around for an RV buy include the following:
- Flimsy finishes;
- Poor frame;
- Broken appliances;
- Serious vehicle safety problems;
- Rushed design;
- Rotting wood;
- Rusting metal;
- Mold, etc.
This list shows you the most common problems with RVs, but what separates the best RV brands from the RV brands to avoid comes down to a few aspects:
- The trustworthiness of the RV manufacturer;
- How the brand cares for your safety;
- The RV's build and reliability;
- Customer support;
- How the manufacturer helps you with a warranty, aftermarket parts, or just answering the phone when you report a problem, etc.
Let's take a look at some of the worst RV brands in 2022 that you may want to avoid.
1. Thor Hurricane
You can judge the actual value of an RV brand based on how well it retains its resale value. Check the NADA guide for more information. Before you buy a Thor Hurricane, test drive it to see if you can handle a rough ride. You have your first red flag if the dealership won't let you test drive it.
What are the Most Common Thor Hurricane Problems?
Thor Hurricane earned a reputation for recall on parts and selling new RVs with poor-quality parts. They have made over fifty recalls over the years for fire risks and other technical issues that might put drivers' lives in danger.
This brand salvages and reconditions parts to put them into new models, which leads to faster breakdowns. Can you imagine the hydraulic jack system failing, or how about the parking brakes? Neither of those situations will put you in a safe environment.
Along with the unsafe scenarios and the brand's salvaging and reconditioning parts problems, many people report charging issues with the house batteries. Replacing four to eight batteries can cost $200 to $500, and eight batteries can cost you thousands of dollars.
2. Gulf Stream
Once lauded as one of the better RV brands, Gulf Stream has unfortunately fallen in quality. The brand produces fifth wheels, travel trailers, toy haulers, and Class C motorhomes. Unfortunately, while the biggest attraction comes from the affordable prices, quality control makes it one of the awful brands worthy of this list. Often, the lower price "discount sale" serves as merely a siren to draw the unsuspecting, bright-eyed RVers onto the rocks.
What are the Most Common Gulf Stream Problems?
Squeaks, leaks, and battery failure rank right up there regarding issues with the Gulf Stream RVs. For example, the Gulf Stream BT Cruiser commonly suffers from those three issues.
The locks on the doors have become another serious issue with this RV brand. Did you stop somewhere to rest? Sleep with one eye open, as you might wake up with your basement door open and all your stuff falling out.
Until 2001, Keystone made awesome RVs, but its quality began to fail when Thor acquired the brand. The trailers and fifth-wheel RVs, especially, had rapidly gained a reputation for poor quality.
What are the Most Common Keystone Problems?
Some customers complained about buggy electronics and the control panel configuration messing up enough to where you can't trust the propane or gray water tank readings. In addition, while the cabinetry inside the RV draws you in, it falls apart quickly from the vibrations on the road.
Fleetwood Storm gained popularity because of its low prices, but it has a few problems that make it a less desirable RV brand. Once a reliable RV manufacturer, today, Fleetwood has a reputation for cheap interiors and poor craftsmanship in general.
What Are Fleetwood's Main Issues that Users Complain About?
The biggest problems common to a Fleetwood RV include absorption fridge fires, leaking roofs, problems with the chassis brakes, and lifted flooring. Beware of their Dometic refrigerators because of their proneness to fires. The fires arise from malfunctions inside the fridge, making it a dangerous item for the vehicle and people's lives.
Coleman has a reputation as being a great RV brand — up until you go to use it. After all, if you can't drive your RV from point A to point B without it coming apart, it ruins the whole purpose of getting one in the first place. Unfortunately, many who used Coleman RVs said that they only used it three to five times before it started to degrade in quality. All seasoned RVers understand vehicle depreciation, but not that dramatically fast.
What Are Its Major Issues People Complain About?
Vehicle handling and electrical problems highlight some of the people's most common complaints regarding many Coleman RV models. Many users say that their outlets don't work properly. And, of course, there is the issue of the vehicle breaking down and becoming junk way ahead of its time.
Since filling junkyards is not an option for people who want some return on their investment, the best idea is to sell their junk RV for cash to someone who will buy them fast and fair and top the offer with free removal.
Known for their compact size, Chinook RVs suffer some issues worth knowing about. The original Chinook was discontinued in 2006 because of cheaper RVs in the market. One thing you must give credit for is that Chinooks tend to hold value better than other RVs that can sometimes lose up to 30 percent of their value in a few years.
Why Do RV Users Avoid Chinook RVs?
Spark plug blowouts are one of Chinook's most common mechanical issues. Most of the time, it has to do with advanced issues with the engine. The other issue comes from how the generator makes an unpleasant vibrating sound when in use.
7. Skyline RVs
At first glance, Skyline appears to be a reputable and trustworthy company, but this brand belongs on the list of RV brands to avoid for a few good reasons. First, it is not in production anymore, so all you can get now is maybe an old Skyline RV with more problems than the original.
This brand was so bad that it closed production in 2012 and hasn't been in operation since. However, it wasn't always a bad brand, and the company even held a legacy of passing on jobs through the generations. So when this company shut down in 2012, the San Jacinto Valley economy felt it acutely because this company served as the area's biggest employer.
Why Are Junkyards Full of These Low-Quality RVs?
Water damage often occurred in the Skyline because of its faulty plumbing systems that would leak. Many RVers need to refurbish their vehicles because of water damage. Leaking and flooding in an RV can destroy your electric system and threaten the integrity of the entire motorhome. In addition, toxic mold and mildew can damage your health. If you buy a used one, check for discolorations and rotting wood since it can cause expensive structural problems.
You can't necessarily generalize Coachmen as a good or bad RV brand because it has decent and debatable, criticized models. In the past, Coachmen demonstrated a commitment to high quality. Unfortunately, today, their craftsmanship has gone downhill. With all RV brands, you should also beware of who you buy from because some dealerships will do a better job than others.
Why Should You Avoid this RV Brand These Days?
Unfortunately, the biggest issue that Coachmen suffers from is leakage problems, an issue that extends throughout the RV. You will also find problems with the sink, the shower, the ventilation system, and the windows. As we said earlier, water problems can lead to expensive costs for an RV. You can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $2,000 to fix water damage.
In addition, beware of poor installation with Coachmen RVs because the drawers, the appliances, and the slides all have one issue or another, determining some users to consider it one of the most terrible RV brands out there.
Heartland RVs started in 2003, but it became a subsidiary of Thor Industries in 2010. Since Thor ended up on this list, directly and indirectly, three times, it should tell you something. Heartland produces luxury fifth-wheels, toy haulers, and travel trailers. The reviews range from good to terrible. It appears to depend on the dealer that you choose. One person even reported a fire in the RV.
What Are the Most Critical Heartland RV Problems?
The biggest issues that Heartland has had come from structural issues, which can be incredibly serious. In fact, one customer reported their RV collapsed while driving it. In addition, frame damage appears to be a common theme. It could cause cracks in the fiberglass shell. Some even reported how the structural problems left them with a big hole in the wall.
In the company's earlier days, Vanleigh produced a solid fifth wheel. Today, Vanleigh receives less favorable ratings. This is another case of Thor Industries getting their hands on an RV brand (as they bought Vanleigh, too). While nobody can say for certain that the buying was the direct reason for the quality drop, we all see a pattern here. Many of the companies that Thor took over lowered their products' quality. Vanleigh had 40 years of experience before they were bought out.
What Makes RV Enthusiasts Avoid Vanleigh Trailers?
One of the bigger issues with current Vanleigh RVs comes from the fact that you can smell sewage in the washroom. If you want to use the bathroom in comfort during your family road trip or camping vacation, this issue can soon become a nightmare (and a health problem). Vanleigh RVs are also known to have a water leakage issue. This issue may stem from them using low-quality plastic.
Some customers complained about the suspension on their Vanleigh RV breaking down. In particular, if you add too much stuff to your interior, it can damage the suspension. In addition, damaged shock absorbers can cause an accident by making your RV sway. You may see less traction on the road as well. In other words, it is not safe to drive such vehicles, which puts Vanleigh on the list of RV brands to avoid.
11. Shasta RVs
Buying the wrong RV, even when getting a new one, can cost you much more than you bargained for. Shasta has a reputation for not offering an extended warranty on its RVs. They don't stand behind their RVs and don't care much about what happens to their vehicles or people after the sale. This is one of the bigger customer complaints, and it is one to consider. At one point in history, Shasta ranked as the largest RV dealer in the United States, and collectors love the old vintage Shasta RVs. However, modern RVers are afraid of buying Shasta vehicles, which speaks volumes about brands throwing their reputation down the drain because of poor customer service and careless warranties.
Why Should You Put this RV Brand on the "Worst" List?
Shasta ranks as one of the most complained about camper brands, and you will find this RV rife with problems. In terms of issues to pay attention to, we will mention the cheap floors and walls, faulty wiring, which poses a fire hazard for anyone using the RV, and much more.
Another common complaint has been about the low-quality fridge and furnace. This can become a serious problem because it can stop working randomly and ruin your camping trip.
Despite its many problems, this RV remains popular because of its lower price tag. Nevertheless, please pay attention to its specs and features, find a reputable dealership, and fight for your warranty rights. You don't want the RV to break down in the middle of the road after a few months of use and have the manufacturer shrug in indifference.
12. Holiday Rambler
Holiday Rambler has a reputation as a luxury RV brand, but despite its status, you can buy some poor-quality RVs from this brand if you're not careful.
Why Are People Avoiding Holiday Rambler RVs Now?
The biggest issue that came up over and over with this brand stemmed from poor craftsmanship. Many people even complained about faulty brake pedals. Aside from that, the other red flags from this brand stem from how the windshield shades fall during the middle of a drive. Since these vehicles have issues with poor quality craftsmanship impacting your safety, you may want to avoid this RV brand altogether. Never risk lives.
How Do You Know an RV Model is Bad if It Comes from a Reputable Manufacturer?
One of the best ways to know if you bought from a quality RV model is to look at the reviews and speak with people who own it.
Then, take your time on the research end. Buying an RV can easily cost as much as buying a home. For that reason, you should do your homework and note each model's potential downsides.
Also, think about how and for what budget you might remedy them. In some cases, you can fix a commonplace issue with little money, but in other cases, the RV itself poses a danger to your safety.
It would help if you avoided vehicles that risk injuries and failures, rendering your RV undrivable. Even good brands will occasionally make a bad model, so you want a motorhome to last you for years, not one that will turn into junk after a few trips.
Hopefully, this article gave you an idea about some of the RV brands to avoid buying. To be clear, you can get a good model from these manufacturers, but you must first talk to the customers who didn't feel as happy with their purchase. Some of the worst used RV brands will often be the same as the new brands, but you have to be aware of everything that happened to that used RV before you buy it. Who was the customer who had it before you did? How did they use it, and were they abusive to it? Are you buying a used but functional RV, a salvage title, or a vehicle made from junkyard parts? Answering these questions will give you a clearer idea of how to proceed.
RV Brands and Models to Avoid: FAQs
Getting a good RV for your needs is not an easy feat. Let's see some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from RV users like you!
What should I look for when buying a new RV?
Before buying a new RV, check the specs and reviews to ensure you get a good model from a reputable company. Second, know what the model is worth from other sources. Third, check out the dealership and take a low price with a grain of salt. Finally, insist on receiving a test drive, obtain an extended warranty, learn all you need to know about aftermarket parts and after-sale services, and so on.
What should I look for when buying an old/used RV?
When you go to buy a used RV, beware of the structural integrity of the RV. Ask for the title and check for water damage. In addition, look at the reviews of the model and brand to see the common problems flagged out by other users. If you have a mechanic specializing in RVs and motorhomes, take them for a quick but thorough vehicle check-up before closing the deal. It would be best if you also looked at the wiring, mold spots, light fixtures, etc. Finally, take the RV for a test drive with the owner to see how it behaves on the open road.
How do I choose a good RV brand?
To choose a good RV brand, look at the reviews and consider your needs. Think of the most important values that matter the most to you when buying an RV. Not every brand is made for every person, so think of one that suits your style.
How does a "bad brand" RV depreciate compared to a "good brand" RV?
Better quality RVs tend to hold their value better because of higher demand. On the other hand, bad RV brands depreciate faster because they don't sell as quickly, and even the best RV brands lose 20 percent of their value the moment you drive them off the lot. If you want to understand RV depreciation better, read this guide.
What do you do with a junk RV?
To dispose of a junk RV, you typically want to look for a salvage yard to break it down into its components. However, in some cases, it can cost you money, so it may make more sense to sell your junk RV for cash. Call us to learn more details and get an honest estimate for your motorhome. We offer fast cash for junk RVs and can even remove it free from your yard, depending on your state.