For many people, an RV is their ticket to escape the mundane routine of everyday life. But with an RV costing more than a nice car, purchasing your first one is a major investment. That's why it's so important to learn the RV brands to avoid before you end up with a lemon or money pit.
Fortunately, most major RV brands are pretty reliable. Most RV owners have zero problems with their vehicle, at least outside of routine maintenance and wear-and-tear. However, all it takes is one bad RV experience to ruin the hobby for a lifetime.
When it comes to purchasing a new RV, whether it's your first or your tenth, you should always read customer reviews before choosing a vehicle. Since other RV owners may have made the wrong choice, you can avoid repeating their mistakes.
So how do you know which RV brands to avoid? And which brands should you consider purchasing instead?
How to Find a Reliable RV for You and Your Family
RV manufacturers invest countless dollars in advertising and promotional content for their vehicles. But where can you turn for unbiased, honest reviews?
In the RV world, there are several websites dedicated to publishing customer reviews for various RV brands, makes, and models. If you're wondering which RV brands to avoid, these sites are the best place to start.
While there are certainly more RV review sites than those we've listed, these are the biggest and our personal favorites:
RVT.com offers multiple ways to search customer reviews. You can choose to search by brand, make, or model. Or you can browse through different vehicles based on their class or style. The reviews on RVT.com come from past or current RV owners, so they're pretty reliable. But you should still focus more on trends rather than individual opinions.
Another good website to check out is MotorHome.com. It's the official website of MotorHome Magazine and features plenty of staff reviews.
While these aren't customer reviews, they're a great place to start before narrowing down your choices to a handful of RV models. Plus, staff experts typically know which RV brands to avoid entirely.
Finally, we recommend checking out RVReviews.net. Again, this website focuses on professional reviews rather than customer reviews. But you can learn a lot about the best RV brands and the RV brands to avoid by browsing through their guides.
On top of helping you weed out the RV brands to avoid, some of these websites also offer forums and information on local dealers in your area. If you have questions about a certain type of RV, don't be afraid to reach out to one of these communities and ask.
THE 5 RV BRANDS TO AVOID OR BUY WITH CAUTION
While RV review websites are a great resource for finding your next RV, you can still fall for a dud if you don't look at trends in the reviews.
For instance, maybe reviews of a certain model tend to be around four stars, but most of these reviews mention leaks. Do you really want a nearly guaranteed chance of owning a leak-prone RV, even if it has good ratings on average?
For this reason, many RV experts suggest avoiding certain brands altogether. Your mileage may vary, but buying one of these brands is a gamble most will want to avoid.
Here are the five most popular RV brands to avoid, or at least to purchase with extreme caution:
For several years, Gulf Stream was considered one of the leading RV brands on the market. Unfortunately, the brand has recently fallen from grace.
Many modern Gulf Stream models are prone to all types of exterior and interior leaks. The interior leaks are most common around the built-in shower or bathtub, depending on the model. But some owners also reported leaking behind the toilet, under the sink, and from the water heater.
Leaking on its own is a nuisance. But severe leaking in an RV can lead to a major issue: rust. So, even if you're willing to put up with a leaking sink or water tank, the resultant rust will drastically shorten your RVs expected lifespan.
If you can find an older Gulf Stream model in good condition, the brand might be worth investing in. But as far as newer models, Gulf Stream is definitely one of the RV brands to avoid.
While the entire Thor Motor Coach brand should be approached with caution, their most infamous RV line is the Thor Hurricane. Despite the fact that Thor Motor Coach offers some of the most state-of-the-art RV interiors, the RVs themselves leave much to be desired.
The Thor Hurricane has accumulated numerous safety recalls over the years. Some of these safety recalls are rather alarming, including risks of the RV creeping forward when parked, the steering wheel column catching fire, and other potentially dangerous concerns.
And that's not all:
The Hurricane also has issues with its hydraulic lines leaking or becoming fully disconnected while driving. Unfortunately, Thor Motor Coach has developed a reputation for poor customer service and warranty policies following these recalls.
When it comes to RV brands to avoid, Thor Motor Coach should definitely be toward the top of your list. You can find some good Thor RV models out there, but hunting them down is best left to the experienced buyer.
Keystone is another brand that went from being reliable to being one of the top RV brands to avoid. Although Keystone's issues aren't as potentially dangerous as those of Thor Motor Coach, they're still not something you want to deal with after dropping thousands on a new RV.
One of the most common complaints about newer Keystone models is that the interior is poorly constructed. Customers frequently report cabinet doors falling off, major air leaks in the vehicle's frame, broken chairs, and low-quality carpet.
While these issues might not be enough to turn you off of owning a Keystone RV, many customers also reported issues with customer service, repairs, and warranty claims. So if you do experience any issues with your new Keystone RV, it won't be easy to get them fixed.
Overall, we recommend keeping Keystone on your list of RV brands to avoid. But if you're looking for a travel trailer on a budget, you might be able to find a used one for cheap.
If Gulf Stream and Keystone weren't enough of a disappointment, Winnebago is yet another established RV brand that you should avoid. Yes, their older models are some of the most beloved on the market. But their newer releases have been extremely lackluster.
When it comes to customer complaints about these new Winnebago RVs, the concerns vary greatly. Some customers experienced electrical or lighting system failure. Others received an RV with structurally unsound wall panels, to the point that they would blow off while driving, that made them question the vehicle's safety. Leaks are also a common complaint from Winnebago owners.
With such a wide variety of structural and systemic issues, it's difficult to trust the overall quality of Winnebago as a brand. For this reason, we're placing it on our list of RV brands to avoid.
You might not recognize the Forest River brand, but you'll probably recognize its more well-known subsidiary brand. Coachmen, one of the oldest RV brands, is notorious among many RV enthusiasts for being full of structural problems.
These issues can range from leaking showers to windows that fail to seal. But some customers also experienced issues like their slide out failing, filling their trailer with water, or rust forming after less than a year of use.
While these issues might be small, they can require a great deal of time and money spent on repairs. Plus, leaks and rust can take years of life off of your new RV.
Coachmen bear the brunt of Forest River's issues, but it's not unreasonable to approach their other RV options with caution. After all, if Coachmen is one of the RV brands to avoid, it makes sense that their parent brand should be as well.
THE RV BRANDS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT INSTEAD
Finding the right RV for you is an extremely personal experience. What works for one person might not work for the other, and vice-versa.
However, if you're looking for some trustworthy RV brands that you can turn to instead of these five RV brands to avoid, you're in luck. Here are a few brands we feel are on their way up in the world of RVs:
Image Source : AirStream
The Airstream brand is perhaps the trendiest, but definitely not the cheapest, RV brand around. But the brand has earned this popularity for a reason. Airstream RVs are known for being stylish, comfortable, and reliable.
While the Airstream brand certainly isn't perfect (some customers experienced issues with the shower leaking or loose closet doors) but complaints about this brand are extremely few and far between. Compared to some of the RV brands to avoid listed above, Airstream has far more positive reviews and far fewer negative ones on display.
If you're in the market for a budget RV, an Airstream model is likely out of your price range. However, this brand is an excellent investment for anyone ready to take their RV passion to the next level.
The other RV brand we recommend checking out is Newmar. This RV manufacturer might not have the name recognition of other brands, but it's known for featuring consistent and reliable RV models throughout its entire product line.
Like Airstream, Newmar is a luxury RV brand. For those on a budget, Newmar probably isn't an option. But for those looking for a high-quality RV that they can rely on, it's one of the best brands around.
Some owners have experienced issues with Newmar's build quality. However, these reviews are balanced out by countless positive reviews that rave about the brand and its vehicles.
If you have your heart set on a Newmar RV, you might be able to find an older model within your budget. If you can afford a new model, though, we think the comfort and reliability of this brand might be worth the cost.
GET OUT THERE AND EXPLORE THE WORLD
Although we've listed some of the RV brands to avoid when shopping for a new recreational vehicle, this doesn't mean that any of these brands are inherently bad or poor quality.
We simply recommend doing your research and avoiding any deals that seem too good to be true. Because, as you probably know, there's a reason for it.
Finding the perfect RV for you and your family can be a long, drawn-out process. But once you've found the ideal vehicle, you have the freedom to go out and explore the world.
Which RV catches your eye? Do you have experience with the ones we've listed above? Tell us about it in the comments!