MH makes/models to avoid

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Jul 1, 2006
Land of Lincoln
I've seen many threads about MH makes/models that are recommended, but how about specific ones to avoid?  In a few different threads, these have popped up as "red flag" makes/models:

Fleetwood Discovery (repeated equipment failures, poor customer service)
Safari/SMC (quality control non-existence for 90's models)

Are these isolated incidents, or can others here agree on avoiding these makes/models?  Any others that generally have a poor track record?
Fleetwood Pace Arrow owner here with little or no problems with it.  When in operation, I don't only use it in some cases might even be abused with what I carry and tote. 
Does everything I've asked it to do and more. Well with perhaps not being a 45fter and isn't the 600hp deisel I need.  So how can I say it's bad.  Winegard dish problem but thats not Pace Arrow or Fleetwoods problem.  Water line problem and that was my own stupidity at the Q.  Battery problems nothing wrong with that, it's  normal maintenence. Same with Brakes.
However I have beefed up the unit to do what I want it to do.  Overweight and overloaded? Perhaps but it hasn't failed me yet and even tho I push it, I'm also careful and watch what is going on around me and for the other guy.  Happy with the Pace Arrow Fleetwood Banks Power PAK
I'm not aware that Fleetwood Discoverys have an unusually bad record.  Actually, I rarely hear of a "bad" Discovery here or on another site where I hang regularly.  There is a Discovery Owners group on Yahoo Groups - you might want to ask there about frequency of problems.

The difficulty for shoppers is that ALL the manufacturers have altogether too many "lemons" and you will hear of dreadful examples from all of them. And at least a few of those will have what appears to be valid complaints about poor customer service in dealing with the problems. Remember, though, that you are hearing only the complaint side of the story.

RV Roamer said:
The difficulty for shoppers is that ALL the manufacturers have altogether too many "lemons" and you will hear of dreadful examples from all of them.

Exactly, that's why I was curious to know if there really are/were lemon makes out there... or just isolated bad experiences that make an entire brand look worse than it really is.
I would suggest that you read carefully ANY complaints regarding a brand and particularly the service history. If you are going to spend a small fortune on anything, do it with a lot of thoughtfull care and planning. Regretably, I didn't do that and I'm stuck with a coach that has never been close to satisfactory. I would especially read with some skepticisism the bubbly positive posts from some as I have heard that the manufacturers and dealers sometimes resort to having employees post responses to negative complaints with their phony tales of happiness. My '02 Discovery has had very little use and continues to be a challenge to keep operating. It's not much fun to go on the raod and have to hold your breath in fear of the next major equipment failure.  Fleetwood products look very nice on the surface but upon a closer inspection you will find very poor workmanship and and one gets the feeling that they are more concerned with the mass production and sales than building a reliable product that will last a few years. I would never buy another Fleetwood anything. Good luck to you and be carefull...
Richard Cron
[email protected]
I'm not an employee and very satisfied with Fleetwood.  RV's are like any vehicle, they have a personality of their own.  Many times people buy cars and have all kinds of troubles and swear they will never buy another of that make but yet sell that vehicle too another individual and everything is great.  I've sen it happen time and time again;  Also some people don't know how to use a unit and have trouble, others just neglect the maintenance and expect every thing perfect. 
That just don't happen, they are mechanical and anything can happen and usually does.  Once you purchase an RV  bugs of all sorts are going to occur.  For crying out loud, you have a house traveling down the highway.  Things happen and even more so than a stick house.  If you expect the perfect unit  STAY AWAY FROM RVs  cause you sure aren't going to find it.  If you bought it new, yes take it to the service center or the plant at point of manufacturer.  If you bought it used, best thing to do it shut up and suffer the consequences.  You bought a used unit that someone got rid of for some reason.  You bought no one forced you to buy it.  Yes I've had to do work on mine and sometimes I didn't enjoy what I was doing and thought that someone at the factory possibly goofed.  But that's life, and I'm sure that if you looked back on you life and reviewed the work you did on the job, you'll find you weren't so danged perfect either.  All in all been there done that in RVing since the 60's and I'm finding more and more too darn many pamper people wanting everything for nothing and no knowledge of what to do with it after the got it.;  IMHO
Well thanks for being honest... I am not looking for something from nothing, I just don't want to buy a product without doing research on it first.? Believe me, I realize the potential for a used MH I buy to have problems especially since I'm looking at 17-20 year old units.? I also own a classic car and can kinda sorta do minor repairs myself, with the proper guidance.? This is where the internet forums like this one become priceless.? The ability to so easily share experiences and ideas have opened up a whole new world of knowledge sharing.? I'm an Admin at the Aurora Club of North America, a forum for owners/appreciators of the Oldsmobile Aurora (I have a '99)... so I also have seen people that have all sorts of problems with their Auroras for no apparent reason, and therefore swear off Oldsmobiles for life (not hard since you can't buy new ones anymore).? I don't necessarily intend to base my buying decision solely on the recommendation(s) of this thread or forum, but it will certainly be a contributing factor since nearly everyone here has MH experiences that I do not.? ?:)
For the last three years I have owned a 93 Fleetwood Pace Arrow and have been very satisfied with it. It had 51,000 when I bought it and now has 79,000 so you can see I have driven it quite a bit.
I had a furnace problem that was caused by a wasp or mouse clogging up the heat exchanger but that was not Fleetwoods fault. I have had problems with their door latches which has been changed to another style.
Other than those two problems I have had nothing go wrong with my coach except for normal wear and tear issues.
I would point out that almost any motorhome with a long overhang behind the rear wheels will have some wandering problems, kinda like the hind end of the dog shaking it. I solved part of that with new bell cranks and a front end stabilizer.

We had a used 1996 Fleetwood Southwind for two years and got excellent service from it - did hardly anything except change the oil regularly and put fuel in it.  Traded it for a new National RV Dolphon LX, a company & product with an excellent quality reputation.  Had nothing but problems for nearly two years before we got it whipped into shape  and the last two years have  been trouble free.  Most National product owners are very happy with their rigs, but I have to admit I find it hard to recommend a National product anymore. One bad exqample can leave a really sour taste in your mouth.  :p

I do know we have several Fleetwood owners and ex-owners here and just about all of them speak favorably. But as you can see, not all of them.

If I were buying a used RV I would put aside 15-20% of the purchase price for repairs.? I would immediately change all the batteries & tires, & do a complete oil & fluid change...unless the seller had records that this had been recently done. If the unit is over 5 years I would change the house water pump, I would throw away all included sewer/water hoses & buy new. Make sure the refrigerator works on both gas & elec. as this is the most expensive part to fix/replace except for the engine. My double door Dometic costs $3700 MSRP.

It REALLY helps if you are mechanically & electrically handy....or have a FAT wallet.<G>

Also some people don't know how to use a unit and have trouble, others just neglect the maintenance and expect every thing perfect.
I've run accross people who complain about their problems with their RV.  In one case, a person was cursing loudly to his wife about the she must have done something to the batteries.  I asked if I could help and take a look.  The posts on one of the batteries was so badly corroded that the current couldn't pass thru.  I pull the cables, cleaned the posts and area, put it all back together.  Also, the batteries were of different makes and years (both 6v).  Once I was done, it worked fine.  A little knowledge goes a long way. 
When buying an older unit, is no different than buying an antique car of which I have purchased many and repaired sold and purchased more.  When Buying old units  it's a pig in a poke.  Sometimes you win  sometimes you lose.  Just ho[pe you don't lose too many.  If  I were buying something that old and planned on using it.  Ist I'd find out everything about that given unit and then find a bunch of RV  Salvage dealers and get a list of everything they have for it and go from there.  You are not going to get a good buy on an old unit unless you don't value your time and efforton repairs.  1st off any RV is a losing situation.  Seldom ever does anyone other than the manufacturer and dealer make money on an RV.  So l figure when you buy old, plan on spending boocools of moola on it.  They are just like us  the older we get the more costly it is ton keep us going.  By the way I'm originally from Collinsville and later from Highland and had many antique vehicles.  Cars Truck and Motorcyles.
I was a novice when I bought my new Discovery. I had looked at several makes, drooling all over them but not feeling that I could afford the one I wanted. Then I had a friend tell me about Earnhardt RV in Mesa, AZ. I checked them out on line and requested a quote. I immediately received a response from a salesman with an offer that was about 35K less that the local dealer was offering. So although I believe in buying local, I could only swing the deal at the "close-out" price that Earnhardt was offering. So I took off a couple days from work and drove the 640 miles to take delivery as they had said it was ready but when I arrived and asked to see the unit, they told me that they had found that the generator (7.5 kw Quietdiesel) wasn't working but they had taken the coach to Glendale to the Cummins/Onan shop for repair. But not to worry, it would be back the next morning. So my wife and I checked into our motel room and had a nice dinner and dreamed of our new motorhome. The next morning (Friday) we arrived back the dealer but were informed that it wasn't back yet and it would be sometime that afternoon. So we went over to the recommended shop to have a tow bar installed on our car. Well, we were finally told that the parts for the generator weren't in stock and it would be Monday before they could get it finished but that they could reinstall it as-is and we could take it to our local Cummins shop for repairs at no cost to me. So on Saturday afternoon we were very hurriedly run through the pre-delivery inspection and ushered on our way. We spent our first night at an RV park in Silverton, CO and life was good. The next morning, we made coffee and and when my wife tried to use her hair dryer, the power went out. So with neighbors watching, she stood out at the electrical power pedestal with her hair dryer and a mirror drying her hair. She wasn't amused. I really didn't understand for sure just how the shore power and the inverter/charger were supposed to work together but I quickly learned more about it than I had imagined I would need to know. I contacted the local dealer in Grand Junction about warranty repairs and was informed that since I didn't purchase from them that their policy was to not honor the warranty. I talked to the Earnhardt RV service dept and was told that the problem was that I had left the inverter on and ran the house batteries down. I pondered that a bit but asked why the shore power didn't feed through to the outlets and he told me that I just didn't understand how to operate the coach. He told me I should come back and bring a video camera so I could record their instructions...
As far as the generator is concerned, Cummins said they couldn't get to it for a month so I made an appointment. I did some troubleshooting on my own (I've been an electronics technician for 35 years and have experience with electrical wiring, etc). I figured out that the inverter should "see" 120 VAC when on shore power and "transfer" from inverter (if "on") and pass through the power to designated outlets in the coach. Also, it begins to charge the house batteries. This function wasn't happening, so I looked "under the cover" and found a blown fuse inside the inverter which when replaced, restored it to what seemed to be normal operation - shore power inside and batteries charging. I was pleased with the results and decided to investigate the generator problem myself. I found the gen transfer relay under the bed and started tracing out the wires in an effort to understand how it worked. I quickly saw that the shore cable and the breaker panel connections were reversed (didn't match the labels on the relay circuit board). Also the fact that the wires were very sloppily connected made me suspicious to begin with. But I could hardly believe what I was seeing so I double and triple checked the wiring and concluded that someone made a serious mistake. I have wondered since if that was what blew the generator - if the shore cord had been plugged in when they tested the generator - BANG!, to say the least. When I asked Earnhardt service about it, the service manager informed me that he had rewired it and it was properly connected and I didn't know what I was talking about. So, I took pictures of it and documented what I found and of course Fleetwood doubted me as well, even though I sent them the pictures. I thought that since I no longer trusted the dealer and I had found a significant mis-wire problem, I decided to change it myself, which I further documented. It didn't fix the generator, but when I did get it in to Cummins, they confirmed that my rewire was correct. Only problem was that they disputed my claim for warranty repair and I had to get Fleetwood to convince them to make the repairs at no cost to me. Unfortunately, the generator failed again the very next year and again the next year... always something different but still with low usage and always maintained. Too bad that we're afraid to use it for fear of a huge repair bill.
The first time we used the furnaces I discovered that although they would both come on, the back zone would not shut off while the front zone would shut off and stay off. I used my wife's hair dryer to prove that the thermostats were reversed. I called the dealer thinking that we would get a good laugh about a simple manufacturing mistake, instead I was berated by him. "it was designed that way, you just don't understand..." I was floored, speechless. He further told me that I needed to return to the dealer for remedial operator training. It's real discouraging when you feel that you know more about the product than the service folks. And that they're knot-heads to boot. I think that it was about then when I realized that my purchase was a big mistake. I called Fleetwood and they would not admit to the thermostat reversal either although when I called K&C RV in Longmont, CO, they told me that "Yes, we've fixed several of those, it's a known problem". By that time, my front TV had also smoked and Fleetwood said I could take the coach to K&C for repairs, which I did. They seemed to get things fixed and it was about a year later that the Coleman HVAC control failed and I found that the K&C thermostat fix was a jury-rig that had to be redone before I could replace the control. Wires had been cut off at the pig tail connector and butt spliced around it so that it could not be simply unplugged and replaced. I bought a pin removal tool and some crimp pins to fit the Molex 9 pin connector and set about diagramming the heat/cool functions. So far, so good, after $230.00 for the control, again, no help from Fleetwood.
The roof has leaked around the A/C mounts and as in a previous post, I recently had a serious water leak due to a carpet staple shot through the floor into the hot water supply line. Anyone should agree that it was a hidden defect that was present from day one. It took four years to corrode enough to leak but again, no help from Fleetwood.
Other than a leaky wheel seal and a loss of prime on the fuel system, the Freightliner chassis has been great (although the tow light wiring has never been right, I wish I has a wiring detail for that).
For the folks that are happy with your rigs, good for you but please don't think that my complaints are petty and the coach HAS received all regular maintenance. I realize that RV's are prone to problems but that is exactly why good service after the sale is so very important. And I have not been hard to get along with, just upset after being treated in such a shoddy manner. Wouldn't it be much cheaper for Fleetwood to help a customer than to have him "air out" all this dirty laundry? If it causes just one person to purchase another brand, they would have been money ahead and they would have another happy customer.
If Boeing built airplanes like Fleetwood builds motorhomes...Yikes!!!
Thanks for reading this post.
Richard Cron
[email protected] ???
'02 Fleetwood Discovery 37U
Winnebago seems to be one of the brands that has stayed consistent throughout the years, at least from what I've seen thus far in my newbie wanderings.  Someone with more experience may be able to offer other insight.  However, I know that I don't see many used Winnies for sale out there... which tells me that RVers either buy them and keep them, or they've all been junked early.  I doubt it's the latter.  ;)
Richardcron, thats one helluva post.
Poor customer service creates bad business relationships.
I hope someone from Fleetwood reads your post.
Don't feel bad about posting the truth.
The communication of the internet forces businesses of all types to create a better product.
I just think the RV industry may be a bit slower than others.
I would say that any automotive company (Which includes RV manafacturers) no matter how good, occasionally comes out with a lemon

And I'd say that any company, no matter how bad, sometimes produces a hunk of gold.

Of course that's a bit like Sparky Anderson who said something like:Any ball club no matter how bad can be expected to win 1/3 of it's games, and no matter how good loose 1/3, the difference between Champions and last place is the remaining 1/3

I've read a lot of complaints against Damon for example, yet I'm quite satisfied with my Intruder.. Oh don't get me wrong there have been problems, I mean the changeover switch (Generator/Shore power) failed, The awning controller is bad (Still) The dash had a problem (had) there was an AC problem (Was) and there still is with the house ac (What can I say, Carrier V) however NOT ONE OF THESE SYSTEMS belonged to Damon, not one, The switch is an Intell-switch (among the best in the business) Carrier is an excelent company, this is their worst model though (I do blame Damon for that choice) The dash AC was Workhorse, as was the dashboard, The only problem that is truly Damons are: 1: Fresh water tank does not drain completly (Fixed with current models) and the opening for the windshield was improperly cut (Fixed by Damon plant 12)

I will say I had excelent warranty service from General RV (Where I bought it) in Wixom Mich (As well as other stores) and from Wheelers' RV in metro Las Vegas (Where I had a wireing problem fixed and the AC mis-diagnosed) 

The big difference to me is not so much in the makes and models, (Though there is some difference in makes) it is the dealers

I feel I've had good after-sales service, and that is the big thing, Customer service, and that would apply to ANY motorhome sold by the dealer.

In my case I also feel I had partially good service from Damon (The warranty repair plant (#12) is great) however I'm not entirely satisified with some surrounding lissues, like the 600+ I had to spend on a hotel while Wheelers' worked on the windshield problem (By the way Dave Simpson Glass in Las Vegas,,, He did a great job, and what's more he had Wheelers explain exactly what the problem was and what needed to be done back at the factory.  If not for Mr. Simpson I'd still have ongoing problems with the self removing windshield, Even if he did actually get the problem wrong,  But he was very close (about 12 inches off) and his explanation got me to Plant 12 where the technician there knew exactly what to do)
This thread has been an education!  Electricial problems on motorcycles can be a headache but on a motorhome wow!  We are selling our 5r and are leaning towards the MH.  We will still do this but I sure will be very careful spending my small fortune after reading this.  Richardcron's post sure puts a perspective on needing a good Dealer!
From what I've heard the top of the heap (for class A, that is), goes something like this:
Winnebago/ Itasca, Fleetwood (esp. the Bounder line)

The Bottom:
Damon, Sunrise, Gulfstream

Additions?  Corrections?  Especially about Georgetown and Georgie Boy.
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