Predicted Quality/Reliability of Trailer Brands and "Must Have" Features

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GaryB

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Posts
223
Location
Evansville, IN
Hi All

Now that I've narrowed down my choice to 5er and 3/4 ton truck, or TT and 1/2 ton truck, I'd like to start looking at specific 5ers and TTs in detail.  But I'm baffled by the seemingly large number of brands out there - Jayco (JayFlight, etc.), Keystone (Montana, Laredo, etc.), Forest River (Flagstaff, Cherokee, etc.), Thor (Dutchman, Four Winds, Tundra, etc.), Trail Cruiser, Fleetwood, etc. 

From a quality standpoint, are there any brands or models to avoid (or to target) based on past quality/reliability data?  Are RVs like lawn tractors in that "you get what you pay for".  If so, I'd like to target the $20000-30000 range, including add-ons.  I'm assuming there is no "Consumer Reports" of RVs that gives predicted quality/reliability scores.  I know there are RV buying guides, but most I've looked at in the past don't offer any criticisms - they are more like advertisements with specs.

My second question may be tougher since I'm sure it's based to a large extent on individual preference.  Are there any "must have" features?  For instance, after reading some posts here, I will be sure to get 15000 BTU A/C since smaller ones seem to struggle to keep the trailer cool (maybe 15000 BTU will struggle also, but I guess it's as good as I can get).  I'm the type who doesn't want to fool around spending alot of time hooking up/tearing down, and we like to be comfortable.  So I guess things like electric leveling jacks, stabilizer jacks, awning, etc. are important.  Just trying to figure out which features are most critical in making the RV experience as easy and fun as possible.

Thanks again.  I really enjoy hearing everybody's opinion on this forum.  It's fun to piece together all of the advice to form a big picture view as to what to do and how to do it.
Gary
 

Shayne

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Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Posts
4,324
Gary B Are you sure you want to delve into this with a brand new unit knowing nothing about the RVing field.? ?Think about possibly buying a used rig already truck and 5ver trhat you can test drive and if you like it. buy it? ?
That way should you not be able to cope with the camping and vigors of it, you would be out 20 to 50K Dollars instead of buying a unit and not be able to negociate the units where you would be out 60 to 80K? ?Just a thought.
 

GaryB

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Posts
223
Location
Evansville, IN
Good thought Shayne.  I do plan to rent and test drive to the extent possible before I buy. I'm not sure if it's possible to rent a TT or 5er since I don't even have a truck yet??  Will RV dealers let me test drive TT or 5er using a truck of theirs?  I guess I just need to call and start asking.

However, by the time I am ready to buy, I'd like to have some basic knowledge of which companies make good units and which ones make crappy units.  Based on my past buying experiences with cars and cycles, I often end up buying new unit, unless I find a "gem" at a great price.  I've found that prices of slightly used "gems" are not much lower than what I can buy a brand new unit for at a high volume, low margin dealership.  I'm not sure if RV deals/dealerships are that way or not.  For instance, local Honda dealers ask almost as much for their low mileage 2005, 2006 Accords as what I can buy a brand new Accord for if I'm willing to travel to a big city, high volume dealership that sells on low margins. 

So, in the interim while I try to find places that will rent trailers/trucks (or let me test drive them), I'm just trying to narrow down my choices based on brand quality and model features.  Besides, doing all this research on models, features and floorplans is alot of fun!!!  Hopefully I'll spend as much time using the RV as I do researching them  ;D

Thanks
Gary
 

Shayne

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Posts
4,324
I'll give you and example of what I mean.  We live in AZ at an RV resort with Double wides, park models of which we own 2,  2 cars, 2 golf carts and MH with a 24' enc car hauler.  Now when we travel we take the MH, the trailer and a car. When my neighbor travels he goes deisel 3/4 Jimmy and a 30' Holiday Alumacape 5er.  Both of us have discussed should we sell or not.  Both would be superior buys for someone not sure of his or her abilities to continue the RVing mode or lifestyle.  I have decide against selling only due to the fact that I don't use ours enough to warrant replacing it with another when this one does everything I need it for. Jerry( Neighbor) is now on a trip to Canada to visit his not so healthy parents and stay for perhaps a couple of weeks which with 2 weeks traveling (1wk ea Way) he will possibly sell his.  HIs units are in very fine shape and would make someone an excellent rig. OH  Sorry he didn't take the 5ver this trip, to save time and make more mileage.  When he returns perhaps, just perhaps he may want to list it.  Something to think about cause all the bugs are gone and he is somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to caring for his units.  Just a thought.
 

FleetProwl

Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2006
Posts
12
Location
Central Louisiana
I think the main thing to do is make sure you get the interior layout that you like best.  I think TT's are actually more roomy than a comparable size 5th wheel.  But I think the 5th wheel tows and handles much better than a comparable TT.  There are certain other small things that will make a differernce for each individual person.  For example, if I trade up, what ever I get will have to have a Coleman A/C unit.  I have heard that Duotherm and Carrier both make good units, but I know Coleman is a very reliable unit as with most everything they produce.
 

motojavaphil

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Posts
667
Location
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Gary, You might want to look at www.rv.org

It has some good info and gives you an idea of what others have to say.  It is a tool and there is more to rv's than is here but it sure helps.  It is RV Consumer Group  or RVCG.  Another thing I do is to talk with RVer's in campgrounds.  Go to a big enough campground and you will find many rigs.  Owners hold the key as they know what they have and generally have past experiences.  When I first started my retirement plans I was looking at RV's like crazy.  The more I looked at the more I saw.  New RV's with poor cabinets, cracking walls and interior decorating designed by Andy Warhol or his friends.  If it is poorly executed at that level just think how the rest is designed.  JD Gallant wrote a book, which I suggest you get, about everything from design to purchasing.  It is at the website I named above.  My experience with dealers has been less than positive although there are good dealers out there.  Find one and give them your business because once you own an RV you will be dependent on them for service and advice.  I found my dealer in a small town, Moriarty NM, RV Sales.  They are real and honest whereas some of the other dealers I spoke with reminded me of desparate used car salesmen and we all know what that means.  This Forum is rich with advice and some of the pro's here have helped me avoid mistakes and sort things out.  I hope this helps and good luck with your search.  My personal preferences for RV's is in the 5th wheel or diesel bus with independent front suspension which is 36+ feet long.  Stability and road control are high on my list of things and I will not compromise along those lines.  Phil
 

Carl L

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
7,239
Location
west Los Angeles
My second question may be tougher since I'm sure it's based to a large extent on individual preference.  Are there any "must have" features?  For instance, after reading some posts here, I will be sure to get 15000 BTU A/C since smaller ones seem to struggle to keep the trailer cool (maybe 15000 BTU will struggle also, but I guess it's as good as I can get).  I'm the type who doesn't want to fool around spending alot of time hooking up/tearing down, and we like to be comfortable.  So I guess things like electric leveling jacks, stabilizer jacks, awning, etc. are important.  Just trying to figure out which features are most critical in making the RV experience as easy and fun as possible.

Awnings are actually worth their price.  They help to keep the trailer cool during the day and permit longer sit-outside time in the evening by sheltering you from the cold night sky.

For travel trailers, I cannot recommend a power hitch jack too highly.  They materially speed up hitching and ease springbar tensioning.

Stablizer jacks are an essential for comfortable camping.  I find the aluminum stacker jacks to be very useful.

Plastic leveling blocks are essential for leveling the trailer in a campsite -- lighter than wood and pack much more compactly.  Two packs of 10 will hold you for most every CG. 

Dual batteries are very nice also.  Double the old amp hours.
 

wsweet2

Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2006
Posts
11
Went through the same problems in 2003.  Wife had wanted to RV for years but just could not see my self doing it. Finally gave in.  Wow, have we had fun. Couple of points, I had bought a F250, 2000, dies.  Salesman told me that it would tow anything I wanted to.  It generally would, but not carry everything.  The old numbers game, gross veh. weight rating vs gross veh. weight.  I would up being over weight because of pin or nose weight of 5th  wheel.  Finally bought a F350, only $700 more.

2nd point, again same numbers and letters except on what ever rig you buy.  What is the max weight it will carry and what does it weight with everything in it.  I have an Excel and have about 3600 lbs extra carrying capacity.  Some rigs are almost overloaded before they leave the lot.

Would recommend the four seasons concept.  Thing there are 5 or 6 makers that guarantee their rigs down to well below freezing.  Think the Excel is 0 oF.  And as Dr Phil says, make sure momma is happy with storage space and floor plan.

Good luck



Wsweet 2-------we are square ---------------------dancers that is
 

ragove

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2006
Posts
11
In my opinion, the very best TT, Slide-in, or class C RVs are made by Bigfoot Industries.  They are pricey, but the quality is outstanding.

Ron Gove, proud Bigfoot owner.
 
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