Is build quality always a factor of price?

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RV&HD

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I think my title captures the essence of my question.

I like buying quality, and I like things that hold their value. I am most specially asking this question as it relates to a Class C
 

Oldgator73

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We generally purchase vehicles without very many bells and whistles because it is our opinion that the more stuff you get the better chance that something will go wrong. So our purchases may be built as well as others but cost less because it’s not fully loaded.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Pretty much so. The RV industry is extremely price-competitive, so where the features & amenities are equivalent, any price advantage has to be gained by cutting corners. And it's rather easy to do that "under the covers", by using less-than-best assembly techniques and low-grade materials for upholstery, cabinetry & furnishings. The good news is that in a Class C, the chassis is fairly easy to compare and typically near-identical. A Ford E450 van cutaway chassis is pretty much the same regardless of the RV assembled on it. The bad news is that there isn't a lot of choice if you want a high-quality class C, since the market is almost totally focused on affordable models. Customers willing to pay more near-always opt for a class A instead. Yes, you can get a 28-31 ft class A, so it's not just a size thing.

The best class C's are the super-C models (almost all diesels on a medium truck chassis). The chassis puts them into a higher price tier to begin with, so investing in more assembly time and better materials has less overall effect on the final price, and the buyers are typically ok with that sort of cost.

Some things to look for in a quality "C" (or any other RV type):
  • Cabinets are solid wood or veneered MDF (not paper faux-finish on particle board)
  • Quality flooring (hard to identify by eye, though)
  • Wiring is bundled, neatly tied down, well-protected where it passes through walls, and labeled with circuit name or number
  • Plumbing is neatly arranged and has shut-off valves and maintenance access points for things like shower valves
  • Roof membrane is at least TPO and preferably fiberglass
  • Quality faucets, sinks, shower valves & a molded shower stall with a good door.
  • Well-designed storage and lots of it
  • The better models usually include leveling jacks (a substantial addition to the sticker price).
  • "Fit & finish" is good everywhere. Sloppy workmanship is a sure sign of hurried construction and low quality standards.
The Lazy Daze brand is one that focuses on quality and long term reliability rather than flashiness. They tend to look old-fashioned, though. Dynamax is another high-end, better built machine and they have several classC models, both gas & diesel.
 
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RV&HD

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I could rattle of cars in order of quality pretty easy, and it is often not in the same order as cost, like for like. For example (obviously some might argue, but this is my opinion)

#1 Quality - Toyota (including Lexus)
#2 Honda (maybe tied for first, and including Acura)
#3 Mercedes
#4 Porsche
#5 BMW
#6 Subaru
#7 Cadillac
#8 Audi
#9 Ford
#10 Chevrolet
 

ziplock

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I could rattle of cars in order of quality pretty easy, and it is often not in the same order as cost, like for like. For example (obviously some might argue, but this is my opinion)
Sounds like you already know what you want and are just posing questions to what? Agree?
 

ziplock

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Can someone offer the top 10 Class C by order of build and material quality?


I could pull opinions up all day long. I want one that I pull off the lot and never have to take back because something is wrong.
 

RV&HD

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Sounds like you already know what you want and are just posing questions to what? Agree?
Like I said, I have been back and forth on the type of RV. Right now I am leaning more heavily toward Class C. That said, if something jumps out at me, being important to me, I might go back to a drop in.

I never really considered Class A or B. The only pull behinds I considered were Oliver, Big Foot or Escape. Those are too heavy for my 4Runner and if I am using my Duramax, I'd go to a drop in.
 

RV&HD

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I could pull opinions up all day long. I want one that I pull off the lot and never have to take back because something is wrong.
Using that article (I am always skeptical of published stuff - they get paid off)

#1 Coachmen
#2 Tiffin
#3 Thor
#4 Jayco
#5 Dynamax

I am surprised Winnebago or Entegra and a few others are not there. I will say I have excluded the Diesels as that expense does not seem to be warranted, again just my opinion.

Do you agree with the top five as listed from that link you provided?
 

Isaac-1

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I absolutely disagree with that list, 100% marketing BS, though out of those some are better than others.

Really there is no list like there are with cars, there are 2-3 upper end brands currently being built, 2-3 mid levels and then a lot of junk

Consider a small class A, they are built on much heavier chassis (16,000 - 20,000 GVWR vs 12,500 - 14,500 GVWR on sub 30 ft models) , tend to have more storage space, but most importantly due to being built on a heavier chassis, they can have more solidly built houses as weigh savings is not as much of a concern.
 

RV&HD

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I absolutely disagree with that list, 100% marketing BS, though out of those some are better than others.

Really there is no list like there are with cars, there are 2-3 upper end brands currently being built, 2-3 mid levels and then a lot of junk
Can you list the 2-3 upper end brands currently being built, 2-3 mid levels
 

Isaac-1

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ziplock

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Isaac-1

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Keep in mind there are a number of other brands that are no longer with us that may have been building good class C's up until a few years ago, for example the Triplee Regency line out of Canada that was discontinued 7 or 8 years ago. Also condition matters more than initial build quality on any used RV. It does not matter how well it was built if the roof it rotted out.
 

UTTransplant

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I could pull opinions up all day long. I want one that I pull off the lot and never have to take back because something is wrong.
That just isn’t going to happen. Even if the build is perfect coming off the line, it won’t be perfect after driving down pot holed highways for 10,000 miles. All RVs are built on low-volume production lines, meaning less than 100-200 of a model a day. Many are just 2-3 of a specific model a day. That means traditional high volume manufacturing processes that root out inconsistencies just can’t be applied. Now the basic chassis underneath may be a high volume one, but not the total RV.
 

Larry N.

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Well stated, Pam. And while there are high end coaches (and trailers), they are costly too, and may have almost as many problems as the lower-mid range units, though they probably contain better-grade materials.

Forget your car lists or car comparisons -- it's like comparing apples and lettuce.
 

Isaac-1

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I agree, too low of volume of production, too many slapped together items on even the more well built coaches, not to mention design mistakes, etc. Take my own coach as an example, even though I bought it when it was 14 years old, there are several things I have found over the years that fell into the category of build / production mistakes, or egineering mistakes on the part of the RV manufacturer, even though my coach was a high end small class A, which they stopped making due to pricing themselves out of the market. When my coach was built it's MSRP was 119,000, at about the same time a similar length entry level Fleetwood Flair built on the same chassis had an MSRP of around $60,000, the difference is full body paint vs vinyl graphics, real hardwood cabinet work held together with screws vs particle board held together with staples, Aluminum roof vs EPDM rubber roof, Aluminum side walls vs FIberglass, Solid surface counters vs laminate, ...

Yet even with these better materials and somewhat better build quality, Here are a few of the factory mistakes I have found:

Alternator sense lead connected to the wrong side of the diode type battery isolator causing chronic battery charging problems

A jumper wire under the dash connected that should have been disconnected in this application which caused the rear yellow turn signal lights to light up with the rear brake lights (I spent a couple of years off and on tracing that one down).

My coach included a CB radio from the factory, the problem is they wired it to a standard ground plane style antenna on the fiberglass front cap, which only works right if mounted to a metal roof (depends on the radio waves reflecting off the roof to work).

The reversible Fantastic fan in the kitchen is wired backwards so that the air blows out with the switch is in the In position and vice versa. (this may not be a factory mistake)

Who knows what else previous owners may have caught and repaired.

This does not include where they cheapped out in places like using common crimp on wire splices to run power to the side marker lights, instead of using the weatherproof wire connector supplied by the chassis manufacturer even though it was right there, likely to save the price of the mating weatherproof plug.
 

ziplock

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How can the responsible buyer ever actually get a unit that you don't have to go through hoops and trust that you received a trustworthy deal?

cheaped out? that is what I mean.........
 
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