Quality and Reliability of Travel Trailers and attempting to make a future purchase..help!

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Spanielfan98

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Illinois
We want to purchase a new trailer, I am a noob my husbands family had a pop up growing up. TOWING IS NOT AN ISSUE…CHEVY DURAMAX DIESEL THREE QUARTER TON 2022. We are looking at 28 - 33 ft length..no bunks couples trailer. We like Rockwood, East to West Alta’s, Jayco and maybe Venture Sporttrack. I’d really like to hear or read about real life user reviews of these trailers, if anyone could give any advice regarding quality and reliability on them we would really appreciate it!

I’m really concerned with getting a lemon and so far it looks like the Rockwood/Flagstaff trailers are getting the best reviews that I have found so far(online).
Really like East to West Altas but have read some bad reviews and Jayco’s reviews as of late, seem to be plagued with plumbing issues.

My husband is starting to get cold feet about the whole purchase due to the negative reviews. Can anyone offer any real world advice about these brands? Most of the reviews I’ve seen are from RV Insider…is this a good source for reviews?
 

Octodad

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I wish you well in getting definitive answers. Most of what I have seen/heard/read is anecdotal stories about someone's experiences - with exception for the top of the line, most expensive brands. There may be reliable quality surveys (think Consumer Reports), but I haven't seen them. Would love to know if you come across one.

As a 30+ year customer service executive in a variety of fields, I can tell you that most reviews do skew toward the negative. People don't call the electric company when the power is on to thank them and tell them what a great job they are doing. When something goes wrong, they tell people about it. When something goes right, that was expected and not newsworthy.

You are at least doing the right thing in researching. I hear/know of a lot of people who just jump in and buy what the salesman says they need without doing any research. This forum is great for that. There are also numerous Youtube channels which cover RVs.

One YT channel that I really like to watch is BigTruck/BigRV. That guy does initial overviews of probably two to three dozen RVs each year. He may show the rigs that you are considering. I don't recall him getting into quality issues much, he really just shows features.

A lot of other people may chime in here with more detailed information. Regardless of whether you get your initial question answered, stick around. It's a great place to learn. Welcome.
 

darsben

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A) Towing could be a problem. Your payload could be as low as 1500 lbs. Depending on your choice of trailers a fifth wheel could put a big dent in that payload. Please check you payload.
B) Trailer quality right now seems to be hit and miss with most manufacturers. If you have warranty issues it is not uncommon for the dealer to take months fixing them and the fix may not be of good quality. You might be better off with a fairly new used unit with the issues worked out.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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TOWING IS NOT AN ISSUE…CHEVY DURAMAX DIESEL THREE QUARTER TON 2022. We are looking at 28 - 33 ft length..no bunks couples trailer.
As long as you are talking a travel trailer and no more than 33 ft, that's probably true enough, but do not assume your Duramax can "tow anything". If you change your mind and start looking at fifth-wheels, a 33 footer could well be more than it is capable of. And don't take the salesman's word for it either - verify using the capacity numbers and ask her for help with it.

I’m really concerned with getting a lemon and so far it looks like the Rockwood/Flagstaff trailers are getting the best reviews that I have found so far(online).
Really like East to West Altas but have read some bad reviews and Jayco’s reviews as of late, seem to be plagued with plumbing issues.

The biggest problem is that RV quality is inconsistent, even with the higher end brands. There is maybe a 1-in-10 chance you will get a problem child. Maybe even higher with low end models. And dealer warranty repairs are too often neither timely nor done right the first time, so that 12 month warranty is rarely as valuable as you would expect if it were a new car. Many people will advise that buying a late models used RV is less risky. You can probably afford a more premium brand if you buy used and that can help in the long term. Remember, an RV is a house on wheels, so forget your car-buyer biases and think like you are shopping for a house. What matters most is the layout and suitability for your particular wants & needs.

I don't have experience with any of those models, so can't really help. I will say, though, that in recent years Jayco seems to have lost its former high quality reputation. We see as many Jayco complaints here as with any other brand.
 

Spanielfan98

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Illinois
Definitely not doing a fifth wheel…too big..too much money… husband is an ex tractor-trailer driver…just want to make sure we get get a good anti sway setup too. I absolutely want to get an inspector to look at whatever we settle on, before signing on the dotted line. Does anyone know how/where to find them? How do I find a good inspector?
 

CharlesinGA

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Is this (hopefully) a long term thing or are you so unsure of RVing that you might give up in a year? If you really want to travel and know you want a NEW couples trailer that is going to last. 1) look at the Winnebago models, 2) look at Lance trailers, 3) look at fiberglass trailers, Bigfoot (bought thru dealers), Escape (bought factory direct), and Oliver (also factory direct).

25ft Bigfoot has either a E/W rear queen or rear twin beds or a front queen. It is 8 ft wide, no slides. Both the Oliver and Escapes are 7 ft wide and no slides, so substantially smaller.

Charles
 

Spanielfan98

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No, long term…we’d like to put it at a seasonal campground but also travel with it…out west to Yellowstone area and Yosemite…also places closer to home…so this is definitely going to go places. We have Great Danes right now so we need a bit of room in the trailer…will even downsize on the dogs in 3-5 years.
 

darsben

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Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
No, long term…we’d like to put it at a seasonal campground but also travel with it…out west to Yellowstone area and Yosemite…also places closer to home…so this is definitely going to go places. We have Great Danes right now so we need a bit of room in the trailer…will even downsize on the dogs in 3-5 years.
Do the dogs know this?
 

Martian

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Independent Republic of Horry
You did not list it as one of your choices but the Cougar line seems to be fairly trouble free. I will not say without issues but I have met a lot of Cougar owners on line and at cg's and the initial issues do not seem to be show stoppers and being that owning an rv is actually continuing education most of the things that crop up are diy items instead of dealer fixes.
My unit came with two leaks when it rained. The speakers were not sealed where they met the mounting bezel. Took longer to find it than fix it. Another person had flow problems when using the pump. He replaced the flex line going to it with a longer one to get rid of the kink.
This is my third trailer and third different manufacturer. Quality of design and build is the best yet. The first was a Starcraft of 2004 vintage which was during their best years, second was a Forest River/Rockwood Mini Lite of 2015 vintage and it had more things go wrong than things that were right. The 2020 Cougar is a unit I love putting mods into but only have to maintain it, not repair it. Just another opinion.
 

CharlesinGA

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THE problem is dogs, big, small, one, two, three, you are left in a situation where visits to National Parks will mean in some cases camping outside the park and even if you camp in the park, the dogs are not allowed anywhere but the campground. You really don't want to leave the dogs in the trailer, but it can come down to that in some cases and places. The rules vary widely, and there are actually a few places that have a trail or two that do allow dogs, but overall, they will greatly inhibit your ability to get out and walk trails, see the sights, etc.

Outside of the parks, on Forest Service land and BLM land, it should not be a problem, but then, you want to see the sights, right...........

I travel with a couple that has a miniature schnauzer and its quite a bit of a problem. last fall I insisted we go to Dauphin Island Alabama because I knew it was a dog friendly island and we were able to take Bella everywhere including the beach. About a month later we went to Big Lagoon State Park at Pensacola FL and the only dog friendly beach is a section about a 1000 ft long on Ft Pickens Rd.

Charles
 

Spanielfan98

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Illinois
The Cougars are another brand We like but we are unsure of the cable/pulley system on the slide out. One sales person said if it breaks when we are traveling just push the slide in manually…that just doesn’t sound safe when you have to get it down the highway and back home. I’ve read some of these can have issues too.

It’s starting to sound like getting a decent working trailer is a crapshoot. We’d buy a slightly used Rockwood to start with but the old misnomer that a used one has all the problems worked out of it does not sound too accurate either.
 

Jayflight

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The Cougars are another brand We like but we are unsure of the cable/pulley system on the slide out. One sales person said if it breaks when we are traveling just push the slide in manually…that just doesn’t sound safe when you have to get it down the highway and back home. I’ve read some of these can have issues too.

It’s starting to sound like getting a decent working trailer is a crapshoot. We’d buy a slightly used Rockwood to start with but the old misnomer that a used one has all the problems worked out of it does not sound too accurate either.
If you are looking at buying any sticks and staples TT, then accept that you need to carry a decent tool kit on the road and be mindful you need to be part mechanic with being a spouse or parent and just fix as you go. Buying something used depends on the previous owner having mechanical abilities and was willing to address issues as they came up.


Most all sticks and staple TTs are built to last until they leave the factory. Good luck getting a dealer, especially the big name ones to correct issues in a timely manner. If you are thinking those warranty signs on the new ones are worth the ink thats used to print them, then you are going to be mighty disappointed.

Of course when buying used, the first question I ask is where has the camper been and if they have a GOOD LOG. You can do this is a good way on the premise that you are looking for recommended adventures. This is the first indicator that crosses over to the condition of the camper. This means the owner paid attention to details and you will probably get a decent one.

edited to add, I always thought the Lance campers were a step above most other sticks and staples. But I watched a video online by a you tuber called Traveling with the Delaneys , IIRC that bought one and their slide was a nightmare. The slide jammed up constantly and some experienced outlet found out that the hole on the side was way too big. Slides sucks!!!
 
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Frizlefrak

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El Paso, Texas
My 3 cents worth....

1. Due your do diligence on towing capacities as the others mentioned. An hour's worth of research will tell you what you can and can't safely pull. DON'T BLINDLY BELIEVE THE SALESPERSON! They are notorious for "you can tow anything on the lot" statements....just to get you to sign on the dotted line. Your 2500 Duramax will tow nearly any conventional "bumper pull" trailer. Fifth wheels, you'll run out of payload long before you reach the truck's rated towing capacity. Be mindful.

2. All RV's are money pits. They all break, and usually frequently. It's a house on wheels that's subjected to earthquake type forces for hours on end, and then expected to perform well afterward. You'll be fixing things from the day you buy it, until the day you sell it. Don't let that stop you. Buy one you like, with a floorplan that fits your travel plans. The warranties are short, and it can take weeks or months to get one fixed, so learn to fix it yourself. It's usually not that difficult, and we can walk you through nearly any repair. You'll save literally thousands of dollars over the life of the trailer, you'll get to know your rig inside and out, and you'll have the confidence to know that you aren't a prisoner to an RV shop. And you won't have anxiety about something breaking.

3. Make 3 lists; 1). What the trailer MUST have. 2). What the trailer CANNOT have. 3). What would be NICE to have. Do not deviate from lists 1 or 2 whatsoever, even if the trailer is a screaming deal. Try to get as much of list 3 as you can.

Happy shopping!!
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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It’s starting to sound like getting a decent working trailer is a crapshoot. We’d buy a slightly used Rockwood to start with but the old misnomer that a used one has all the problems worked out of it does not sound too accurate either.

Newcomers always have a hard time accepting this, but it is pretty much true. Let me elaborate a bit.
  • The nasty surprises that can plague new RVs have already occurred and so has the 2-3 month warranty service delays that are all too common.
  • You (or an inspector) can see whatever serious problems that may have happened, e.g. evidence of water leaks, structural cracks, etc. Buyers worry about hidden faults, but in most cases a year or two of use exposes any such faults, whereas they actually are hidden when you get a new one from the factory.
  • Yes, you need to inspect carefully when buying used, but the very same requirement applies to new ones. Failure to find factory design & production flaws and get them fixed is the big risk in buying new. Buyers assume everything is perfect or that the dealer has thoroughly verified proper operation, but that is seldom the case.
I can tell your attitude is that a new RV is safer than used. If you need that for peace of mind, so be it. Lots of people buy new and only some percentage have enough problems to write negative reviews or come here to learn more about what went wrong.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Frizzlefrak gave succinct but excellent advice. The lists are a huge help in organizing your thoughts & priorities, even if you forget to bring the list with you when shopping.

Buying new, consider the MSRP as an indicator of base quality. The RV industry is extremely price competitive, so nobody is simply charging more for the same thing. If one brand is charging more for what appears to be the same size & equipment, then the difference is quality "under the covers". Some likely examples would be better flooring and upholstery materials, more capable chassis, superior wall & roof construction, better quality wiring & plumbing, and simply more time spent on the assembly line getting things right. The way the cheaper brands get the price down is to skimp everywhere, sometimes just pennies, but it adds up and is often difficult for a newcomer to detect behind all the glitz and saleman BS.
 

Babe2201

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Walpole, NH
A) Towing could be a problem. Your payload could be as low as 1500 lbs. Depending on your choice of trailers a fifth wheel could put a big dent in that payload. Please check you payload.
B) Trailer quality right now seems to be hit and miss with most manufacturers. If you have warranty issues it is not uncommon for the dealer to take months fixing them and the fix may not be of good quality. You might be better off with a fairly new used unit with the issues worked out.
I have a 1/2 ton with 1735 payload so how is a 3/4 ton going to be as low as 1500?
 

Babe2201

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If you like the Cougar I believe they are made by Keystone which also make Bullet and Passport TT which are very nice as well. I would look at Forest River as well. They make some very nice ones as well.

I know what we did is we made a list of things we needed and what we and what we wanted and narrowed it down to ones having everything we needed and most of what we wanted.
 
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