My heart goes out to all of you that bought a new RV in the last 15 years and would like a do-over. The last 3 years have seen the quality plummet even farther down the scale.
Some owners are pouring yet more money into the RV to fix the problems that came off the manufacturer’s product line. Other owners are still fighting with dealers, repair shops, and manufacturers to get a little satisfaction. What about those stuck with a new unusable vehicle?
What Part Does the Component Manufacturer Play
After having numerous conversations with repair personnel, RV salespeople, and even some dealers, their consensus is that Lippert Components is as much at fault for failing the customer as the manufacturers and dealers.
Manufacturers like Forest River buy their chassis from Lippert. Lippert’s axles have a 1-star rating and the most complaints from the customer. As you know, Forest River has, by far, the most recalls of any manufacturer.
Lack of quality control, low employee pay, terrible working conditions, plus no management support; this is what Lippert employees deal with every day. Would you turn out a quality product under these conditions?
Judging from the employee response at the Glassdoor, Lippert Components gets an employee rating of 2.1-3.6 (out of 5) depending on the position. This division of Lippert Industries is wholly owned, so, under no pressure to change.
Interesting personal note on the CEO, Jason Lippert. According to a press release in 2016, he traveled to all his locations and apologized to his workers for not putting their interests first…then nothing happened. (You know the routine. Hire a company to come in to boost the morale, play teamwork games, and provide pizza every day. This money spent in place of paying the employee better or improving the working conditions.) Evidently, what sparked this tour was the realization that the Components division’s annual turnover was 110%.
Lippert usually comes in with the lowest bid for the manufacturer. Yes, the manufacturer could buy elsewhere, and some do. However, there are few competitors in this country.
Another giant in the components business is Patrick Industries with little competitive overlap in products. So, no competitive edge to increase quality with either company. Employee ratings for Patrick are a little higher, about 2.9-3.6 depending on the position. (About half the size of Lippert Components in profits.)
Patrick is having huge quarter profits. Are they upping the employee’s salary? No, they are buying back their stock with that money.
Stuck with a NEW but Unusable RV?
Your RV is not covered by a lemon law in most states, but the Federal Government offers some protection.
Visit Lemonlawcase.com for information on each state.
Even if the lemon law in your state partially or totally excludes motorhomes or recreational vehicles, this does not prevent you from pursuing a legal claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This is a federal statute that can offer financial relief to consumers stuck with defective vehicles.
Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a warranty permits two or three attempts at adequate repairs of a particular defect. The Federal Lemon Law’s reasonableness requirement applies to the entire vehicle not just each individual defect. In other words, a vehicle that has multiple defects can be covered under the Magnuson-Moss law even if not covered under a state lemon law because of insufficient repair attempts for a single problem.
Yes, it sounds exhausting and probably is, so get that pre-purchase inspection regardless of how much energy you have to expend to get it. Be creative, be inventive, but find someone qualified to inspect it BEFORE you buy it. Don’t be bullied into a short timeframe decision.
For more information about a Pre-Purchase RV Inspection, click here.
What About Warranty Coverage
To complicate the warranty issue, many RV components are covered only by the manufacturer of that particular item. Trying to nail down the company to approach for closure is the first step.
Who makes the steps that stopped working? What about the water heater that misfired? Who backs the warranty on the microwave? What if you have several items to replace? Forest River’s warranty, for instance, does not cover full-time living.
Read the fine print carefully!
Purchase a separate warranty that takes over when you run out of trails to follow. To qualify for one of these warranties, buy new or used under 5 years old.
- The “Exclusionary Policy” specifically states what they do not cover. Everything else is covered; very expensive way to go.
- The “Listed Component Coverage” policy states that only certain items are covered. If you have skills and only want coverage on certain areas of the RV, like the chassis, for instance, you can save big.
- Most of the warranties sold by dealers are in a gray area. Not everything is clearly defined, as a result you only find out when you try to collect.
The important factor here is to choose a contract issuer that has a reputable history, an honest approach, and good reviews. This is definitely a “buyer-beware” trip.
Don’t be afraid to bypass a warranty entirely. Take that money and save or invest it. Just have it ready when the time comes for the repairs.
Quality RV Option
For a quality RV option, check out my post about the Hymer, the German import (currently in a bidding process to be purchased by Thor).
For the latest Manufacturer Recalls, visit RVTravel.com. To learn more about quality control issues directly from the RV owner, catch “RV Horror Stories with Alan Warren,” The RV Show live on Wednesday nights at 8 PM CST or recorded on YouTube.